For the month of February, I am partnering with EJ from DadsDollarsDebts. We’ve never met, but he’s one of the first blogging pen pals I made with after starting my site. As a fellow blogger, father, and physician, we have a lot in common. We even realized we have a mutual close friend that we met at different stages of our life.
Today and the next two weeks we will be sharing some of our previous content on each others sites. We’ll end the month sharing original content on the others site. If you’ve enjoyed my blog you will love his thoughts on fatherhood and finances. This post was originally published on his site.
Moderatism Versus Minimalism
I like the idea of minimalism. The idea of freeing ourselves of all of our physical attachments except for the basic needs. The idea that by decreasing our possessions we decrease the stress that comes from paying for those items, maintaining those items (like the $200 I spent last week fixing a flat and getting an oil change), and from seeing those items pile up. Maybe that is why those on a spiritual journey such as Catholic or Buddhist monks give up their possessions to pursue something deeper.
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Minimalism is great and I often talk to my wife about selling our home and moving into an RV. She looks at me and smiles gently and then reminds me that she wants our son to grow up in a house. So, maybe minimalism is not the right path for a physician with a loving wife and son who wants to live a “normal” life. So what is the next path beyond minimalism. Moderationism….or maybe moderatism…or some other iteration of moderate and ism. Let’s call it being a “Moderate Advocate”.
So what is being a “Moderate Advocate”? Well for me it is the middle path (much as there is a middle path in Buddhism- i.e. Buddhism is the middle path). Now I am not Buddhist but the middle path seems like the right way to live my life. Being a moderate advocate means I will not indulge or deprive myself of too much in exercise, food, finances, and lifestyle. I will live a modest life within my means. So let’s talk how that affects each aspect of life.
Being a moderate advocate in exercise means that we will not be couch potatoes. We will work out a few times a week. Whether it is running, lifting weights, or organized sports. The key is to get the body moving and in shape to prevent future heart disease, osteoporosis, and the iconic dad bod. We do not need to be Cross Fitters or Ultra Marathoners to gain health benefits. We just need to get out there and move.
We will enjoy what we enjoy, but not gorge ourselves. It is fine to eat red meat, sweets, and other indulgences. We won’t over do it. No ice cream every night or drink alcohol daily and to excess. We enjoy the occasional glass of wine or mixed drink (for the record, the American Heart Association state that 2 alcoholic drinks for men and 1 for women a day is okay). The key here is portion control; a moderate amount of food over time.
We will neither be extremely frugal nor extreme spenders. Living within our means so that at the end of the month there is money left over to save. We do not need to live frugally to just die with millions in the bank, but we also do not need to overspend, stressing out about how we will pay the bills. Live within the means! That is the motto.
We will drive my cars for 10 years or longer as long as they are functioning and not costing me more in upkeep then buying a newer (used) car (A younger me has been known to keep a car for a little too long- a story that did not end well for my sister-in-law when she drove my car the day after my wedding). Buy the home that we will enjoy because it is where we spend most of our time outside of work. Do not buy things, like clothes or home decor, to indulge ourselves and give ourselves a 5 second high from spending. We will definitely not buy things to impress other people.
Moderation in lifestyle includes all of the above plus taking a moderate view on the world. Maybe people with strong right leanings and strong left leanings would work better together if they followed the middle road (maybe Congress should try this!). We are all likely to get along better if we can take the time and effort to see each others points of view and respect them. Live without hatred and prejudice, with an open mind, and with the ability to choose our feelings. Try to see both sides of each situation in an effort to make smart decisions.
Finally, by living moderately we can save for the future without depriving ourselves currently. We can plan and live at the same time. Find happiness in the day to day along with the satisfaction of knowing the future holds many more opportunities. Live in the house and raise our children, and save the RV for the future when we are empty nesters!
So what do you think, is moderatism better than minimalism? Should we all be moderate advocates?