I recently read this article and it made me mad. The central thesis is that the good life is made up of $5 coffee, gourmet supermarket food, $3,000 handbags, and McMansions and now that hard economic realities have forced many of us to give up "paying a premium for food and clothing, popping for lavish trips and entertainment or taking out a mortgage for way more house than we needed" the good times are over.
First of all, that assumes that everyone who could do those things when the market was flush did them and I don't think they did. What about all those people who chose (and continue to choose) voluntary simplicity, who drink water (from the tap, gasp!) instead of buying coffee out, who have no desire for a handbag with someone else's initials on it, and who read the fine print on their mortgage before signing on the dotted line?
And even for those who are recent converts to coupon clipping, staycations, and free redbox codes, who says their lives are any less rich just because their bank accounts are smaller? While the economic downturn has meant many of us are having to make do with fewer material comforts, the big surprise is that it has brought more intangible comforts.
For me, unemployment has meant more family time, less rushing about, more appreciation for what I do have, and a greater sense of contentment. I would be lying if I said that I never felt bummed about not being able to buy something I wanted or that I didn't miss going on vacation more frequently, but I try to temper those negative feelings with a sense of satisfaction that I have less clutter and more quality time at home.
The good life isn't gone, it's just different.
What do you think? Can you still have the good life without extra cash? What constitutes the good life for you?