Around the globe, seniors are seeing their retirement incomes drop as the value of their investments falls. Seniors still in the work force may be losing jobs or having to compete with younger workers for the jobs that used to be readily available to older workers. Adult children who might have helped their elders are having their own financial challenges. Such changes bring stress as people adjust to an unwelcome reality and try to find ways of living on less income.
Some people have been caught by surprise, and because they were living merrily along, they have more potential to change their lifestyle than they realize. Others were just getting by, and now having even less creates real hardship. No matter which group you fall into, or somewhere in-between, try these five green steps to taking charge of your life. No one can do it as well as you can do it for yourself!
Five Green Steps to Help You Cope
1. Learn something new. Knowledge is an extremely useful tool, and it can be acquired in a great many ways, many of them free. Choose a topic you are highly motivated to learn more about. Then go to your public library to start finding the resources you need. Remember, knowledge is power.
2. Improve your health and fitness. This is a good time to quit smoking, or lose weight, or get more fit by walking. You might decide to eat less meat or to improve your diet in other ways. There are many ways to achieve these, of course. One person will buy new walking shoes and an electric treadmill, while another will just go walking. One person will buy new cookbooks, a food processor, and expensive groceries, while another will enjoy a peanut butter sandwich for lunch and bean tacos for supper. Obviously, to be green, and to be good advice for hard times, we advocate the no cost/lower cost option.
3. Do It Yourself (DIY). Even staunch DIY folks probably have some things they haven't thought of trying, to save money during hard times. Just the very suggestion of doing something new will have them going in a new direction--a strong DIY inclination is a joy and a blessing. You may not have grown up in a family of do-it-yourself-ers but you can still give it a try. It's a wonderful way to feel a sense of accomplishment when the outside world is saying you don't have value. Besides, almost anything you do yourself at home is greener than the alternative. Growing food is one of the most popular DIY areas.
4. Save, repair, and re-purpose. Reduced buying power forces people to do what they could have done all along--stop the endless cycle of buying, using carelessly, and throwing away. The value of an object is not its cost in money, but its cost in a degraded and polluted environment.
5. Help someone else in need. If we think about the resources we still have, we see that we can contribute to the well-being of others, just as they contribute to ours. You may have specialized knowledge or skills to share, or you have retained your health and vigor, or you have some possession (spare furniture, a big sunny backyard, garden or woodworking tools) that could be shared, loaned or donated.
These five action steps are interrelated. If you decide to start your own backyard garden (#3-DIY), you probably need to learn how (#1). In the course of doing it, you will improve your health and fitness (#2). Your garden might inspire you to compost your suitable kitchen waste (#4) while giving some surplus food to a neighbor (#5).
The new morality of Thrift. Thrift is suddenly respectable again. But, thrift today is not just a matter of living within one's financial means. It's a matter of living within the earth's means.
Green Seniors can redefine the admirable lifestyle. We know these five action steps are the way most green seniors have always lived. Now, it's time to be proud of that lifestyle.
It's time to show the world that a lifestyle of consumption and waste, disregarding earth and all its forms of life including our own, is more disgusting than glamorous.
Happiness and security are not as money-dependent as you think. Happiness is really a state of mind, and security is a larger concept than just financial security. Knowledge, life skills, self-reliance, strong ties of family, friends, and community, all matter. If financial problems are thwarting you now, the five action steps will help you shore up the areas you can strengthen.
The world is full of opportunities and unexpected pleasures. When change is forced upon us, that is when real personal growth can occur. No matter how old we may be, we can keep growing in love, wisdom, and charity towards others. Those virtues are the very foundation of living Green.