Earn more or spend less

There are fundamentally two ways for people to become more financially secure. The first is to earn more and the second is to spend less.

In modern developed societies, the ‘earn more’ way has led to too much production and too much consumption, which are unsustainable. Humans on average are already using more resources than the earth can sustain – in the western world it is about five times more than the earth can sustain. If everyone follows the earn more route things are just going to get worse. 

Earn more

Also, overall, the ‘earn more’ route is not good for your well-being. The ways in which the ‘earn more’ way detracts from well-being include:

  1. Stress – the need to constantly perform and compete often leads to stress. Chronic stress can lead to physical and psychological problems.
  2. Dissatisfaction – working just for the money (or ‘working for the weekend’) is not a good way to spend your life. Something like 80% of people are at least somewhat dissatisfied with their jobs. There are all sorts of reasons given but one of the biggest is their manager/supervisor/boss.
  3. Over-work – which is not good for a healthy work/life balance. It can lead to feelings of guilt and resentment, not to mention the possibility of burn-out if it is taken too far for too long. 

One of the most common regrets people have on their deathbed is that they wished they hadn’t worked so much. If you couple that with the fact that 80% of people are not satisfied with their jobs you have a very good argument for taking the ‘spend less’ route.

Spend less

Spending less means you will have a smaller ecological footprint. This is good for both people and the planet. Spending less essentially has two aspects to it – economising and self-sufficiency.

Economise through simple living

The most potent way to economise is simple living. Having only what you need for the well-being of everyone in your household is called sufficiency. It means that you are getting the maximum well-being from the least resources. There is no austerity or deprivation of any sort. The idea is definitely not to have too little, it is all about not having too much. The Goldilocks approach is to have just the right amount for well-being.

In other words, spending less doesn’t mean you are going to go cold and hungry, on the contrary, simple living means you will be comfortable, stress free, guilt-free, satisfied and fulfilled.


Of course spending less is not just about being thrifty, it is also about being more self-sufficient – in food, goods, energy and shelter.

Self-sufficiency is about producing as much as you can yourself. If you can produce at least some of your own food, goods, energy and shelter then you are more secure than you were. Also, you are much more secure than a person who totally relies on a job for those things.

Self-sufficiency involves extra work but this could be offset by working for money less often. Indeed, this would be the goal towards greater security. No-one can produce all the goods and services they need for well-being. Also, working is an important part of well-being; for instance, it can provide feelings of self-worth and a job well done. Work also provides opportunities for personal development, fulfillment and social interaction.

To get these benefits, part of self-sufficiency might be to work from home as an artisan, craftsperson, tradesperson or any sort of service provider. This would give you more flexibility to choose your hours and to determine your own work conditions generally.

To earn more or spend less?

In conclusion, the earn more approach might seem attractive but it is neither the best solution for people and definitely not for our shared planet. More and more people are finding that simple living gives them lives much richer in the things that really matter like family, relationships, personal development, confidence, peace, resilience and security.

Just imagine the Joneses are the thriftiest people around, try and keep up with them!