we buy the hot tub?!" It was awfully tempting, imagining
ourselves luxuriating in the steaming water, under the
stars after a long day. But we wondered about spending
thousands of dollars on something we didn't really need.
We asked ourselves, "Would giving in to the hot tub start
us down the slippery slope of ever-increasing consumerism?
Would it alienate our less affluent friends? When others
lack their basic needs, is it right to spend so much purely
super-affluent people (compared to most in the world)
our spending has few external limits. We don't have to
look for the least expensive way to meet our needs and
we can regularly indulge in extravagances if we so choose.
persisting questions remain: How much and at what level
do we satisfy our desires? What values and principles
should guide our spending? How can we be good to ourselves
and partake of the wondrous marketplace before us, without
becoming jaded by or addicted to the over-abundance at
certain respects our relationship to spending resembles
our relationship to food. As with food, spending can be
a powerful symbol for self-nurturance, self-image, and
control. We often carry judgments about our own and other
people's spending that can make it as touchy a subject
as body weight. Just as we can be labeled as too skinny
or too fat, depending on the circles we travel in, we
can be judged (or judge others) as too "tight" or too
"self-indulgent." The lack of comfortable discussion about
spending differences, combined with the natural desire
to blend with the lifestyles of our closest friends and
colleagues, makes it hard to explore spending habits honestly
and to think freshly about what will best serve our needs
is an appropriate level of spending? On one extreme, the
ubiquitous, stylish ads and seductive catalogues whisper,
"Spending is fun, powerful, sexy, and so easy. Do it now!"
On the other extreme, images of homeless and hungry people
peer through funding appeals whispering, "You'll do fine
without that extra stuff; give generously to us!" While
some of us manage to feel relaxed about our spending choices
in the face of this bombardment, many others feel overwhelmed.
Amidst the rush of consumerism, it is mighty challenging
to build an enjoyable way of life that reflects our true
caring and integrity.
the years, we editors have learned that living "The American
Dream" (a level of consumption often delightful and envied
globally) may be creating an environmental nightmare.
Researchers warn us that our lifestyle is not sustainable-not
as currently practiced, and certainly not if mass-exported
to a swelling global population. In this issue of
we're not out to prove or disprove these
warnings, but to explore what it means if we believe in
their urgency. Perhaps technological breakthroughs will
change this prediction, but in the meantime, we believe
that we, in the wealthiest nations, face the necessity
of changing our ways.
can those of us in the most globally privileged group
respect our own needs while acknowledging our place in
a troubled planetary family? This issue describes some
of the ways people with wealth can grapple with this question
and slowly move toward more conscious spending. For better
and for worse, our spending intertwines us with an ever-growing
web of economic, environmental and spiritual relationships
around the world. May this issue of
More than Money
stimulate us to act with greater awareness of this interconnectedness,
and through doing so to develop greater control, effectiveness,
and joy in our personal spending.
Mogil and Anne Slepian
© 1990-2005, More Than Money, All rights reserved