Three Reasons Why Consumerism Will Destroy You

By: JaMarlin Fowler


I write this keenly aware that it is necessary to own things. One of the first lessons I taught my son is the difference between wants and needs as he got older and started to understand money and value.

I have been a minimalist since bouncing between California and Arizona in 2012, and then finally moving to Southern California permanently in 2013.

Cost of living in Southern California is obscenely high (as I’m sure everyone can gripe about their respective area) and my desire to be a minimalist until I got my life together out here is the only reason why I can say I’m a college graduate today.

There are three reasons why a need to consume will ruin your life.

1. Buying things takes your money.

To buy something takes an exchange of something else. The typical exchange is currency for items. However, your trading of currency for material goods comes with a trade off.

For every dollar you spend, that is a dollar you could have spent somewhere else. This is known as opportunity costs. You had to work for every dollar you made (sans taxes and such) and on top of that now you are trading that money (and time) for a good.

While in the present moment it’s hard to focus on the future and stave off spending and splurging, at least use that spending on splurging on things that matter.

There has been a growing movement in this country on experiences over materialism and this is directly tied to that. Memories will last, while material things will go away with time. Spend your money on things that matter.

2. Owning things take your time.

It’s nice to own things. I own a couple of things, but there are few things in my life that I would give up my time for. My family is worth my life so I give them my time.

I’ve had the same car for 6 years. It gets me from point A to point B and to my training gigs and performances. Owning a car means taking time (and money referring to #1) to maintain. I can own a car because I choose to do without permanent housing so I can travel. Opportunity costs says trade what’s important (reliable transportation) for what’s not (privacy when I should be out working anyway).

3. Owning things hold you back.

I have been lucky to take every opportunity I have wanted to take these last five years because I don’t own anything. Not owning things means you don’t have to worry about people taking things from you.

My first year in LA I had things taken from me, but being a minimalist it didn’t matter. I had landlords cheat me out of extra rent or security deposits. You have to live minimally so that when things come up, they don’t ruin you.

Living paycheck to paycheck is hard and I understand ownership makes some feel important. Owning things people cannot take away from you is what truly adds value to your life, such as your education.

The second you stop paying rent, you will lose your house. You miss some car payments they will take your car, regardless of how long you have been paying for it. Invest your life and your time into what matters.

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