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cma123's avatar

Has your environment shaped your attitude towards materialism?

Asked by cma123 (35points) July 15th, 2012

Has the environment in which you grew up in shaped, formed or developed your attitude towards materialism?
What parts of your environment have most heavily influence you?

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12 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Yes. My parents had the biggest influence. My dad always told me money gives you independence, freedom, and power. So, I don’t really think about the things I can buy as much as I think about long term goals regarding money and having enough money to quit a job if I hate my boss, retire when I want and feel secure, and also buy what I want within reasonable parameters.

I have been around a lot of very beautiful things. I worked in retail for amlong time, and more expenisve merchandise generally is better quality. So, I do appreciate material things made well. It’s not just about a name, it also has to do with higher end garments tend to fit better, last longer, and feel better. But, I have my limits, I don’t buy top designers, but I don’t buy junk either. Better to have a few quality pieces than a lot of mediocre items.

I had an exboyfriend who like expensive cars and expensive watches and he opened me up to that world. Later, my husband also has a stronger yearning for material things than I do. I think that has drawn me towards being more materialistic than I would have been otherwise, but I still care more about the money I have in the bank than an expensive car in my garage.

DigitalBlue's avatar

I think that my father’s obsession with money has driven me to dislike money and most of the things that it can buy. I have little to no desire to acquire new things, and I have zero desire to shop. Sometimes I enjoy the experience of wandering around a store with a loved one, say my husband or my mother or a sibling, and the overwhelming majority of my “shopping” trips consist of me filling up my cart with things that I find interesting, and then going around and putting everything back and then I leave, having purchased nothing.

I grew up in a nice home, in a safe, middle class neighborhood, with a big in-ground swimming pool and whatnot… but I have no interest in ever obtaining “status” like that for myself. I buy what I need, I make what I can, I reuse when it is practical and I throw things away (or donate) when they are no longer useful to me. I am interested in sentimental things, but not valuable things. Recently, a friend told me that I am the “furthest a person can get from being materialistic,” so I guess that sums it up from another person’s perspective.

Stuff does not make me happy.

digitalimpression's avatar

Growing up I saw the love of money and things tear people and organizations apart. I never wanted to be so reliant on money. Yes, it is needed for daily life. Yes, I save for emergencies. But I am pretty much a minimalist. One thing I cannot stand is having a lot of useless things lying around. Everything I own has some purpose or function.

Cruiser's avatar

I grew up in Chicago where it was mostly God fearing Anglo working class people with a roof over their heads, food on the table, one used car if that and not much else. Hot summer days meant cooling off in an open fire hydrant or sprinkler.

As a teen we moved to the suburbs on the edge of the North Shore where all the real money lived. I still wore hand-me-downs and my mom was the only one who was still stay at home. We still only had one used car and my life was a stark contrast to the rich kids I went to school and played with. I got a job as a caddy at the premier country club and got glimpse of how the uber rich lived and played. While lavish and fancy I was not all that impressed as I did not get a feel that they were any happier in their lives than I was.

Even now as I have reached a point in my life where I could buy almost anything I want….I don’t. I just don’t feel a need for the latest gadget, bigger TV, new car, fancy threads, etc. I really like my inexpensive used guitars and 30 year old amplifier…they work just fine. My flip phone is all I need to call the kids or home if needed.

For me….I think it is the manufacturers who now make essentially cheap crap and try to market it is “really good stuff” who have also helped shaped my aversion to most things material.

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thorninmud's avatar

If my wife counts as part of my environment, yes. She’s very, very frugal. Every purchase is a tortuous exercise in cost/benefit analysis. Absolutely no purchase can be justified on grounds of self-indulgence. Everything we own gets used until the last little quantum of utility has been wrung out of it.

I’m not naturally a spend-thrift anyway, but seeing how my wife holds herself to the bare necessities often makes me rein myself in more than I might otherwise. I can’t complain. We’ve never had much income, but we’ve had even less out-go, so we’ve managed to live relatively debt-free and still put our kids through college.

athenasgriffin's avatar

I’m quite spendy. I don’t see any use in having money in the bank, because to me there is only the now. Plus, there is no one to save for. I wouldn’t say that things add to my happiness, but not having things detracts from my happiness.

This probably has something to do with seeing the difference between my mom and my dad. My parents were split and my dad made much more money than my mom, but he saved most of it. He had a nicer house and a nicer car, but he was so frugal he never got any happiness from his excess money. It was just in the bank, in the stocks. And then he lost a lot of it in the stock market crash. And my mom spent all she had, and always found a way to make do. It was always enough. If she needed more, she found a way to get more. She was far happier than him in what she had, even though it was less, because she used it all.

dabbler's avatar

Growing up lower-middle class my parents got us all enough of everything we needed and a bit more – but they were routinely using credit at least a bit to do it.
When I started living on my own in college, I figured out that if I can wait a bit longer to pay upfront for something and avoid credit I was way ahead in the long run.

When I started working for big companies I got exposed to the idea of ‘cost-effective’.
A certain amount of waste is no problem if it saves some expensive employee some time.
What I ultimately learned is that this is the fallacy of the bottom line, what I call the crime of the jaskass-with-a-spreadsheet. Einstein reportedly said that this way, “Not everything that counts is countable, and not everything that’s countable counts”. Corporations that are famous for externalizing costs (getting you and me, the public, to pay for it) and for not counting human factors are the best example of this sort of materialistic thinking.

I have to admit that even though I think I’m relatively practical, in U.S. context, relative to most of the population of the planet I’m quite indulgent and materialistic.

geeky_mama's avatar

Both my upbringing and my husband have colored my attitudes towards possessions and materialism.

My husband is very good at fixing things and “making do” with older things long past the point that I’d generally just break down and spend the money to replace them..but I think it’s better that we repair and repair than just replace and buy new.

My current feelings about materialism come from a documentary I just saw. There was a moment when an elderly woman said to another elderly woman – in explaining why she didn’t want to accept the gift of a new cooking burner in lieu of gathering her own wood: “Possessions own you.”
That really stuck with me. She was content as she was and didn’t want this new fangled thing—she didn’t see the point of having this new thing when she was content with things as they already were.
That pretty much matches my feelings on materialism.

I don’t need new stuff. I’m happy with what I have..I don’t want “new” for the sake of “new”..

Ponderer983's avatar

My upbringing and my career has shaped a lot of my ideas on materialism. I grew up in an upper middle class household and never needed anything, but at the same time, my parents taught me to save. When i was under 18 with no bills of my own to pay, I still worked. And whatever I made, half was always put into savings. When I bought my first car, this was the money I used to do so. It taught me to be responsible with my money. My parents could have easily bought me my first car, but this was part of their teaching me. Then, my career is about luxury and high end items. I appreciate the handiwork and details that you don’t know about when comparing 2 items. I can’t afford everything expensive, but I will buy classic items that are timeless (handbag styles, black pencil skirt, cardigans, black pumps, etc.) so that the better quality will last me. The more trendy “now” items I won’t spend as much on just for them to be out of season in 2 – 4 years.

SuperMouse's avatar

My experience growing up was much like @Cruiser,‘s I describe it as growing up lower middle class in an upper middle class area. We never had much and I was surrounded by people who had whatever they wanted no matter the price. Probably because of my upbringing,iIn my 20’s I figured that if I was making the bills, keeping a roof over my head, and had the basics covered – everything else was gravy.

In my 30’s I fell in with a bunch of other stay at home moms who were all about their houses, cars, clothes, etc. I got very caught up in that and wanted my kids and myself to have tons of toys and great clothes. I spent way too much money. In retrospect all of that stuff was really about trying to replace something that was missing in me.

A huge life change caused a huge attitude adjustment (or was it the other way around). Now I have left behind that group of friends, that husband, and the desire to accumulate stuff. Now I am back to where I was in my 20’s, if the bills are paid and the family is together and happy, I am content. It is much less stressful.

susanc's avatar

I came from money and then there was more money and I didn’t like it; I was an artist, I was a hippie chick, I got away from that sector of society and breathed a sigh of relief. In my early 50’s I inherited money and became burdened by it but put a lot of people through college or grad school – they were all doing the hard work, I was just providing support. I’ve never seen anyone’s life be improved by much money unless they were actually down and out. I’ve seen people’s lives improved by education and improved housing and generosity, though.

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