We want to have more money and more things that money can buy. We cannot put a limit to what we really want. We stress ourselves, overwork, waste a lot of things and go into debt to buy and consume things just because somebody else has it. We are addicted to such behaviour and we cannot stop even if we feel bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled. If this describes you, then you have affluenza.
When we suffer from affluenza, we:
- Work more and go into more debt to buy bigger homes than we really need.
- Work at jobs we don’t like to get paid more to buy more.
- Buy a lot of things that we never use and just store them.
- Spend less time playing with our children and talking to our spouse and spend more time watching TV.
- Get easily influenced by advertising.
- Spend money without considering whether it is of value.
- Feel unhappy and unfulfilled despite having more money and material luxuries.
OK, we have the affluenza disease. So, what is the treatment? Well, it is obviously not to do the above things. To start off, you can use these guideposts:
1. Before you buy, ask yourself:( You can use this checklist as well)
- Do I need it?
- Do I want to dust (dry-clean or otherwise maintain) it?
- Could I borrow it from a friend, neighbor or family member?
- Is there anything I already own that I could substitute for it?
- Are the resources that went into it renewable, or non-renewable?
- How many hours will I have to work to pay for it? (Note: Before you do this, you may find it useful to figure your real hourly wage. Take your annual net income and subtract your work-related costs like clothing, transportation, child care, parking and lunches out.
2. Avoid the shopping mall. Go for walks or play with your kids or do something which does not need money.
3. Figure out what public transportation can save you (time, money for fuel and parking, peace of mind).
4. Become an advertising critic. Don’t be sucked in by efforts to make you feel inadequate so you’ll buy more stuff you don’t need.
5. Volunteer for a school or community group.
6. Splurge consciously. A few luxuries can be delightful, and they don’t have to be expensive.
7. Stay in — have a potluck, play a game, bake bread, write a letter, cuddle a loved one.
8. Make a budget — know how much you are earning and spending. Each dollar represents precious time in your life that you worked. Are you spending money in ways that fulfill you?
9. Pretend the Joneses are the thriftiest, least wasteful people on the block. Then try to keep up with them.
If you really want to be free from affluenza and lead a really productive and fulfilled life, you can do two things:
I. Do the crash course of treatment of Affluenza. This consists of following 9 giant steps-
- Get the book, Your Money or Your Life. Read it, and you have made the best possible start on your way to a simpler, more satisfying life.
- Make this old New England proverb your motto: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” As a wartime slogan, it helped Americans win World War II.
- Try consuming or using half as much of as many things as you can. Start with shampoo, detergent and toothpaste, then get creative and see how many others you can come up with. Half as much is sometimes twice as good (eating, for example), and always twice as thrifty.
- Things you never need to buy again: freezer bags (use the plastic bags inside cereal boxes), things you can get for free or free alternatives, such as matches, paper towels, calendars, note paper, drawing paper for the kids, padded envelopes, bottled water…think of others, and put them on your list of “never-buy-agains.”
- Sell your TV and use the time you free up (49 hours a week for the average American!) for frugal endeavors.
- Move somewhere with a lower cost of living. The highest and lowest-cost areas vary by 95%, but salaries for most jobs rarely fluctuate more than 25%.
- Barter for goods and services. See if there is an organized system for this in your area.
- Complete all nine steps from Your Money or Your Life. Do them all, in order, and you will almost certainly be guaranteed success in adopting a simpler—and more fulfilling–lifestyle.
- Share your resources and results with people you care about, and multiply the good effects on the planet that will come from your new way of living.
II. Read this booklet: Tips to beat affluenza.
-adapted from here.