There’s an epidemic sweeping the country. It’s not your typical virus, but rather a highly contagious disease of epidemic over-consumption. The symptoms include compulsive shopping, high debt, overwork, inability to delay gratification, a sense of entitlement, obsession with externals and “having it all,” wastefulness, and stress.
Concern over affluenza is more than dismay at the aggressive vulgarity of materialism. It has become too easy to become obsessed privately with more income and better goods, and collectively with “growth” and “progress”. Yet prophets and scriptures have told us repeatedly that greater prosperity does not lead to increased happiness.
A good budget is more than just living within your means. It’s not a problem with money (either too much or too little) as much as it is a problem with money being the focus of our decisions One can live within one’s means and still fall victim to the disease of affluenza.
Are you suffering?
Here are some questions to see if you might be suffering from affluenza:
- Do you spend money on things that give little real satisfaction?
- Do you find your time is consumed by jobs you don’t even like just to get ahead?
- Do you measure your success or satisfaction by the things you own or the power and/or prestige you enjoy?
- Do you feel your life or space is cluttered with things?
- Do you find you have little time to enjoy family and friends?
- Do you have no time to participate in community?
- Do you have too little time to nurture yourself intellectually, culturally, or spiritually?
Carry this card
Here is an an excellent article on non-consumerism. It suggests we carry a card with these 13 questions printed on it and ask yourself these questions before buying something:
1. Is this purchase something I need?
2. Do I already own something that will serve the same purpose?
3. Can I borrow one instead of buying new?
4. Can I make something that will serve the same purpose?
5. Can I buy a used one?
6. Would someone be willing to split the cost and share this with me?
7. Can I buy or commission one made locally?
8. Can I buy one that was made with environmentally responsible materials?
9. Can I buy one that serves more than one purpose?
10. Can I get something human powered instead of gas or electric?
11. Can I compost or recycle it when I’m done with it?
12. What is the impact on the environment of the full life cycle of it?
13. Does the manufacture or disposal of it damage the environment?
If you were to ask yourself these questions before making a purchase, how would this affect your household budget?
For your convenience, I’ve created a downloadable card with these questions. Print it, cut it out and fold it in half. Then put your credit card inside the folded card. See if this helps you with your buying decisions.
A couple more links:
“Advertisers who promote and shape our consumer culture seek to condition us to the idea that by trading our life energy for the money needed to buy their product, we will fulfill our hopes for power, happiness, security, acceptance, success, fulfillment, achievement, and personal worth.” (from Affluenza.org.) The result is alienation, emptiness, debt, and failed marriages and family relationships.
Don’t let this disease creep into your life.