If there’s one thing that we’ve become over the years it’s materialistic. With occasions like Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and even Amazon Prime Day forcing us to spend our cash on anything and everything just to see our children’s or partners’ smiling faces, we can tell ourselves that it is completely worthwhile. Of course, if we spend so much money on these things, are we actually placing a priority on this stuff? Our children will have toys that, let’s face it, in a couple of years, will not be used at all. So what does it really take to be less materialistic? And is being materialistic a bad thing?
Reassess the Idea of Giving
If we think about the idea of giving gifts as a charitable cause when we look at the idea of actually giving charity gifts, we do it to benefit someone. The idea of giving gifts is not about necessarily giving things to people to benefit their lives anymore but actually giving them the things that they want.
When it comes to giving gifts we need to start thinking about what we can do to actually fulfil certain needs in their lives. This could be about giving practical gifts but it can also be about giving an experience rather than something material. In order to do this effectively we have to reevaluate why we give gifts in the first place.
Helping Our Children Step Away from the Idea of Materialism
This is a massive task and as our children grow up they start to see what other children have and they want some of that too. This means that over time we end up losing the battle of purely giving our children the things that will benefit their lives and it slowly turns into pester power. You can see it clearly on those days when children bring in toys to school and they’ve got the latest and greatest things and if you tell your child that there is no need for them to have all of these things they could see it as a form of punishment.
That whole “because so-and-so’s got x, y and z, why can’t I have that too?” mindset is very damaging but it’s also a battle that we can’t win. What we have to remember at this point is we need to play the long game. If we’re trying to teach our children the value of every single possession serving a purpose this can go a long way to helping them understand gradually that every item they have they will get more value from. It’s not about telling them they can’t have things but about making sure that everything they use ultimately serves a purpose.
What Being Materialistic Actually Means
Lots of people use stuff as a status symbol. You may have encountered plenty of other parents who think nothing of driving a Mercedes a quarter of a mile to school and then sitting in the car with the engine running while they’re on the phone just so they can show off what they’ve got. One of the biggest battles we have in our minds is thinking that they’ve clearly got a lot of money to burn so why don’t we? But we’ve got to remember that people who are materialistic can display some of the following characteristics:
- Possessions are more important than relationships. People who crave that materialistic wealth can lose out because they are using this as a distraction tactic and are potentially neglecting other people in their lives whether it’s friends or family.
- They think having stuff gives them bragging rights. We all know someone that brags about having certain things and those people who think it’s important to show off clearly have a few things missing in their lives. We also tend to find this transfers to the child and when a child is able to get something that others want it can be a very slippery slope into unrealistic expectations. Those people who have bragging rights feel that they may need to maintain a certain lifestyle which inevitably means credit card debt!
- They have stuff they do not need. People who are materialistic tend to make impulse purchases because the thing they’ve got has not satisfied their needs. It’s easier than ever to think that we need more because we’ve bought something that has been touted as the magic bullet whether it’s a bit of exercise equipment or the latest hair care product. The big problem is that we’re constantly encouraged to buy new things resulting in a cluttered home and a lot of wasted money.
What Can We All Do to Be Less Materialistic?
In order to answer this question we have to remember that materialism is not just about how we feel, it’s about pressures in life. Many people feel they have to keep up with the Joneses and this means having to spend more money on things that are not useful. But there are a few simple ways that we can all become less materialistic including:
- Prioritise experiences over things, which can be invaluable if you are trying to teach your children the value of living over stuff.
- Limit social media consumption so you don’t feel the temptation to keep getting more things.
- Replacing the desire for stuff with healthy hobbies, so if you wanted to spend money on something consider investing in a fitness class rather than a new toy.
- Changing your focus on the needs of others, which can help everybody to be more caring and helpful and this sets a great example for our children.
Material goods are only for the material world, and we can’t take it with us when we go so is it actually that important? We all need certain things in life and it’s nice to have nice things but it’s when we fill our lives with so much stuff that it doesn’t serve any purpose. It’s important for us to stop being so materialistic not just for the sake of our finances and our mental health, but also for the sake of our children.