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 every 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:
- 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