If you’re tired of always hearing me yapping here’s a nice change! Cameron typed up some of his thoughts on purchases:
People think of frugality as self-inflicted poverty, asceticism, or scrooginess. But you, the readers of Katy’s blog, already know that a frugal lifestyle does not have to be any of those things! So if that isn’t what frugality is, then what is it?
Every day we are bombarded by an endless march of advertisements telling us that if we buy this certain product, or service, we will be happy. This attitude of consumerism for its own sake has crept into our very culture. We are raised being taught that the American dream is best exemplified by a lifetime of hard work in order to gain newer, nicer, and better toys. We disguise this inherently selfish attitude with statements like “We need a new house, for the children” or, “I just want to give the best to my family.”
But who is really deciding what is best for your family?
Is a new jet ski “good for your family”? According to the manufacturers and advertisers of jet skis, it is.
Will smothering your children in a mountain of expensive toys make them happy and love you? Wal-Mart and Toys R Us would sure like you to believe so.
Is fulfillment just one $300 a month payment on a flashy sports car away? I don’t think so, but hundreds of car commercials featuring a middle-aged man smiling contentedly behind a faux-leather steering wheel with a women much younger than him in the passenger seat would say other wise.
It is my opinion, that in many ways, frugality is the polar opposite of consumerism!
Consumerism, as I have already described, tells us to buy, for the sake of purchasing alone. It tells us that there is an inherent good in the act of buying and consuming a product or service. It says that your life cannot be complete unless you have consumed an ever expanding set of consumables.
Frugality, on the other hand, teaches us that the act of purchasing a product or service is not an inherently worth-while act, but rather, it is a neutral act that is simply a means to an ends. We don’t consume products to be happy or achieve the statuses portrayed in the fantasy world of advertisements; we consume products only if they are something we need.
Rather than listening to the barrage of sellers trying to trap us into giving them our money, we learn to find ways to buy those same items cheaper, or better yet, to not buy them at all! We learn to analyze our needs, wants and desires and find the BEST way to meet them.
A truly frugal person saves, purchases used, doesn’t buy, “goes without”, re-purposes, etc, because he or she recognizes the consumerism lifestyle for what it is: an absolute lie.
As a means to help myself think more logically about my purchases in order to escape the trap of consumerism, I have written down a few questions that I try to answer before making a purchase. These are not things I came up with on my own, they are tips and rules I have heard and read throughout my life. What follows is timeless wisdom originating with people much smarter than me:
5 Questions to answer before purchasing
- Do I really need this?
- Am I buying this because I want to change my mood or make me happy?
- Am I being tricked into buying something I don’t need because it is “on sale?”
- Are my reasons for buying this built solely on information provided by the people who will profit from my purchase?
- What kinds of emotions do I have muddling my thinking about this? (excitement, for example)
I hope these questions help you as much as they have helped me in keeping you from following the path of mindless consumerism. It is a trap we can all fall into, and like other things, if we use our heads, rather than emotions and hype, we can avoid it.