Consumerism in America

Flash sale! Black Friday! For a limited time only!

Americans are inundated every day with advertisements for limited time only deals that try to get us to spend more of our hard earned money. I see these ads eveConsumerism in Americary day through radio, TV, Facebook, Google, Yahoo – everywhere I go and everywhere I look there is an ad for something – often available at that price for a ‘limited time’ only. I started to wonder how much consumerism there is in America today.

consumerism = the preoccupation of society with the acquisition of consumer goods

Americans seem to have this desire for always wanting more things they don’t really need.  I admit I’ve jumped on the bandwagon too, so I could get something at a great price… But over the past few years I’ve curbed my spending. Now, I like to take the time to think about my potential purchase before I buy and ask myself – is this something I really need? And the usual verdict? No! It’s usually just crap that I didn’t need or want in the first place. I was just enticed by the advertising…

Those who live simply, promoting a lifestyle of owning little, must be appalled at the consumerism. Why do so many people buy things they don’t need?

Keeping Up With the Joneses

Sometimes buying more things is all about keeping up with the Joneses. We want to impress others by buying status symbols like cars, jewelry, or brand name anything.

Keeping up with the Joneses – the comparison to one’s neighbor as a benchmark for social class or the accumulation of material goods

Often though, it could just be that we saw something offered at a good price for a limited time, or even something they thought would be cool to have.  It’s easy to get lured into the deals, especially if they are one-time only deals, there is only a limited amount for sale, or it’s only available this weekend… the pressure to buy it now is so tempting. Our consumer driven society is built on the belief that we always need to buy more of everything. And if we don’t, we are missing out!

You Can Change – Break From The Norm

Over the last few years, I’ve become more frugal, so thankfully these types of sales aren’t as tempting as they once were to me.  My desire is to live simply and enjoy life with less. But what about the rest of America?  We are a society set on spending more and more money.  That’s why so many baby boomers are now in a scary financial situation as they head into their retirement years.  I’m convinced people often buy things they don’t really want, but society makes them think they need those things.

New Spending Habits – Track and Save!

There are ways to rid ourselves of bad spending habits and replace them with good spending habits. I often used to buy things I didn’t need or really want… but over time I’ve developed better habits with my money.  Of course, you don’t have to go as extreme as I have and be so frugal, but there are some habits you can start to help you spend less:

Saving for a rainy day
  • Start tracking what you’re spending. This is a great way to see where all your money is going. A true eye-opener! Mint and Personal Capital are 2 great online tools that make spending much easier to track.
  • Create a budget with savings goals. Continue to track your spending and savings against your budget, so you can see your progress.
  • Stop and think before you buy. Do you need it? Do you actually want it? Ask yourself why you are buying the item? Discretionary spending is often a choice.
  • Analyze what you are spending money on. Do these things make you happy? What expenses can you cut or reduce?
  • Finally, start to incorporate thrifty spending habits. Start small. For example, bring your lunch to work a few days a week, cook dinner at home more, or just start to stop and think before buying anything.

If you start to make small changes to your spending, eventually you will break your bad habits, like  impulse buys, and basically just stop buying crap you don’t need. Of course, I also believe you need to create your own happiness and live a life that you love, so you need to be careful that any spending changes you make doesn’t diminish your happiness.  For me, saving money and feeding my savings now, and watching it grow gives me a lot of happiness. I know that it will lead me to fabulous life of financial independence and early retirement.  It makes me feel proud of myself and grateful that I can enjoy living a simple life.

So, be mindful of the changes you make, but also know that new financially healthy habits can improve your future and help provide peace of mind.

“Stop buying things you don’t need, to impress people you don’t even like.” — Suze Orman

8 thoughts on “Consumerism in America

  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this article. You don’t deny the importance of money, in fact you highlight its importance by proclaiming that it’s not being used appropriately in America. I agree that consumerism has become a real problem in our country. Have you ever seen that documentary on Netflix about minimalism? I think it’s called Minimalists, but I can’t remember. Anyway, you should check it out. I just bookmarked your page. Thank you 🙂

    1. Thank you Sean! Yes, I did watch the documentary on Netflix a couple weeks ago all about Minimalists called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things (I had to google the actual name 🙂 ). It definitely represents my thoughts about how commercial we’ve become. If we can all learn to live with a little less… it’s a hard habit to break! Thanks for stopping by and I appreciate the comment. ~Jen

  2. Wow, this article is really interesting!

    Consumerism is not only emerging in America but also to the other places in the world as well!
    I love the way you have included the common definition of these words and phrases that are often used in sales.
    What we need should never be sacrificed for our wants, especially when our liking of a certain thing is only temporary.
    The necessities of life could help us survive longer than we can with our wants. Given this, it should be spread to the
    rest of the humanity to somehow reduce consumerism.

    You have the potential to open the minds of the masses regarding this subject. Keep up!

    1. I like your view that liking certain things is often only temporary – that is so true! We buy things immediately because we think it will bring us happiness and joy, but in reality it is only a temporary feeling. I hope that if I can help people start spending more on only the things they need (house, food, clothes), and less on the things that they don’t (expensive cars and clothes, jewelry, etc.), I can help them save more too!

  3. Hey Jen. Can promise you that it’s not only in America that consumerism is big. Here in Sweden too. And I have the last years been thinking about it more and more.

    I still do buy things that is not 100% must. But not in the same extent. And I prioritize spending more free time in life instead of spending more “work hours for my consumerism”. And I try to be even better on it, both for my own economy, but also for the sake of beeing a bit nicer to the earth.

    Thanks for an inspiring article!

    And ya, it sounds like you recommend the minimalist documentary on Netflix? I thought about seeing it some days ago. So maybe I should give it the time some evening. 🙂

    1. I definitely recommend the documentary on Netflix, it’s very enlightening about how much we spend on needless things and how you can be happier with less. I think the majority of people still give in to consumerism and buying lots of “stuff” to make them happier. Like you said, it’s often a trade-off between time and money. Once you start spending less money, you will find you have more time to spend with family, friends, and doing the things you love!

  4. Excellent article! This is a topic that I wish was discussed more often in society. Social media has definitely made it a trend to show off things that we buy for the sake of competition. When will saving and investing be in style?

    Making small changes to one’s spending is a great suggestion especially for those with a serious habit. It makes it clear that saving is not impossible and that it can be done with the right mindset.

    Let’s make financial freedom the goal to achieve!

    1. Saving and investing really needs to be a trend to start. Let’s do it!
      It’s painful to see that most people have a such a hard time changing their habits. However, I agree, with the right mindset and by starting to make small changes, it can be done.
      Financial freedom here we come! 🙂

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