Author Topic: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...  (Read 9165 times)

Offline Amerigo

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Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« on: December 20, 2010, 10:28:56 PM »
I apologize if this topic is in the wrong forum... feel free to move if needed...

One of the major obstacles I have seen in my current prepping, and one I can see being an issue in the future, is materialism.  It's not as hard when I have very little money, but I see it in smaller purchases like a new iPod touch, or upgrading to the newest computer.  I could have used this money to pay down debt, stock up on more food storage, invest in more hard assets, etc. 

When I finish school and actually start making an income, I can see the fire of "getting off the grid", moving out to the country, and living a simple life get dampened by new cars, a big house, etc.   

I know Jack talks about avoiding materialism, and I enjoy listening to it when he does.  I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions on podcasts where this is the major thrust.  Books are great, but I can listen to podcasts while I do housework, walk to school, etc... so I'm really looking for the podcast medium.  Anyone know of some good ones?       

Offline Docwatmo

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2010, 05:21:39 AM »
Start early and stay on path.  Its far easier to avoid it in the first place then it is to correct the mistakes after they are done.  (This is experience talking). 

Your already on the right track, just thinking about this stuff puts you ahead of the game and when you think about it, when the time comes to make a decision on a new purchase, you will have some reasoning skills that most sheeple don't bother with.

Keep on heading down the right road.  Your doing good.  Wish I had a chance to do it all over again,  lots of stupid, idiotic just plain dumb mistakes I've made would not be repeated.

Offline Crimson Wolf

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2010, 09:05:15 AM »
No matter what you need books. As much as I like the podcast, unless I write it down, I still use my info out of books more.

 ;)

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2010, 09:42:36 AM »
I think the key is to be frugal without trying to be ascetic.  We aren't here just to survive.  If something gives you great enjoyment, it's not a horrible sin to put some time and money into it.

I've tried to keep two things in mind:
  • What am I actually going to get out of this purchase?  (For example, if I'm upgrading a computer, do I need a 4-core CPU and a top-of-the-line video card, or can I get 90% of what I want from 2-year-old technology for a third of the price?  What is that remaining 10% actually worth to me?)
  • Am I buying it with my money?  If I have any debt, including a mortgage, the answer is no -- it's the bank's money, and I'll pay interest on it.  And if I don't have any debt, it probably means I'm approaching senior-citizen status and I should consider much of my savings to be "pre-spent" on the necessities of my final few decades.  (Not to say that you should never spend anything -- this is just something to keep in mind for perspective as you're reaching for your wallet.)

Offline mxitman

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2010, 10:39:45 AM »
I agree with Mr.Bill It does make sense to buy things when you really need an upgrade. For instance I had a really old computer and decided I needed more because of my transition to a .com business. I didn't buy the top 20% but settled for what I really needed. It's best to take your time with every purchase and really try to see your self using it and what it's really worth to you.

Offline Nicodemus

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2010, 12:15:06 PM »
My only advice is don't acquire a credit card unless it's something you have and only use in the case of emergencies. And don't buy anything unless you have the money to pay for it right then. The obvious exceptions may be a home and a car.

Offline joeinwv

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2010, 12:36:01 PM »
Since you are in school, break out the microeconomics book and look up opportunity cost. Once you understand the opportunity cost of the decisions you make, the rest is simple.

Since you mention an iPod - that's $350. Would a $40 MP3 player have filled much of the same role?

Moving forward, you have a few student traps already set for you - the biggie is the urge to buy a new car as soon as you get a 'real' job. A new Civic si is fast, reliable, looks good, gets good mileage - seems very easy to justify. Those car payments remove options and accustom you to taking out loans and paying interest.

Rent + student loans + new car payment = you find yourself trapped in a shitty job you hate by age 27

Add in a few kids and a mortgage and now you can't retire until you're 70.

Doesn't mean school, marriage, mortgages and car loans are bad - you just have to be aware of the cost of things, which has little to do with their price.

Offline CBP

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2010, 01:31:52 PM »
Cough!!!  An Ipod costs HOW MUCH?!?!?!?  I'm using a really tiny ugly Mp3 player ($29) and a weird little speaker ($9.99).

Amerigo. . .  you can have anything your heart desires, just understand how many hours of your life you have to give away to have stuff.  Do the math. . .how many hours at what pay do you have to enslave yourself to a boss to pay for that Ipod? 

A favorite book of mine is  Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez

and he also put out a seminar

Transforming Your Relationship With Money

Both can be had in CD form through Amazon and I suspect you are handy enough to run the CD in the computer and poof if over to the little bitty player you are using.  (Ok technology challenged over here!)

I would also suggest that when you do have "real money" that you start with a cash envelope system putting your money for food, gas, clothing etc in individual envelopes.  When the envelope is empty for the week -- you are done spending for that category.  Dries up that urge to impulse quickly. 

Offline Amator

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2010, 02:06:18 PM »
Cough!!!  An Ipod costs HOW MUCH?!?!?!?  I'm using a really tiny ugly Mp3 player ($29) and a weird little speaker ($9.99).

Well, to be fair he's referring to a top of the line iPod Touch that is a mini-computer in addition to being a mp3 player and has 32-64gb of storage.  You can get get a 2gb iPod Shuffle for $49.  I have a few mp3s on my phone, but mostly listen to music at home or in the car.

I second the recommendation for Your Money or Your Life.  Excellent Book. 

You'll need to buy large items as you go forward in life.  Here's what I've learned about buying large things (cars, homes, guns, etc.)

It's almost always better to buy used.
Don't get the top of the line, but don't get the bottom either.  You want dependable longevity.
Buy once, cry once.  (It's better to buy quality item that never needs replaced once than a lot of disposable items)

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2010, 02:17:43 PM »
let me add a rule to Amator...
study your options, talk to the salespeople, and then WAIT THREE DAYS to actually purchase the big ticket item.  It will annoy the salesmen to NO END, and they will threaten price increases, etc. but your peace of mind is worth it.  If it is gone in 3 days, then it wasn't meant to be yours.  and when you walk back in 3 days later and it is still there, tell the salesman you want it at the price it was 3 days ago, or you walk.  They want it moved, so they will deal.
stick to the three day rule.  when we have not, we have regretted it.

Offline elcoyote

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2010, 05:08:21 PM »
The one piece of advice I have is this; if you replace it, get rid of the old one. Donate it, throw it away, whatever, but get rid of. Don't keep boxes and boxes of outdated electronic equipment. I know you think it'll be useful. It won't.

The only exception is if you are keeping one working piece of equipment as a backup. That is useful, but having every mp3 player you've ever bought is just clutter and crazy.

And if you don't use it in a year, you don't need it.

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2010, 05:19:33 PM »
The one piece of advice I have is this; if you replace it, get rid of the old one. ...

...I have to get rid of my Apple II?

I'm going to cry...

Offline Nicodemus

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2010, 05:42:54 PM »
Apple II? Wow, the last time I saw one of those... Well, I think I had seen the original Star Wars the same year.  ;D

On a side note my cousin had, and still may have, an Apple I that he built when they were first introduced. Back then if I'd only been as fascinated by the thing as he was I may have been better off these days.  :D

Sorry for going OT.


Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2010, 05:55:54 PM »
On a side note my cousin had, and still may have, an Apple I that he built when they were first introduced.

Uh, yeah.  Speaking of materialism...

Apple-1 computer sells for $213,000

Might want to tell your cousin about that.

So much for getting rid of old computers. ;)

Offline Nicodemus

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2010, 06:28:51 PM »
If I see him this Christmas I'll ask if he still has the Apple and get some pics if he does.

Offline Nate

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #15 on: December 21, 2010, 06:40:05 PM »
This started as a joke, but now my wife and use it often.   One of us will say  "The cost of that (insert item name here) will buy a lot of rice!"

Which is true.  The rice we buy is 15.00 for 20lbs.  Just 3 months ago it was 13.00.  This has helped us to stop spending frivolously on dinners out.  At most restaurants one entree with drink is about $15 when all is said an done with tax and tip. 

Offline MTUCache

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2010, 09:38:32 PM »
Funny... haven't seen any mention of one of the most important factors that contribute to materialism in today's society. Who you choose to spend your time with..

Whether that's a love interest, spouse, a group of friends, fraternity brothers, co-workers, or whatever, who you spend your time with (and what their interests are) will be one of the biggest factors in how you choose to spend your money.

All of these other suggestions about avoiding credit, contemplating major purchases, etc are all great... but whether or not you even choose to put yourself in those situations (and why) in the first place is fundamental. What you expose yourself to through your friends, family, work, and media is the single biggest factor in that.

Step one, date carefully. If you're great with money and you end up together with someone who's not, not only will it be a constant strain on your relationship, just by the simple act of compromising with them you've strayed away from what you thought was your value-system. I'm married to a spender, we've got the condo, the car, the career, the kids.... it makes things much more difficult (and at the same time she reminds me about living for today as well as tomorrow). Once you're tied into that kind of life it's near impossible to throw off that yoke and change it.

If everyone you know has a $25k car, a computer, a flat-screen, an iPod, and a nice wardrobe, you may think you're doing well when you "settle" for material things that cost only half as much. Meanwhile there's somebody else who just shakes their head at your extravagance. Don't compare yourself and judge yourself on the people around you. Set your own personal goals and blaze your own path to them. Even those who like to stand back and laugh at the herd are still spending far too much of their time watching the herd.

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2010, 09:52:12 PM »
I'll add this.  It isn't materialism to buy good stuff.  If you decide it is worth buying, spend the money and buy quality.  You can spend the money to buy something once that will last a lifetime, or you can save the money now and buy cheap...6 or 7 times.

I'm with the others here.  If you want it and can afford it, buy it.  Just make sure it really is what you want before you bring out your wallet.  Buying things because you think you want them or have to have them just to keep up with the Joneses is a good way to live your life poor and unhappy.

Offline Omega Man

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #18 on: December 24, 2010, 12:18:47 PM »
I'll add this.  It isn't materialism to buy good stuff.  If you decide it is worth buying, spend the money and buy quality.  You can spend the money to buy something once that will last a lifetime, or you can save the money now and buy cheap...6 or 7 times.

I'm with the others here.  If you want it and can afford it, buy it.  Just make sure it really is what you want before you bring out your wallet.  Buying things because you think you want them or have to have them just to keep up with the Joneses is a good way to live your life poor and unhappy.

I've never really understood the mentality of folks who spend money they don't have, on stuff they don't want, to impress people they don't even like.  I honestly think it might be some sort of emotional disorder (some sort of need to impress or earn acceptance or something like that).

When it comes to buying quality vs buying cheap, I must say that there is "quality" and then there is "quality".

When I was a kid, I bought a $5.00 knife at a local flea market.  It was a Chinese import, knock off of the Ka-Bar, it had a hard, molded plastic hand grip, a simulated leather sheath and a full tang.  That cheap knife held an edge well enough, cut everything I needed to cut, chopped branches and served me for well over a decade before I finally lost it crossing a river. 

If I had lost a $100.00 Gerber knife, I'd have been a LOT more upset about losing it than I was.

I went out to a local flea market to see if they still sold them and couldn't find any of that particular style of knife, however they had plenty of the $1.99 "Rambo" survival knives (Chinese imports, made from low grade pot metal that wouldn't hold an edge, with a flimsy vinyl sheath, hollow plastic handle that would break off with very little pressure that held a few matches and a flimsy wire saw that wouldn't cut hot butter, and a compass built into the end of the grip, that pointed to the rising sun in the east indicating that it was north).

I guess my point is that quality doesn't have to be expensive.  It pays to be knowledgeable about the item you are considering buying and if you find a functional, well made item (such as my example of a full tang knife made out of decent grade steel), it doesn't really matter where it was made or what brand name is stamped on it.

I wish now that I'd dropped $20.00 to buy 4 of those ka-bar knock offs back when I had the chance all those years ago.  One for the car, one for the BOB, one to cache with my backup gear and one for everyday use.

Offline Have-Gun-Will-Travel

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #19 on: December 24, 2010, 01:51:22 PM »
Just remember when your debt free you always have extra cash in the pocket to buy things

Offline bj

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #20 on: December 26, 2010, 12:35:41 PM »
Just remember when your debt free you always have extra cash in the pocket to buy things

Thank you for mentioning this!  I second this!

Offline Dawgus

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #21 on: December 26, 2010, 02:37:47 PM »
 The easiest way to start is to go through your house/apartment and figure out what are necessities, luxuries, or convienences. I agree with keeping (some) modern, up-to-date things, but there are many that aren't necessary at all. We've all just grown accustomed to having them. Televisions, kitchen gadgets/appliances,and electronics are often overlooked when thinking about saving money, living simple, and the future.
 
 I've seen so many kitchens with every appliance, gadget, and whooze-whatzit that are totally unnecessary. Do you really need an electric mixer? Electric coffee pot? How about that microwave? Trust me on this one.....ditching a microwave does a lot of things. 1-You're more apt to buy a better quality and/or storable food than the frozen meals and packages. 2-You teach yourself to COOK, rather than just heat-up something in a package. This is an invalueable skill that far too many do not know. If you're used to heating food in a microwave, and there is a SHTF or power outage, you're lost. Go through the kitchen, look at everything in there. IS it necessary? Can you live without it? Does it serve more than one purpose and do nothing but collect dust when it's not getting that random use?

 Electronics are or can be a HUGE expense, and often another unnecessary one. While I agree on an upgraded computer, as long as it does the basic functions that you need, it's enough. Televisions are by far MY biggest pet peeve in electronics purchases. I have a very close friend that has already lost his truck, and is very close to losing his house. But.....the living room has a $1200 oversize lcd/plasma/whatever flatscreen with 5 disc changer, blu-ray, surround sound, and 8 bazillion cable channels. Added all together, it works out to 4-5 car payments. It just makes no sense to me. I wish I could understand the logic behind owning one of these setups, butmaybe I'm just bias in the fact that we've had no cable or antenna TV for 2 years, and that the one we own is probably 12 years old with a cheapo Chinamart dvd player for the occasional movie. I just can't imagine spending nearly two of my house payments for something to sit in front of and waste time. Since ditching the tv, I've seriously read more in the past 2 years than I did in the past ten.

 While I'm sure most would never consider living like we do, I have to say that I wouldn't change a thing. Life has been 100% better since we've simplified ourselves. There are less hassles, lower utility bills, less expenses (from replacing things we didn't need in the first place), less clutter, more learning (spending what was once tv time reading a book now), and a more feeling of closeness with my wife. it's been an amazing journey to simplicity here in the 'burbs. I kinda like being "that wierd guy on the corner".  ;D

Offline Amator

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #22 on: December 26, 2010, 03:03:59 PM »

 I've seen so many kitchens with every appliance, gadget, and whooze-whatzit that are totally unnecessary. Do you really need an electric mixer? Electric coffee pot? How about that microwave? Trust me on this one.....ditching a microwave does a lot of things. 1-You're more apt to buy a better quality and/or storable food than the frozen meals and packages. 2-You teach yourself to COOK, rather than just heat-up something in a package. This is an invalueable skill that far too many do not know. If you're used to heating food in a microwave, and there is a SHTF or power outage, you're lost. Go through the kitchen, look at everything in there. IS it necessary? Can you live without it? Does it serve more than one purpose and do nothing but collect dust when it's not getting that random use?

 Electronics are or can be a HUGE expense, and often another unnecessary one. While I agree on an upgraded computer, as long as it does the basic functions that you need, it's enough. Televisions are by far MY biggest pet peeve in electronics purchases. I have a very close friend that has already lost his truck, and is very close to losing his house. But.....the living room has a $1200 oversize lcd/plasma/whatever flatscreen with 5 disc changer, blu-ray, surround sound, and 8 bazillion cable channels. Added all together, it works out to 4-5 car payments. It just makes no sense to me. I wish I could understand the logic behind owning one of these setups, butmaybe I'm just bias in the fact that we've had no cable or antenna TV for 2 years, and that the one we own is probably 12 years old with a cheapo Chinamart dvd player for the occasional movie. I just can't imagine spending nearly two of my house payments for something to sit in front of and waste time. Since ditching the tv, I've seriously read more in the past 2 years than I did in the past ten.


I personally go for the biggest bang for my buck.  I don't care about having the most up-to-date technology but being a movie lover I wanted a projector and surround sound.  I budgeted $2000 in a savings account for everything and bought it piece by piece over the course of three years as things went on clearance.  By not needing it "right now" I was able to get a $3000 floor model speaker set for $250, a $900 receiver for $200, and a $2,000 projector for $900.  I don't have blu-ray, but use an xBox 360 for all my movie streaming/games/etc which cost around $400 with the games.  Considering that I bought quality I won't have to replace anything other than projector lamps for at least a decade.  Amortized over 10 years, the $1750 expense is definitely worth $170 year for all my electronic entertainment needs.  Now that my system is setup as long as I have a net connection I have all the electronics entertainment I need.

I totally agree with you in principle.  I've volunteered at a food pantry and it's amazing how people who make little to no money and need handouts have $500 phones, $200 sneakers, and gold chains.  Ridiculous.

Offline Omega Man

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Re: Avoiding materialism and living a simple life...
« Reply #23 on: December 26, 2010, 06:08:50 PM »
I totally agree with you in principle.  I've volunteered at a food pantry and it's amazing how people who make little to no money and need handouts have $500 phones, $200 sneakers, and gold chains.  Ridiculous.

Maybe its the nice guy in me that wants to give folks the benefit of the doubt, but I'd LIKE to think that perhaps they bought their phones, sneakers and gold chains back BEFORE they lost their jobs and were just caught flat footed and unprepared, instead of just exploiting the system.