Money And Processions: Breaking Free From The Materialism Trap

Money And Processions-Breaking Free From The Materialism Trap
I was invited for a dinner by one of my friend’s last friday. Apart from the host, I didn’t know anyone there. I was left with no choice but to actually use some of the things I learned in The Winner’s Way! So there I was trying to make a liberated conversation.

After some awkward moments of "Hi" and "What do you" I manage to strike conversation with a couple of people. I realized like me, they too were unknown to each other. Eventually our group got comfortable with each other. That’s when one guy brought up the subject of money. One subject that every one seemed to have an opinion about! He started out by making a witty remark about how low his salary was. Then everyone found the "me too" aspect of it, and was fueling the conversation.

One person said that he would be happy if he could earn a salary, which would enable him to buy the things he wanted. For example, if he wanted 42 inch flat screen television, he should be in a comfortable position to buy that. Then another said, "If I can afford it, there is a possibility I might not want to buy it. But it is always nice to know that I can buy it, even if I don’t need it." Even though I could also relate to what was said, I didn’t make any remarks at the time. I thought I would leave it for a blog post!

Anyway, isn’t it true? The more money we make, the more we tend to spend. Most of the time, we want things we can’t afford; when we can afford such item we don’t seem to have the "want" to buy it; the endless cycle of materialism continues. Can you relate to that?

The difference between wants and needs

Our wants and needs are not the same. Of course, you already know that! I want you to take a good look around your household. Tell me honestly, can you spot any items you once bought thinking they were an absolute need. Are you still using those items or are they just collecting dust somewhere?

Sometimes, it is difficult to draw a line between the two. A want for one person, may be a need for another person. They are dependent on our culture, career, lifestyle etc.

Don’t allow yourself to substitute a need for a want

When you looked around your household, surely you must have found several items that you once you stamped as needs.

If you can take the time to start being honest with yourself, you will find that a lot of the things which you assumed were an absolute necessity until now, are in reality, nothing more than wants.

Identify patterns of spending

This is something I did to great effect when I was in my internship. We were given a minimal salary to get by. I wanted to make the maximum out of that and save whatever was possible. At the time, I didn’t know a great deal about budgeting. It all started with a simple list of all things that I found myself buying. Then I ranked each item. I wanted to see what was important and where the money was going.
This will no doubt enable you to notice where you financial priorities are and where it should be.

Temptation, the only thing I can’t resist

Magazines, news papers, television, internet.. In this day and age, we are exposed to loads of advertising. Have you ever felt like everyone is trying to sell you something? Sometimes, we get the need to buy something only when the need is created for us.

No saving is too small

The tendency is more to buy less expensive things we don’t really need. We think, "Oh, it doesn’t cost much, no harm in buying". Over time, these things accumulate and these are some of the things that can be identified by keeping a log of your spending habits.

Life is not ALL about wants and needs

I know that this might sound a bit contradicting. In reality, there are times when we all like to buy the wants. For example, you might want to buy your loved one flowers or a gift. This doesn’t necessarily reflect a need.

What I am trying to say is, don’t be too hard on yourself and forbid yourself of every pleasure. At the end of the day, some things can’t be bought in dollars and cents. Use your best judgment.
"Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." ~ Will Rogers

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Haven said...

We were just discussing this same topic a couple of days ago at the blog I write for. I think its a sign. :)

Enhance Life said...

Hi Haven,
Just visited your blog. Yap.. I suppose there no escape from the "wants" and the "needs".

Thanks for visiting.

Anonymous said...

You know, you didn't really mention anything I hadn't heard or thought of before, but it was so refreshing to hear it in a new way and be reminded again without a lecture! Thanks for the wisdom!

Melanie K said...

Good post - years ago I stopped collecting things that were bought on a whim and never used. My biggest pet peeve is having a lot of "stuff" around. However, this too can go to the extreme. I have to consciously remember to reward myself for hard work and diligent saving.

Nick said...

Shamelle, thanks for the post! An interesting perspective on our personal finances. I'd also like to share with you something that I have been thinking about recently. It's a book called Harmonic Wealth and it’s all about finding harmony in your life in all areas - financial, relational, mental, physical, and spiritual. It has some really good tips about how to engage all five pillars (or areas) of your life, and to learn more about how they complement each other. Rather than dealing with each issue individually, maybe take a look at the bigger picture.
Here’s the link to that book I recommend:
Have a Great Weekend.
- a James Ray Fan

Wendi said...

People always want more than they can afford. Once they make more money, they want even more. I struggle with this a lot.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't happiness matter the most? If shoes make you happy and your huge visa bill doesn't bother you because you are strolling in your new kicks shouldn't that matter most?
My sister is trying to teach me that the way i feel is learned. She thinks if i step outside my way of thinking i will realize how little all of these "things" matter. I don't know who I am without these "things." I am the girl who likes to shop, constant splurging and consumption. Without materialism i don't know who i am. Is that so wrong? And if so. . . How do i find myself? I honestly feel as though i am a very good person who just cares about the wrong things, but where do i start? Do i give up my starbucks first? Numerous nail polishes? closet full of clothing? My fave Hairstylist? What is "okay" to enjoy and what crosses the line into frivolous?
I really hope lots of you respond because i feel as though people always question but never provide answers!
Thanks, Fin

Anonymous said...

I couldn’t agree more with your description of materialism. One unfortunate side-effect of our capitalistic economy is the promotion of more and more material products. Through a company’s attempts to obtain more income and popularity over other corporations, there emerges an idea in society that having a lot of goods “constitutes the highest value and the greatest good in life” (Morley par. 1).
The worst effect this idea can have is that it depreciates the value of the people. There will be citizens who will actually ignore everyone around them in their quest for material gain. The materialistic addiction can even be compared to drugs, in that “as soon as one high wears off, we go in search of another fix” (Russell sec. 4).
I also agree with the idea of spending. If the people in society could only buy the essentials they need, it would restrain the values that exist over cheap, unnecessary goods. This would ultimately allow the people to control their own lives, and not have their lives controlled for them.

Works Cited

Morley, Patrick. A Lifestyle of Thorns. Wisdom for a Higher Life. n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2009.

Russell, Peter. Materialism-An Addictive Theme. The Spirit of Now. 3 Oct. 2009. Web. 5 Dec. 2009.

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