Saving and Spending Are the Same Thing

Here’s another nugget from my book to whet your appetite:

As a point of lurid interest, refusing to buy anything may be anti-materialist but it is not anti-capitalist even if that’s your intention.

When you stop buying things but continue to earn money through work, your earnings continue to serve the capitalist machine. The bank in which you store your wealth “spends” your savings when they invest it. (That’s why the bank pays you interest: as a reward for letting them play with your money.) Perversely, saving and spending actually amount to the same thing so far as the economy is concerned.

But when you reduce your income as well as your spending, it actually does hurt the capitalist machine! If your motivation to engage in minimalism is to smash the system, you must remember to reduce your income as well as your spending. Thus, only Escapological minimalism, since it aims to reduce work as well as consumption, will genuinely throw a spanner in the works of capitalism.

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Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

8 Responses to “Saving and Spending Are the Same Thing”

  1. Bev says:

    YES!!!! I have often said the most radical thing I ever did was quit my job. I’m not spending that money, no bank or fund is blowing up the world with it, and I’m not paying taxes on it either. And due to incessant downsizing and efficiencies, they didn’t even fill my position when I left, they just gave all my responsibilities to some other poor corporate wage slave. I’m probably on some kind of watch list, though.

  2. So true. I might add that sentence to the paragraph. “Quitting your job could be the most radical thing ever do.”

  3. chrisbo says:

    This is not technically true of course because the company pay your wages from the company bank account. If they did not pay you, they would pay somebody else or keep it in the bank thus earning interest. All part of the pie. The UK government increase their pie by attracting wealthy foreigners to invest in the UK this bringing fat greedy cash capital inflows. I could go on but it’s a frickin horrible system and there is no end to this because any defaults and the banks will get bailed out blah blah blah

  4. That pie is GDP though, to which your earnings contribute. And the wealthy foreigners theory supposes trickle-down which doesn’t really happen — the wealthy foreigners, as I understand it, have been brought in (deliberate attracted by tax breaks) to pump up GDP as a kind of economic window dressing. I have it on pretty high authority that the “escapological minimalism” thing described in the post is the case. I’m really not an expert myself though and I’m happy to be educated so I can make the book as accurate as possible. Drop me an email if you can? I’m at

  5. underscored says:

    you misunderstand modern money. as described by the bank of england, in the modern era money leant by the bank is created by the borrowers promise not from savings. google bank of england q1 2014 bulletin, they have a video series and some more technical papers

  6. Cheers Underscorred.

    Here’s the document for anyone else who’s interested.

  7. David Bourgeois says:

    Do you think purposely trying to work less and make less money is a sensible idea when most people need to save for retirement? Someday I am going to be old and maybe too sick to keep working. What would I do then? Scavenge for food in dumpsters?

  8. Hello David Bourgeois. I like your name, by the way. Are you a punk?

    Welcome to New Escapologist. We’re a magazine and you’ve landed at the companion website. We discuss the idea that being less dependent on money and working less can lead to a better life. The people who write here are advocates and/or practitioners of unusual ways of living, and our general feeling about old-age retirement is that it’s pie-in-the-sky.

    Dumpster diving? If you like. This chap does well enough out of it. But if that’s not appealing, you could learn about the alternatives. I’d normally recommend an issue of New Escapologist or my forthcoming book as a starting point but they’re admittedly not for everyone.

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