Living simply in a consumerist society

Written by Sarah Evangeline

When I was 24 years old, I moved in with my grandparents. This was an eye opener for me. It was a gift to see my grandparents’ relationship with each other, as I was raised by a single parent. It was a gift to learn wisdom from people who were older than me.

One of the greatest gifts I learned from my grandpa was how to live below my income. This simply means spending less than what you actually make. 

My grandpa came from a very poor family. He would tell me stories from when he was young. His parents didn’t know how they were going to feed their children, and then groceries would appear at their front door. 

My grandpa and grandma got married young. Neither of them had an education or much money to their name, but my grandpa had determination and a good work ethic. He walked the streets daily looking for work to pay for their one-room apartment. He came across an accountant’s office that said, “We’re hiring.” 

My grandpa had no idea what an accountant was, but he went in and was hired. He spent the next few years educating himself and working for this company. After that, he branched out and created his own business. 

It was only when I moved in with him at 24 years old that I discovered the amazing life he lived. My grandpa was a millionaire, but he never looked like one from the outside. He and my grandma lived in the same house they bought when their children were young. 

After he passed away, people shared story upon story about how my grandpa changed their lives. How he helped teenagers get through college who never could afford it. How he gave jobs to people who had no education, just as he hadn’t. 

I remember my grandpa saying to me, “If you find your purpose in money, you’ll always feel lost. Life’s purpose is about solving a problem and about serving people.”

How many of us fear money? I know I have.

We live in a culture where we’re told our purpose doesn’t matter until we have the degree, the money, or the house. Until we “get there”—whatever “there” means according to whichever standard we’ve learned to value. We consume messages daily that insist our self-worth comes from money and status. 

God’s view is the exact opposite. I have learned that my purpose starts with who God made me, and I bring that identity with me wherever I go.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made, but do we live like it?

We belong before we do anything. Our purpose and our identity is who we are as children of God, not what we do. I’ve learned that I can step into the unknown without fear of the future. 

Today, I’m following in my grandpa’s footsteps in building my own business so I can help others live in their purpose instead of striving for approval. I’m almost 30 years old and I don’t own a car or a house, and I don’t have a partner. I’m currently living in a 500 square-foot apartment that comes with furniture. All I own here are my books, clothes, some plants, and a few kitchen items. 

I have found so much fulfillment and contentment with this perspective on life. Every day I work hard to connect with my community and neighbours and build my business in life coaching. Every day I hope I can help others live out their purpose without fear holding them back. 

I’ll always be thankful for my grandpa’s guidance and for the example he gave me. He helped me realize our worth isn’t found by outsourcing it to external values like how much money we make. When we don’t have to find our value from material things, we are able to live below our means and find contentment there. And in doing so, we’re able to step into deeper surrender to God.