How Consumerism is Affecting our Children

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The past year or so, my family has really started cracking down on needless spending- those “ooh I want that” or “I gotta have that” and has led us to pay off some significant amounts as well as teach us a lesson in money management. This year we used most of our tax refund money to pay toward said debts and it really makes us feel great to not have that burden. The reason we got into that money problem, of course, was consumerism, which affects our lives in major and seemingly insignificant ways.

From better health and diet, sanity, being truly happy with less, spending time with those you care about versus spending money, finding ways for “free” entertainment, using coupons a LOT, discount codes when online shopping, finding ways to “do it for less”, making homemade baby food and household cleaners (dishwasher detergent, laundry soap, etc), scouring for used items on Ebay and FaceBook resale groups, etc I’ve come to learn that I really love saving money on things I need to buy anyway. It’s almost a game to see how much money I can save. My former self would laugh at the current me for being “cheap” but I don’t see it like that. I see it as being smart.

Why pay the price for a new item where it doesn’t really matter if it’s new ? Certain things we all want new like undergarments, socks, diapers and wipes for our kids, shoes, body care/cleaning, makeup, etc. Those are probably the only things you TRULY need new. When we got our first place we got all the living room and dining room furniture used. Henredon couch was $150. China cabinet was $100. Dining room table with 3 leaves and 6 chairs was $100. Chair was $100. Another chair was $100, re-upholstered for $400 with velvet. Papsan chair and cushion was $40. Coffee table and 2 large end tables was $250. My home looks great and even though it’s not “matchy matchy” I like it like that. It’s not gaudy or awful, it’s pleasantly different. And having it that way saved us tons of money. If we had bought the couch new, it would’ve been $4,000 !

If more people were thrifty, used coupons, shopped sales and/or at wholesale clubs, filled up their gas tank at wholesale clubs or the cheapest gas station in town, bought things in bulk (water bottles, cans of soda, rice, chicken broth, etc) versus buying one at a time for $1.50 (I can get a 24-pack of Zephyrhills for $5), bought a car and kept it until it died versus leasing or getting a new one every 5-8 years, stopped buying their pets so many toys and actually played with them for once, spent time with the family talking and eating and interacting versus watching TV together and not uttering a word- I think our lives would be so much different.

You cut out media’s influence : TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, Pinterest, Facebook, etc and start living a life where you and your friends and loved ones are the focus and I promise you that you’ll stop wanting things. You’ll stop comparing yourself to your neighbor, your coworker, your friend. Everyone has problems and I can nearly guarantee that if we were to stop letting media have such an influence over our lives and what the media thinks it “should be” and went back to living “the simple life” where family is paramount, eating at home is the norm, and obesity doesn’t exist, we would all be much happier and healthier.

Parents spend so much money on their kids these days from kids bedroom TVs to game consoles to clothes and cars and iPads that it’s nauseating watching it happen. I once saw a 6 year old girl with her OWN cell phone. This has got to stop. We need to let children be children, let them play outside, and get dirty. Those clothes are washable. Those shoes are washable. So what if your kid gets a bit dirty ? I’d much rather have my child come home with a big grin on their face and be a bit dirty than come home squeaky clean and afraid of upsetting me that they cannot properly enjoy themselves. Kids are messy business and we owe it to them to let them have fun. We should be spending quality time with our children and not extravagant birthday parties, outings, or trips that parents struggle to pay for and that children will hardly remember. Some of the best times a child has are the simple, quiet moments when imagination is the thing that makes the moment magical.

Kids these days are overburdened with toys, activities, and things to do. They walk into their playroom filled to the brim with toys and become so overwhelmed they don’t know what to play with, so they leave. It’ll save you money, time, and waste by just getting a few simple toys (blocks, balls, cubes, mega blocks, Lincoln Logs, covered sandbox with toys) for your children and a few high-end toys (swingset, “real life” toys like play kitchen, wooden train set, climbers, etc). A lot of these items you can get second-hand like at children’s resale shops, Ebay, Craig’s List, garage sales, furniture resale shops, and even through local classified ads (newspaper, FaceBook groups, etc).

Let’s let kids know that they are loved and cherished by offering primarily our time, not our money, and see what the results are. I am going to do this with my kids (mostly out of obligation, partially out of choice) and raise them so they know that it’s time and memories made that are the most valuable thing of all.

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