In the West, we are truly addicted to ‘stuff’. We feel poor because we can’t buy everything we want, but nearly all of us have everything we need. Jesus warns of the lure of wealth so often that Christians can feel vaguely guilty about being part of the rat race, while having little insight into how to get out of it or how to prioritise important causes over obtaining the latest iPhone. This book is for those people.
The author faced a pretty severe addiction to shopping, which began to threaten her marriage. She started trying to save money so she could buy all the things she wanted and keep within her means, but somehow this process made her think more deeply about consumerism.
Living Well, Spending Less has a broad scope: it covers goal setting, budgeting, decluttering, time management and practising hospitality. Soukup gives practical steps, such as eating less meat, buying in season and growing vegetables, all based on her own experiences. Some of this is fascinating; her ban on children’s toys, for example.
On the one hand, this book is not ‘super spiritual’ and could probably be given to a non-Christian friend without any red faces. On the other, I am not sure it really explores the underlying causes – whether spiritual or emotional – of our addiction to acquiring ever more material goods.
It is also more an encouragement to wealthy Westerners to keep to a more manageable budget than it is really about stepping out of our culture and living more radically and sustainably. The tips are sometimes very American and not so relevant to the UK reader. Nevertheless, if you know people who really can’t keep within their budget, this is a useful resource.
HEATHER TOMLINSON is a freelance journalist