“Materialism” How Do We Really Measure Our Success and Happiness?

“Owing over $35,000 on 3 cars, $11,000 in student loans and $10,000 in credit card debt” is scary, not to mention mortgage payments adding up to $200,000. This is what a Delaware couple was going through about 5 years ago. They were deep in credit card debt from careless spending. The Wilsons realized they needed to make a change, to ensure they were not constantly worrying about what they would do if something unexpected happened. The couple began living on less and only buying what they needed. Due to theses changes, they are now living with little debt and most of their mortgage is paid off. The wife says she “is now proud to say that if she lost her job tomorrow, she has enough savings so that her family could live comfortably for a year.” They feel more relaxed when thinking about the future because they are prepared for the surprises in life. This story comes from ABC News, “Some Consumers Rethink Materialistic Lifestyle” . Many are not as fortunate as the family in this story, and do not realize their mistakes until it is too late to turn it around. 

Why is this same thing happening to many young adults?? It is because we live in a society where materialism is being promoted and taught to children. Materialistic consumers tend to be young and highly involved with clothing, and purchase compulsively. Materialism is the desire for wealth and material possessions with little interest in ethical or spiritual matters.


Teaching Bad Habits

All human behavior starts at a young age and is taught to kids or adopted by following example. Kids naturally want things, especially when they see someone else with something they like. On top of this there are now brands such as Nike, Converse, Vans, that people (myself included) feel like we need to have in order to be “cool”. This problem continues to increase because there is little restraint on what one can and can’t have. Parents are providing their kids with whatever they want as long as they are able to afford it.

The concept of “earning” what you get is being thrown out the window. 

If kids don’t understand that you have to work for the things you want, then they will grow up with no sense of saving.



Needing v.s. Wanting

Many people are also unaware of the difference between needing something and wanting something. Whenever I go shopping with my mom and I want to buy something, she asks me if I really need it and usually my answer to this question is no. In the moment I am a little annoyed, but when I think about it, I am glad someone is there to remind me of what is important. If I really want something then I buy it with my own money and this helps me understand what it means to be smart about money.

We have a mentality of getting what we want and this causes people to buy things even when they can’t afford it.

This behavior is accepted when we are kids, but when one becomes an adult, it can lead to dangerous consequences. The things we want cannot become more important than the things we need. From “If You Shop on Thanksgiving, You Are Part Of The Problem”, author Matt Walsh says,

“That’s our entire economic system: buy things. Everybody buy. It doesn’t matter what you buy. Just buy. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have money. Just buy. Our entire civilization now rests on the assumption that, no matter what else happens, we will all continue to buy lots and lots of things. Don’t create, or produce, or discover — just buy. Never save, never invest, never cut back — just buy. Buy what you don’t need with money you don’t have.”

Credit: Pexels.com

 Possessions More Important Than People

Our world has evolved into a place where we value possessions more than people. Money cannot really buy happiness but we still continue to buy things thinking it will. Materialism is the root of this problem. When people focus on getting whatever they want, they begin to forget what is really important. Materialistic people are less happy because they measure their happiness by how much stuff they have. This becomes the center of their life because they constantly buy more stuff in order to be “more happy”. An example of this is Thanksgiving. Black Friday has driven its way into our Thanksgiving. Black Friday caters to consumerism, which is driven by materialism. Thanksgiving is meant to be a time that we spend with our families and give thanks for what we have. Now, it is when we buy more stuff, stuff that we don’t need.

Credit: Pixabay.com

Family Time Turning Into Shopping Time?

According to the article “What Is Black Friday? Sales Trends”, the day after thanksgiving which is known as Black Friday, is the busiest shopping day of the year. On top of this,  30 percent of annual retail sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas. In 2015, nearly 35 million people went shopping on Thanksgiving. Time that is meant to be spent with family is now being spent shopping for cheap items that are not even needed most of the time. So why are we doing this?

The thought of getting something new, for cheaper than it should be is addicting to consumers.

While it may seem like one is saving money, they are spending money on things they don’t need which costs them more in the end. In 2016, between the months of November and December, $655.8 billion was spent averaging about $938.58 per person. Spending this much money on items changes peoples’ values. People were created to be loved and things were created to be used, not the other way around.


 Consequences of Materialism

Is there really any wonder why the average adult is $15,000 in debt at any given time? We crave new items. Our literal love for material goods causes us to sacrifice our rationality in exchange for things we can’t afford. If one continues to buy things they can’t afford then eventually they won’t even be able to buy things that are necessary to live. Materialism leads to debt and if it goes too far it could change a person’s life forever. Materialistic beliefs can also lead to depression in children. If people believe that happiness is linked to money and success then that is what they strive for. When they cannot reach their goals it makes them feel powerless. Misconceptions of happiness lead to unhealthy motivations because it makes people want something that is hard to attain and control.

Post by KatieB. Featured image credit: Pixabay.com                            

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One thought on ““Materialism” How Do We Really Measure Our Success and Happiness?

  1. I really love your post! I actually did the opposite idea of this topic (minimalism). You were very clear in describing the issue and it’s effects, especially when it comes to changing our morals and essentially our lifestyle. If our morals and priorities change (for the worse) as a population, it could cause a revolution for generations to come (that’s kinda scary to think of). I like how you stress the importance of this issue, prove that it’s more apparent than we think and that you instill a bit of fear in us to change for our future. Your post made me reconsider the materials in my life and I might just try to diminish my belongings…again, when I go home. Thank you for acknowledging the morals we often forget or take for granted! : )

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