In advertisements, on TV, at the supermarket. All over town, shiny new products are sitting on shelves, calling out your name, inundating you with a desire to buy.
What do we call this? In a word (or two): “consumer culture.”
Not only does buying something tickle the fancy of our desires, it tickles the receptors of our brains. When we buy something that we like, and go through the act of purchasing, we’re affected in more ways than one.
Similar to smoking, imbibing alcohol, and exercising, we respond physically and mentally to the rush of ownership, possession, or experience. The effect of consumer culture is felt equally by the person who realizes they’re getting into debt thanks to overspending, the person who gets a mortgage they can’t afford, and even the person who can’t get a loan because their credit score isn’t good enough.
But how to avoid it? The easy answer would be: “don’t shop.”
However, that answer leaves a lot to be desired because while it’s pithy it’s also largely unreasonable. Being that we can count on interacting with purchasing messages on a regular basis, it’s not a feasible solution. Unless you’re willing to live off the grid, you’ll be faced with consumer culture, or the result of it, every day of your life.
Even living on the outskirts of town won’t necessarily guarantee a non-consumer lifestyle. The act of buying, trading and consuming goods is ever-present in modern society. If you try to run away from it, you’ll only be followed by ads for new running shoes.
Instead of outrunning it, we have to outsmart it. We have to learn how to live within consumer culture and how to adapt to it. With that in mind, here is our guide to outsmarting consumer culture in order to save money and build wealth: