The trouble with consumerism – spending

Need I say more?

 

When you’re in a place where you know that piddling money away on trivial things is a problem, you face a sort of cognitive dissonance – an inability to reconcile two things: what you know you need to do, and what you simply want to do.

A true dilemma.

One that takes true backbone to solve. Quite a lot of things around us these days are designed around a simple goal – how does the evil corporation extract another dollar from your wallet? Now, I’m not saying all commercial enterprises are evil, or that big business is bad. But business is business – the definition of which is exchanging a product for cold hard cash.

Products can come in may forms – not just tangible goods and services, but things like games, in-app purchases, hedging against bad things happening (insurance), or even the right to see something someone else has created, like movies, books, or other forms of artistic endeavors.

Producing product is good. Making stuff is inherently good for all of humanity. Producing things that other people want is the ultimate goal, as they will be willing to trade another product, service or legal tender for said product. All of that is good.

Buying stuff is good. If you have a need and someone else has a product that fills that need, that’s a healthy relationship. I tend to enjoy food. I find it necessary to consume food to sustain life. I am not able, in our modern civilization, to produce enough food on my own to sustain my own life, in addition to all of my other worldly obligations – so, I have to rely on food production businesses to survive. Fortunately enough, I’m not the only one. Most of us buy our sustenance from supermarkets and grocery stores – food producers make the food, sell it to grocery outlets, who in turn sell it to folks like you and I.

This is all good.

Where it gets bad

In our modern day, the costs of designing, manufacturing, and distributing a product are drastically lower than even only 20 years ago. Because of the advent of the internet, globalization and cheap labor, and a number of other things, it’s rather simple to come up with an idea, build a product, and market it to millions, if not billions, of people for very little cost.

Let that sink in.

These days, products can be marketed to millions or billions of people, without a huge investment. This works in a manufacturer’s favor – if I have some product to sell, regardless of margin, I will benefit greatly by this ability to leverage modern technologies to reach huge audiences.

Have you bought a fidget spinner, or do you know someone that has? I have one on order that I haven’t even received yet (justification: supporting a You Tube content creator I enjoy), and the fad is already over. I’m not usually one to jump into fads, but with a hard design and manufacturing cost, it seems like this one would have stuck around a bit longer. Nonetheless, my wallet dollars are in someone else’s pocket for this little gem.

Here’s the problem

When you buy things you really don’t need – and I mean that in the most literal sense, you are doing yourself a disservice and furthering a machine designed to keep you and others like you in a certain position – one of constant, ever churning consumption.

Do I need to enjoy a twenty dollar steak when I have a hankering for a chunk of beef? Do I really need to buy some crappy upgrade to some silly flash game I play when I’m bored? Do I really need to pay ten dollars for a crappy beer when I’m out with friends?

Do I really need to pay some huge banking corporation huge sums of interest to borrow the cash I wish I had but didn’t? 

This, my friends, is the problem

We, and I’m including myself and my family here, buy too much crap that we simply do not need.

We don’t need it!

As a nation, and to a large degree a planet, we have been trained to stop asking the question, “Why do I need this?”, but instead, “They have one, why can’t I?”. The “thing” in this circumstance is inconsequential – we’re no longer buying something because we need it, but simply because we want it. That, friends, should be a huge, hair on fire warning that something is terribly wrong. I say that knowing that most of us, myself included, don’t have the means of purchasing anything and everything they want – if you have those means, great – you can probably stop reading and go buy something.

Most of us have limits, and, as statistics show, most of us exceed the budgetary limits of reality and delve into the financial depravity of credit to buy what we want. This is the true poison of growing wealth and becoming free from financial constraints.

When we spend more than we earn, there is true trouble indeed. And, as in most household (not business) financial situations, the spending is not an investment with a return.

We are spending money on junk that will become worthless and tossed in the trash.

Why continue this pattern?

 

 

This was a long-winded rant, so I filed it in off-topic. Although there are some political and socio-economic slants, the message I’d like to get across is that spending hard earned money on frivolous crap is a recipe for disaster, and no one, not even I, is immune to the temptation.

 

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