Personal Economics: Consumerism vs. Creativity

Borrowing money can be a good thing or a bad thing. If we borrow money and invest it, say in our own business, run that business well and turn a profit allowing us to pay back the loan and prosper in the process, that is a good thing. If we borrow money so we can live an inflated lifestyle – a lifestyle which does not match our income level – then we are treading a path of financial foolishness.

Why do some people borrow money to live inflated lifestyles? There are a number of reasons, no doubt, but I think it basically breaks down like this:

1.) Life is a scary proposition. It is filled with all kinds of uncertainties. And then there is the one big certainty. One day we will no longer be alive. That scares us. Why? Because for most of us the nature of death is the greatest uncertainty going.

2.) One way to establish a feeling of greater certainty and security is to achieve a sense of belonging. For most people there is the desire to fit in with society, to be respected and well regarded.

3.) Shrewd marketers understand this. They have taken consumerism and turned it into the golden path of belonging. We are told – through advertising, promotions and public relations – that if we buy the right shirt or sunglasses or wristwatch or car, etc. that we will not simply fit into society but we will be viewed as leaders. We will be seen as individuals of class and style.

4.) Many high priced luxury goods are marketed as passports to high social standing.

5.) There is no endpoint to acquisition if we are buying things in order to be exalted by the rest of society. The more we buy, to be noticed and looked up to, the more we have to buy to keep up with the competition.

6.) Many people live inflated lifestyles because they are trying to impress other people.

7.) Rampant consumerism, as a lifestyle, leads to disillusionment and, often, unstable finances. Drawing personal satisfaction from acts of creativity, on the other hand, can be enriching and financially rewarding. Oh, and plenty of people in society will look up to us for our contributions.

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