Preparing the next European meeting of the Happy Home Wallet project I did discuss with some people of different ages and social backgrounds the above question.
The ways to handle money are different and it often causes stress for a lot of people but all agreed on these two main principles:
- Money itself can’t be an end goal but a resource used to accomplish other goals and fulfill obligations.
- Spend less than you earn for a long time and you will be financially successful.
However, we also noticed two main trends towards money:
The majority of our people here are living on a small budget and can’t find any ways to act according to the two main principles at all. It’s a very sensitive topic as it is directly related to consumption patterns which are influenced by personal values and the status in the society. We had one meeting at a person’s home, living on a minimum wage but with a lot of stuff around. Going shopping is a necessity to keep the family household going and as a part of a personal reward: to give yourself a treat for all the stress, the work, etc. They spent just many small amounts of money for satisfying the need of being seen, important or whatever. Talking here about consumption patterns goes too far in the frame of our project.
The second trend is widespread among the younger generation, those, which are well-educated but without a long-term working contract and upset with the current economic system. They established a network of sharing, reusing, recycling to decrease expenses and the environmental footprint of consumption. The crux is probably that even in that way they can’t live independent from social allowances and many of those people comfortably settled down in that niche of society.
We draw very simple tables of date | income | reason | expenses until to showing more sophisticated solutions but the question how to handle (a tight) budget is easily answered but not easily done.