Living In The Material World

I have had more than a tolerable number of people question (or outright chastise) my lack of materialism.

A former girlfriend constantly badgered me to buy a new car. Now the car WAS old, but it was comfortable, in good running condition and perfectly safe. It was like a broken record (for you young folks, that's how we listened to music before the existence of CDs, ipods & itunes). "You have a job. You can afford it. Why don't you buy a new car?" I believe she was less concerned with me having a nice car to enjoy as she was being seen in an old car. Note that she is a FORMER girlfriend.

Similarly, I once had a blind date. We met at the restaurant and had dinner. We walked to the parking lot and I leaned against my vehicle. She asked incredulously "Is THAT your car?" When I replied "Yes", the look on her face was one of great disappointment. Now I'm used to disappointed looks from women, but this was different. Needless to say, there was no second date.

I have likewise been questioned about my dwelling. "You're a professional person. Why don't you buy a home next to The Snootingtons?" My home may be modest, but is clean, comfortable, close to work and fulfills my basic housing needs. Why should I buy a home I don't need (let alone can't afford) just to be hoity-toity?

There are other examples, but these will suffice for now.

So, to all my so-called "friends" out there, I have this to say. While I appreciate your "concern", there is no need to worry. All my basic needs are covered. I am not depriving myself of anything important. 

Since one of my EP friends "loves" my quotes so much, let me close with this one:

"It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly." --Thoreau
sciguy18 sciguy18
56-60, M
25 Responses Jul 19, 2011

Mate you got to do what you want for yourself. If she is not happy she can look elsewhere.

If what you have works well, it does not matter what others say or how they feel. You deserve a person who likes you for who you are. :)

I have a friend named Chandler and he doesn't care at all by people's appearances at all. He just is content with his pizza job. He doesn't have his drivers licence and doesn't own a car. He rents a room in a house and he actually is content with his life. He doesn't want to live beyond his means and he enjoys not owning much. He walks everywhere and he hangs out with his friends on his days off.

I told my family about him and they said "He's not going to feel fulfilled with his low paying job, no car and living with roommates" and I said "he doesn't have any incentive to do anything else since I met him. He is just not one to be phased by a high paying job and he is not materialistic." My family just shrugged it off but seriously, he's one of those people who would rather spend time with friends and that is where he would spend his money... "He would rather spend his time with his friends" and they said his friends are "going on to bigger better things and he's going to be the old person in the pizzeria" and I thought to myself that his friends aren't that materialistic and they would rather spend their time around people and not materials...

I like the attitude of your friend. Better to be a poor, happy person than a rich, unhappy one.

Yep. I would rather just float my boat and not lose all my income on taxes either.. Enjoy what I do and hang out with friends on days off... Keep life interesting! Hate to be in a rut.

Me too but sometimes it's a struggle to make ends meet.

But you are still down to earth and connected. If you are rich you tend to get apathetic and attitudes change...

Very true!

2 More Responses

What was this car? And so after a blind date tiny asked if I had a passport and if I'd be willing to go with him to St. Kitts and forvthat we spent a weekend in the Caribbean :-) we lost touch for 10 years I only recently got together with him on Twitter he stumbled on my Twitter account he now lives in Oxford MS married I told him the one thing that drive a wedge between us was how smug his attitude was it was annoying listening to him say I'm an American I can do anything I want that totally turned me off.

So great to know there are real people with reasonable values in the world. mini

Thanks for the comment.

I like this story as it resonates a chord. Have you read the book "The Millionaire Next Door" (by Thomas J. Stanley Ph.D. and William D. Danko Ph.D. ) about how Real millionaires live? Frugal is the keyword they live by. I'll list here the Seven Factors that underlie their lifestyles (from the books' introduction):

1) They live well below their means
2) They allocate their time, energy, and money efficiently, in ways conducive to building wealth.
3) They believe that financial independence is more important than displaying high social status.
4) Their parent did not provide economic outpatient care.
5) Their adult children are economically self-sufficient.
6) The are proficient in targeting market opportunities.
7) They choose the right occupation.

"Why don't you buy a home next to the Snootingtons?".......that made me chuckle!
Unfortunately we are living in a 'materialistic' world so it is refreshing to read your story and note that there are some of us out there that have not succumbed to the pressure of 'keeping up with the Joneses'
Really great post!

I like that quote by thoreau

I definitely don't try to keep up. People at work are always in awe of their accomplished possessions. I am satisfied with being comfortable. Even my extensive shoe collection is not without a compromise of sorts. It's my heart that I want people to see. But if they don't, then they can pass through my life without so much as a second glance.

I work at a full service gas station and let me tell you this, the people who drive $80k cars dont kno half the time and the people in the old jelopey seem to understand the finer things in life

\"the people who drive $80k cars dont kno half the time\". I work at an automotive dealership as a salesman and can vouch for this observation. We had a customer in the other day that makes over $120,000 a year but was in so much debt we could not sell them the car.

On the other hand we had another customer that day that made only about $43,000 a year but had had a very high credit rating.

Guess who management sold a car to that day? Yep, the second one with excellent credit and barely spends money on anything.

I do believe that less is more, in this case you make the most of what you have - which is a good thing.

I'm much like you. Hubs is the one who wants to buy new stuff constantly and I say, don't replace things that still work. Sometimes he hears what I'm saying. Our car is 14 years old. ;-)

I am always intrigued by the importance people place upon things such as cars- safety is important, as are the emissions (OK, I do want to not add to the problem of pollution any more that is nec.) but beyond that, it is a disposable mechanical thing used to do a job. How people respond to older cars says a lot more to me about that person than the car does about the owner. (But to be fair, I own a very old car, live in a neighborhood with nice cars, and my neighbors think I am "quirky" but tolerate my car with good humor....)

That's time well spent. Conspicuous consumption is a communicable disease and spreads at the speed of greed. Sounds like you're debt-free (or near enough) and I'm guessing the fruits of your labor flow into interest-bearing accounts. No need to feel the urge to explain yourself to others.

I really like this story. Frankly, I like all of your stories.


Sounds very sensible to me. A car loses a third of its new value as soon as it crosses out of the sale yard. So do white goods. <br />
Yet the working life of second hand gives long term value if well selected.<br />
So how is this not just a different form of materialism? <br />
probably much more functional for both you and the planet.<br />
But, is your car a petrol guzzler that's costing a lot in maintenance and petrol? and would you go second hand solar electric for the sake of the environment, when the chance arises?<br />
<br />
Maybe too, you are being judged by females looking to lay eggs in a nest, trying to judge the future chances of security, but not seeing or thinking clearly. <br />
If so, you're doing it just right to attract the female who'll be a good match for your values.<br />
The first words I heard my hubby say were "I'm looking for a place with a garden and a bath, where I can play my flute at 3am without disturbing anyone." <br />
I instantly loved his values, and it still lasts after 21 years.

Sounds like you are both lucky to have found each other. I am still waiting... As an FYI, I did eventually have to replace my car 5 years ago. I did actually buy a new vehicle (a hybrid). I plan to keep it until it either becomes unsafe or unreliable.

I love your story and your attitude. With the basic necessities of life you are covered, satisfied. I'm sure you have much more peace of mind than most folks have. The Snootingtons.. hahahahahaaaa i would not want to live next to them either much less keep up with them. I have a small house on a quiet street and it is my pure joy to be able to hear silence as i sit on my porch and enjoy the wonderful scene nature portrays all day in my yard and surrounding fields. That is part of my simple joys in life. It shows the true character of those with whom you associated very briefly and your character for associating with them briefly .. hahahaa :) Good for you. Don't change a hair! :)

I don't dare change a hair. If I did, there would be none left...

Well said. I hate throwing things away, so what if it's no longer in "fashion". I'm especially like that with mobile phones.

You're going to be in for a shock when you need to replace your phone. They are going to tell you that you "need" all sorts of things (e.g., smartphone, camera, email, internet, etc.).

The ironic thing is I have only just replaced my phone (only because my other one completely died). I spent all of 3 sec's choosing it. Although it would be cool if a phone had more "useful" gadgets on it, like cooking me meals, doing my ironing etc.

I just love your way of life!

I know it's not for everbody, but it suits me fine.

There is a fine line between materialism and austerity and the line is practicality, simplicity and possession of the things that are reasonably justified.

I agree too. I am very lucky, my husband and I share the same values and neither one of us is materialistic. We buy what we need to make our lives easier or more comfortable, but we draw the line at newer and flashier gimmicks just for their own sake, or for the sake of showing off. In the supermarket, the first place I head for is the discount produce table in the back. I see what they've got, and plan my menus around the bargain items. Last time I went to buy a new cell phone, the salesman tried to convince me I needed an expensive "smart phone" of some sort, that would do a gazillion tricks. I just wanted a PHONE. To make and receive phone calls with. I had to fight with him to get what I wanted, and nothing more. That was last year. I went into the store last week to replace my charger, which was damaged, and again, I had to fight off salesmen who wanted me to replace my "old, worn out, obsolete" phone. (It's only a YEAR old and it works perfectly.) I was raised to be thrifty, and so was my husband. I pride myself on being able to save money on most of life's needs. I never brag about how MUCH I spent on something, but I am always bragging about how LITTLE I spent on things. I do not buy things I don't need though, just because they are on sale. We have to buy expensive shoes when we need shoes, because we have foot problems and cannot wear just any old shoe from Walmart, but we make an effort to get the best price we can on the ones we do need to buy, and we only buy as many as we need. I have seven pairs, and that includes boots, sandals, dress shoes, sneakers and Earth shoes. I really cannot understand the whole mindless excessive consumerism that is so rampant in our society. In fact, I find it somewhat disgusting.

You are lucky you found someone who shares your values. Not everyone is so fortunate.

I wholeheartedly agree. Thanks for sharing this.

My hat is off to you and your values. I understand what you are saying and believe me, those people want you associated with finer, more expensive "things", not for you but for them. Imagine if they were caught associating with someone who drives an "old" car and lives in "that part of town". As was noted, they are shallow people and not worth your time. It's easy to see where their values lie, not in friendship, obviously. My husband and I are the same. If we can't afford to pay for it outright, well we don't need it, do we? Perhaps it would benefit our Government to take some lessons from people like yourself and the other commenter's here.

Thanks. Aside from my house, I don't think there's anything I've purchased that I couldn't pay for outright. I made sure my housing payments would be within reason too. What's the point of having things you can't afford (and don't need) if you can't sleep at night?

I think I know why people are obsesses with status symbols... This is America. It's how we were raised and, not everyone has depth enough to have a mind of their own. I'm glad you are smart enough to know better. Friends who judge you ba<x>sed on what you have, don't know or care enough about who you are. We're all better off without people like that. Sometimes they have the capacity to be led to understand differently but, we can't win them all. Don't worry, as America continues to spiral down due to the trend of materialism, those will be the first to go.

I think some of my "friends" are actually concerned that I am depriving myself of things. Most, however, just can't understand how I could possibly go around without all the latest stuff.

God bless Thoreau and Buchwald for those quotes! i agree with you and I actually learned this later in life. I grew up with a family that valued possessions more than anything so I had no other way to live. Sometimes you are taught the wrong stuff. When my life changed, I began to realize exactly what my value consisted of and it was not attached to my collection of high heels or my convertible. I am happy to be able to pass this on to my child. <br />
<br />
If you have read Man’s Search for Meaning: " the absence of meaning, people fill the resultant void with hedonistic pleasures, power, materialism, hatred, boredom, or neurotic obsessions and compulsions (Frankl 1992, p. 143)

Thanks for the reference. I have not read it, but I will try to find it.

true enough!