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Bring back scarcity thinking!

by Amy on September 10, 2019

I got these pants at Shop n Kart 🙂

The other day I used cash to purchase my groceries.

I was a little embarrassed about it. But I get groceries at Shop n Kart. And anything goes there. I often see people strolling in and out with no shoes or shirt. It’s not unusual to see somebody meditating in the crystals section (yes there’s a crystals section) or chitchatting about politics in the ghee section.

Welcome to Ashland.

Anyway… I used cash to buy groceries because I’m trying something new. I’ve been using a budgeting tool called YNAB for several years and it has done a beautiful job keeping this spender debt free. But the groceries category continues to be my downfall. Month after month I find myself overspending in this category.

A few months ago, I happened upon The Budget Mom blog. You have to read Kumiko’s story here. Quoting Kumiko, “I learned that my real self is more important than my ideal self. Learning to accept who you are as a person and what you stand for is something that money can never buy.” Money has so much to teach us.

She talks about using “cash envelopes” for budget categories that get you into trouble. So I tried it.

First thing I noticed as I was strolling aisle after aisle of Shop n Kart goodness (Shop n Kart, despite it’s no frills appearance, has a crazy inventory. We’re talking six different types of ghee!) was that when I have cash, instead of an abstract number in a piece of budgeting software, is that I’m much more discriminating about what I buy. My brain goes from “Look, chocolate ghee! Gimme, gimme, gimme!” to “No, Amy, you really don’t need to own Pink Himalayan Sea Salt ghee.”

The other thing I noticed…I actually look at prices. With a limited amount of dollar bills in an envelope meant to last me the month, I forgo the tomato paste with the pretty label (my typical purchasing criteria) and go for the less expensive brand with the boring label.

I’m pretty confident I’m going to come in at or below budget this month. Thank you Budget Mom!

Which got me thinking…

As a spiritually minded person who enjoys reading as much self-help as I can get my hands on, I’ve been exposed to a lot of philosophy about “scarcity mindset.”

Scarcity thinking according to many a self-help guru is B.A.D.

And I get it. Because most of us have been socialized to believe that there is never enough. Never enough love. Never enough success. Never enough lasagna.

And this kind of thinking turns us into violently competitive, freudenschade committing lasagna hoarders, seething with jealous indignation at any one with even a whisper of success.

It’s almost as if scarcity mindset is pre-conditioned from birth. I constantly have to remind my kids for example that, “Just because I called Alice smart, doesn’t mean I don’t think you’re smart too,” after one of them gets a compliment in the other’s presence.

I don’t have the science on this but I’m willing to bet that scarcity mindset is something we were born with, that it has to do with our survival.

Well I’ve got news for you, self help loves and spiritual gurus.

Survival matters. Ask Abe Maslow.

In this day and age, what with the earth dying and all, and a sociopath running our economy, it’s time to make scarcity thinking cool again.

Because abundance is beautiful. And lovely. And believing that there is always enough love and success to go around is going to help you be a kinder, more confident, willing to try new things, willing to celebrate other people’s success kind of person and we need people like that…

But my grocery budget is finite and yours probably is too. Holding the bills in my hand is a powerful reminder of it.

But way way way more importantly, other things are finite too. Like the trees of the Amazon rainforest that absorb a whopping quarter of all greenhouse gases absorbed by trees worldwide. And Rhinos, Elephants, Lemurs, Sharks and Bees which are among the animals going extinct at a rate that scientists are calling a mass extinction.

Or the health of our oceans which are filling with microplastics at a rate that is doubling every year all of which is being absorbed into our food chain.

Spiritual people with your ziplock bags  and your starbucks cups and your pineapple peach HINT water… I’m talking to you.

Just like those numbers in YNAB I couldn’t actually see or touch, we don’t see what happens with that Frappichino you were drinking after you threw the cup and straw away. You don’t have to think about how the earth is impacted by your garbage. Or how communities of color and the poor suffer out of site from those of us living in privilege with the consequences of our consumption not to mention the politicians and corporations who could give two shits.

Yeah. Maybe it’s time we bring back some scarcity thinking.

Let’s do it for the grocery budget. For the rainforest. For the ocean. For the turtles. And for future generations being taught to consume at a pace that is no longer sustainable.

Because abundance thinking is a beautiful thing but not if it’s keeping our spirit loving heads in the sand.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Shannon September 13, 2019 at 12:39 pm

Well said! Not only did I get a much needed chuckle out of that, but you brought up so many topics that I find overwhelmingly dire. Please, have more rants like this! <3


Amy September 16, 2019 at 8:14 pm

You are the best. Thanks Shannon, I will!


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