Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Are We Entering A New Age Called Post-Materialism?

It could very well be that with higher energy prices and other costs of things skyrocketing that everyday people are finally beginning to take a good look at how they spend their money. It is even becoming trendy to be frugal and to enter the world of "simple living".

This article in the Hartford Courant caught my interest. Aside from the "going green" aspect, my thoughts on this article is just that people are yearning for a simpler life, with less "stuff". They can certainly blame their desire for frugality on a noble cause as "saving the Earth", but I think one doesn't need an excuse to be frugal.

I know lots of people who live very well on limited means. One does not have to lower their standard of living because they choose to spend less money on things. Some people I know brew their own beer, they make their own bread, they do a lot of things for themselves and the products of their hands are many time better than anything commercially made. Of course one cannot dispute or discount that in lots of instances having someone else produce an item for you is convenient and even preferable. The point is, that many people are turning to being more conservative in their spending habits and finding ways to still maintain the good things in their life.

The article said:
As the economy worsens, one group of Americans is turning to an Earth-friendly way of life as a hard-line strategy for saving....

It seems what's good for the Earth is good for the wallet.

"You don't just go out and needlessly shop as a hobby. It's really kind of an eye opener," said Julia Park Tracey, a mother of five in Alameda, Calif., who swears she isn't a "crunchy granola hippie."...

"All that was money out the window. We could not keep going like that and make ends meet," said Tracey, whose budget is being stretched thin by escalating food and gas prices....

Cutting out dry-cleaning and Starbucks alone is saving Tracey's family $250 a month. Biking and walking conserve not just oil, but piles of gas money.

Gone too are the mindless drugstore sprees where Tracey would blow $100 or more on cosmetics and snacks.
One group that has formed in California is called "the Compact", which started a few years ago in San Francisco. The group which shuns consumerism has now grown to about 9,000 members. Apparently you won't be ostracized from the group if you do own a Louis Vuitton bag, but their aim is to get people to examine their spending and economize in different ways. Some of their members vow to do away with "scented lotions, flavored lattes, iPod accessories. Now they no longer dry clean their clothes and even make their own cat food." The Compact promotes ideas such as borrowing, bartering or buying second hand on many different items that we use. They eschew people buying the latest in gadgets and upgrades especially if they aren't needed items. Making do with what one has, seems to be the message. Its a message about living a simple life in general, and that saves money in the long and short run.

This conservation movement is certainly growing and appealing to many as economic times become more challenging.

Some people say that this move to conservation can hurt business in this country.
Critics say that the U.S. economy would cave in if enough people radically pulled back on spending. But even in a downturn, the ranks of The Compact likely won't grow large enough to pose any threat to the nation's manufacturers.
I think businesses will just capitalize on this - they'd be stupid if they didn't. Just as we have seen a shift to "organically produced" foods and promotion of healthier food options, we will see businesses begin to sell conservation items or products which promote frugality, or items to help you be more frugal.

You don't have to be living like "Little House on the Prairie" - but you can economize and live quite well.

Want to start saving and joining the post-materialism and/or the conservation movement? Check out these frugal websites - some are just tips on spending less, and others offer a view into living a simpler more "organic" life:

Frugal Village dot Com

Frugal Village dot Net

Frugal Living

Finally Frugal

Organic Living

Living A Better Life

All Things Frugal

Totally Frugal - Great budgeting and finance tips

Freecycle - Reuse, recycle

Frugal Fashionista - Look like Cameron Diaz without breaking the bank. (you can probably get lots of clothing at the Salvation Army store too)

Being frugal dot net

Frugal dad

Zenhabits offers these ideas for saving money

No Impact Man - A radical Post-Consumerist Liberal - but he may have some good ideas even if he is an Al Gore devotee.

You can also visit the Festival of Frugality as they host frugal carnivals.