Living Lagom – The Art of Just Enough

 In Budgeting, On the Home Front

Lagom: Not to little, not tooo much. Just enough.

Anna, our resident Swede, introduces us to the concept of Lagom.

Introduction to Lagom – (the right amount is best)

If you’ve ever met a Swede, you’ll know that they like to take the middle road in just about everything. They like medium roast coffee, they like to mix work and play evenly into their lifestyles, they prefer flavours that are neither bland nor overpowering, and they live in typically economical homes that are neither large nor small. They like the middle ground so much, that they even have a phrase for it: Lagom är bäst”, which translates to “the right amount is best”.

In the current consumer-based climate, we are continually bombarded with messages and prompts to spend, often on things we don’t really need. We can find that much of our spending is on stuff that doesn’t add true value to our overall happiness. We’re not saying that ‘you can’t have nice things’, but it’s worth considering if we really need ‘as MANY’ things. At the heart of it, living lagom ties in with the concept of sustainability, and if we want to consider our personal impact on the health of the planet, we could do worse than to seek a big of lagom in our lives.

We’re not saying that you can’t have nice things, but its worth considering if we really need as MANY things.

IKEA introduces Lagom

Since 2014, IKEA has been conducting a program called Living Lagom, where 150-200 households a year are provided with vouchers to spend instore on items that they believe will help them live a more sustainable and energy efficient life. IKEA road tests their product range and gains valuable insights into what families need to be able to live more sustainably.

Program participants reported drastically reducing the amount of household food wastage, a reduced desire to spend on excess aesthetic items; and feeling enabled to live sustainably, thereby providing a better future for their children and grandchildren.

Lagom – You’ve been there before

Think about your student days, when you were aware of every dollar you earned, and chances are you were very careful with your purchasing choices to make sure you were getting the best deal. If you really wanted to spend big on something, you would usually weigh up your choices, and probably save for a few pay-packets to get it. As we get older, and our pay-packets increase, this need to be so precise with our money often dwindles somewhat, with ease comes complacency, and this is one reason why we can end up spending more than we actually need to. While few of us would choose to return to a time of financial struggle, the discipline of taking time and effort to weigh our purchase decisions could do us all benefit.

Lagom for your life right now

Living lagom is a way for us to become more aware of our consumption, it encourages us to make more informed choices about what we bring into our lives. It holds us more accountable for our choices, and helps us feel more content with our decisions. By taking the time to consider what we really need (as opposed to ‘want’ in the moment), we are able to live lagom, and feel the benefit of enjoying things we like while also enjoying the knowledge that we are not living beyond our means. The nice added bonus of living lagom is that it would seem that you’re likely to save a fair bit of money in the process.

And before you rush into the Lagom lifestyle, take a breath. Remember lagom is not about austerity, it’s about moderation in what you do as well as what you consume. So start small and bring a little lagom to your next purchase. Not too little, not too much.


Three questions ask yourself before your next purchase decision:

  1. Have I truly considered NOT buying this item, would life be really that bad if I walked away today?
  2. Is the cost of this purchase proportionate to the benefit (utility and joy) that I will get from this item?
  3. Have you considered a more moderate option to satisfy this need or want?


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