Simple Prosperity: Finding Real Wealth In A Sustainable Lifestyle

This post borrows it’s title from David Wann’s book by the same name, Simple Prosperity. For my winter break reading, this book was a companion to Robert Kiyosaki’s Cashflow Quadrand. From Kiyosaki I was learning new ways to make money (and think about money) in order to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle through financial freedom. From Wann I’m learning new ways (well much older ways) to need less money and get more out of what I already have to achieve a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. I believe both sets of skills, Financial Literacy and Environmental Literacy (or Green Living) are sorely needed in our schools.

I haven’t finished reading the Wann book. In fact, I’ve barely started, but I found some of these early segments worth sharing here:

The people who track “consumer confidence” have their metrics on backward, in my humble opinion. Overconsumption is clearly a fundamental problem, not solution, in the maintenance of a healthy economy and planet.

This idea is certainly not new, but I’ve never heard it articulated so clearly and succinctly before – and it is already helping me to think about things in a new light. Also, especially in light of my recent focus on my own financial education, I thought Wann turned a nice phase when he said this:

In the gaurdian economy now bieng born – that acknowledges how small the world really is and how fragile its web of life – only the interest provided by nature will be consumed, never the principle.

This is more or less the exact same principle behind Kiyosaki’s idea of financial freedom: build up your assets to the point where your passive income can support you (without the need to draw on the principle you put into your assets – or, ideally, the gathering equity). Perhaps worst of all, we’re destroying the environment to make money not only for new things we didn’t used to need (like iPods etc.), but also for things we used to have in abundance for free:

In recent years American household budgets have skyrocketed for day care, elder care, health care, lawn care, pet care, house care, and hair care – in direct proportion to our often-frustrated quest to be “carefree.”

This makes me particularly happy about the plan Eva and I have to cut back on work in order to raise the baby. The plan is for her to work only 40% next year while I work only 60%. Cross your fingers for us. ;)

In summary, Wann’s goal sounds good to me and I hope to continue making small changes this year in order to move my life in this direction:

If health, happiness, and humility become new American benchmarks of success, we’ll no longer need hypergrowth or overconsumption. As a result, we’ll generate less stress, environmental destruction, depression, and debt!

I also plan to make this a more integral part of my professional life as an educator as well. Let’s hope it’s appreciated.