Taking the Consumer Out of Consumerism.

With all the bleak news reported daily and seemingly updated by the hour, it is impossible to not be aware of the panic surrounding the economy and where it is headed. The downturn in the economy does not just affect the United States or the wealthy; it affects everyone across the globe. While you can’t fix the problem single handedly, each of us can work hard to minimize the effect it has for our personal lives.

We are a nation of consumers, to be honest – excessive consumers. In an effort to keep up with the Joneses, we have become dependent on credit and debt to keep the cycle of consumption at an all time high. Surprisingly one of the definitions of consumerism is the theory that an increasing consumption of goods is economically beneficial. It seems that theory only applies when people can actually afford to consume in excess, which obviously has not been the case over the last several years. Clearly if there was every a time to look at your spending and your lifestyle, the time is now. The following tips will help you consume less, save more and live a simpler life.

Think before you buy. This novel concept has worked for generations. Before your make your next purchases think about what you are buying and decide how necessary the item is in your life. This will work for big ticket items as well as daily expenses. If you take the time to think about what you really need and what you can live without you will lower your expenses, produce less waste, and keep more money in your pocket. For a generation of individuals who have become accustomed to immediate gratification and wanting for little, this may be a tough lesson-but obviously one that is long overdue.

Can you afford it? Another simple yet often overlooked question. This may not necessarily mean do you have the resources today to pay for a purchase. Think on a larger scale; is this the best use of your money? Could you do without the purchase and invest the same money in a savings or emergency fund that can grow and contribute to future funds.

Consume less. Not only do we consume a lot of “stuff”, we consume huge amounts of natural resources in the production of said stuff and maintaining our convenient lifestyles. Buying locally, reducing waste, recycling, and making any effort for a more sustainable lifestyle will go a long way toward reducing your expenses and making a positive impact in your life.

Changing the way you think about spending is similar to a diet. It is not going to work if you do it for a few days and expect immediate results. In order to reap the rewards, you will have to make a lifestyle change and stick to it. After decades of over consumption you might just find that less really IS more.

Trisha Wagner is a freelance writer for DestroyDebt.com, a debt community featuring debt forums. Trisha writes regularly on the topics of getting out of debt and personal finance.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Miranda says:

    Great post. Sometimes it helps to sit back and remember that stuff isn’t always the answer — especially expensive stuff.

  2. Jules says:

    Great article. Simplicity is often the best route.

  3. You’re right, there are many things we can learn from our parent and grandparents. In this age of plenty it seems we decided not to think about these things anymore and just buy whatever it is we liked. I’m personally glad I have turned my back on high-spending on wants that and I’m just spending (less) on needs.