August 17, 2011

Buying Stuff We Don't Need

How much do we spend on purchases of nonessential goods and services? Quite a bit, as it turns out.
"A non-scientific study of Commerce Department data suggests that in February, U.S. consumers spent an annualized $1.2 trillion on non-essential stuff including pleasure boats, jewelry, booze, gambling and candy.
That’s 11.2% of total consumer spending, up from 9.3% a decade earlier and only 4% in 1959, adjusted for inflation. In February, spending on non-essential stuff was up an inflation-adjusted 3.3% from a year earlier, compared to 2.4% for essential stuff such as food, housing and medicine."
- source
Since American consumer capitalism is the model much of the rest of the world is using, it looks like a lot more of us are going to be buying goods and services we don't need.

It seems an odd thing to do with the wealth we generate. We don't use our improved situation and growing wealth to help lift others out of poverty. We don't generate enough money to buy the things we DO need, then relax. No, we make as much money as we can, and with the 'extra' we buy stuff we don't need.

$1.2 trillion a year is a lot of money to spend on things we might live better without. And that is just the US. Global spending on luxuries is increasing with growing wealth. 

Is this the improved world that consumer capitalism promises? Where everyone experiences a questionably better life as a result of buying useless crap from each other, while destroying nature in the process?

Not for me - I am not buying anything except for what I need. Doing so has been a good way to:
  • get out of debt.
  • put a stop to clutter.
  • generate less garbage.
  • free the mind.
  • spend less in order to be able to work less.
  • join in solidarity with the majority of humans on the planet who are also living this way.
  • reduce our impact on the ecosystem.
  • push back against a broken, misguided system.
We all spend money on things we don't need. Identifying such things, then slowly eliminating them, is not only good for the planet, but is personally liberating as well.

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