When Novelty is the New Normal

I’ve noticed a peculiar trend in recent years.  Despite having an already-incredible and increasing standard of living, my fellow Aussies seem to be growing less content with each year that passes.

This discontent creates desires which seemingly need to met.  And in meeting those desires, then our lives will be better and at last the void will be filled.

There’s a few reasons for this, and it represents both a conundrum and an opportunity!  So let’s go through it together and I’ll explain how this can help you become financially independent faster.

 

Consumerism: The Religion

Many decades ago now, a new religion was born.  It was called Consumerism.  And it’s fundamental premise, more stuff = better life, and a better life = happiness.

But it’s not quite as simple as that, and there’s a hole in the strategy.  Effectively it looks a bit like this…

Consumerism: The ‘Underpants Gnome’ Strategy for Happiness.  Credit: Imgflip.com and South Park.

Not to worry, because this philosophy was gobbled up like big ol’ bag of choc-chip cookies.  This tasted great at first.  But ultimately, people got hooked on these cookies and the sugar-high of ‘more stuff’.

So much so, that we’ve run out of room in our homes to store the growing pile of possessions, and a growing industry of self-storage facilities has blossomed.  And it’s not because our homes are smaller than before.  In fact, the average home is bigger than ever!

So our homes are larger, and there are less people per house, but we still can’t fit all our stuff inside them.  Wow!

But things have started to change in recent times.  We’ve started to realise that this particular bag of happiness cookies actually doesn’t satisfy us.  Many people have started to realise it’s actually bad for us, and our mental health.  Minimalism has grown in popularity and the benefits are many.

 

Consumerism 2.0

So the desire for more stuff has already been met many times over.  And at the same time, wealth and incomes continue to grow, so we now have more disposable cash than ever before.

This creates a dilemma.  How do you get people to part with their cash who are already overflowing with stuff?

Convince them they need better stuff.  Higher quality.  More luxury.  A richer experience.

They’ve even created terms for it.  Mass-tige.  Prestige for the masses.  Genius, right?  I think so.

And it’s working!  We’ve swapped the pursuit of more, for the pursuit of better.

From home developers, fashion designers to product creators, all are pushing higher cost products to the masses.  The thing is, the implied payoff is basically the same.  Status, popularity, luxury, envy, and the appearance that you’re totally winning at life!

Not because we need it, of course.  At this point, we don’t need a damn thing.  It’s just another bag of sugar-loaded cookies in a new flavour.  But these are even more addictive than the last.

That’s because unlike the ‘more stuff’ cookies the first time round, the ‘better stuff’ cookies are a bottomless packet.  There is a limit to how much we can own.  But there is no limit to better.

So we just keep munching away, thinking we’re getting somewhere, while the cookies are continually replenished as fast as we can eat them.  So we munch faster, trying to take it all in.  Better technology, better holidays, better cars, betters clothes, and better restaurants.

We’ve become addicted to better.  We’ve become addicted to novelty.  Addicted to new for the sake of new.

This sugar-high gives us a feeling of wealth in the short term, but ultimately leaves us not much better than broke over the long term.

 

So what does this mean?

Essentially, in the last few decades we traded our growing incomes for more stuff.  And in the current and coming decades we’ll be trading even more surplus cash, not for more stuff, but for better products and services.

And in terms of personal finance, this opens up a huge chasm, between those who get sucked into it, and those who don’t.  Between those who follow the crowd, and those who think for themselves.

Why?  Because with each decade that passes, we require a smaller percentage of our wages to cover basic living expenses, as I looked at in this post.  By the way, owning a $1m home is not a basic living cost 😉

Yes there are exceptions, but overall that’s true.  That’s the whole reason it’s even possible to save over 50% of your income in the first place.  That’s why Financial Independence is actually a thing.

 

Level-up your money management

If you’re not already, start playing this personal finance game and create the best, healthiest lifestyle you can for the lowest cost.  The goal is to maximise your enjoyment while also maximising your savings rate.

The two are not totally incompatible!  If you think they are, then you may have been drinking the marketing kool-aid.

Anyway, as wealth and incomes grow, this consumer spending trend is likely to continue well into the future.  And it’ll pay to be on the right side of this trend.  Here’s what I mean…

Those who understand this dance and make conscious choices about where their money goes (readers of this blog!) will be handsomely rewarded.  With a higher savings rate, lower stress, higher levels of contentment and the ability to retire many decades earlier than their peers.

Those who don’t get it will simply repeat the work/spend treadmill of past generations and wonder why they aren’t getting anywhere.  As the gap widens between those who get it and those who don’t, I think becoming financially independent will actually become easier as time goes on!

The following post has some eye-opening forecasts which reinforce this point:  Why the Cost of Living is Poised to Plummet in the Next 20 Years.

 

Decisions, decisions

Now onto some examples of exactly what I’m talking about.  Where the pursuit of new and better for the sake of it has real implications beyond simply a monthly repayment.

House renovations

A kitchen and bathroom upgrade is not all that uncommon, to give your house a ‘new’ vibe.  The cost can easily be $30,000 or more.  And that’s often added onto the mortgage rather than paid for with cash, but we’ll ignore interest for simplicity.

—  Cost.  After ten years, with a 7% return this would turn into around $60,000.  And of course, after ten years, the house is looking quite tired again and the novelty has long worn off.  So further property upgrades are on the cards at this point.  Yes, I know every house needs to be maintained.  But every house does not need to be constantly updated.

 

Moving

A simpler option than renovating is to simply move house.  This satisfies the urges of newness, excitement and the possibility of ‘better’.  Moving costs on a $500,000 property average around $30,000 in most cities from stamp duty and selling fees alone.  Let’s say a restless couple moves every 5 years, rather than a more reasonable 10 years.

—  Cost.  Every ten years this couple burns through an extra $30,000 plus interest on a higher mortgage balance.  Again the same amount of money would compound to $60,000 after a decade.

It might seem silly to include this when I’ve sort of covered house novelty with renovations.  But we know people who have both moved house regularly, in combination with the home customisations above, burning money in both ways because they never seem satisfied.

 

Vehicles

Is it any surprise that people are supposedly struggling when every second car on the road is a brand-new SUV?  By the way, I figured out what SUV stands for:  Simply Unnecessary Vehicle.

Anyway for some reason, many folks seem to have this urge to upgrade their car every 3 years.  What’s going on here?  I think it’s boredom.  I think it offers something to get excited about, among the soul-sucking monotony of the rat race.

If we have to drive to work everyday, we might as well enjoy it, right?  Well, I can see the thought process here.  But this is exactly the kind of thinking that keeps people broke and forced to give up most of their waking ours to that job in the first place!

—  Cost.  Assuming an attractive vehicle is purchased, the cost could be $30,000 or more.  It is then sold after 3-and-a-bit years for $20,000.  This cycle repeats 3 times over a ten year period.  Whereas a frugal person may spend around $10,000 on one car and keep it for ten years, investing the surplus cash.

This makes a difference of $20,000 up front, plus an extra $10,000 each for two upgrades.  Again the desire for better has cost around $60,000 over ten years.  You can double this for a two-car household, of which there are many in Australia!  I covered cars in this post on Frugal Car Ownership.

 

Technology

Tech options are limitless these days, but for this post we’ll just look at phones and TVs.  Both categories have a never-ending stream of upgrades available with every year that passes.  And for some, the call is too strong to ignore.

We’ll assume a content couple goes through 2 phones each and 1 TV over ten years.  In contrast, our insatiable couple upgrades their smartphones to the newest model every two years, and their TV every 3 years.

—  Cost.  The upgraders will acquire an extra 8 phones and 2 TVs in a ten year period.  With the best new phones costing around $1,500 this equates to $12,000.  Why would you get less than the best available?  And 2 high quality TVs might set them back another $5,000.

Now this seems a little strange since people rarely fork over $1,500 to buy a phone outright.  Instead they’re locked into a ridiculously overpriced plan, so I actually think this is being generous.  All up, with modest returns on this money, our tech-lovers are likely behind by around $25,000. 

 

Fashion

Buying newer, better things to decorate ourselves with is another popular avenue of spending.  Clothes, shoes, bags, sunglasses, watches and other accessories.  Clothing and fashion is built on novelty, and new for the sake of it.

Quite easily, a couple would chew through an extra couple of thousand dollars each year, over an above what a more needs-based spending household would.

Cost.  $2,000 per year invested across a ten year period amounts to another $25,000. 

 

Restaurants/Cafes

Everyone enjoys eating out, myself included.  A burger here, a restaurant meal there.  The difference is when you normalise this behaviour and it becomes just another part of your routine.

Oftentimes, the novelty wears off and the level of enjoyment diminishes rapidly, yet the habit remains.  The novelty is then juiced up again by visiting different cafes or a new restaurant, and the cycle continues.

My own threshold for this is when it becomes a couple of times per week, rather than a couple of times per month.  In my view, that’s the maximum novelty you’re going to extract without the cost blowing out.

Cost.  Assuming a meal out for a couple is $50.  Twice a month would cost $100.  Twice a week would cost $400 per month.  The difference here is a cost of $300 per month.

$300 per month with a 7% return compounds to about $50,000 over ten years.

 

So what?

At this stage you’re probably thinking that none of these ideas are new.  And you’re right, they’re not.

But by presenting it to you in this way, with short-term thinking and child-like impulsiveness on one side, and self-assured, long-term thinking and powerful wealth-building on the other side, you can better choose which road is a better fit for the life you’re trying to create.

The examples above amount to more than $200,000 over a ten year period.  But the big picture is what’s important.

This is a massive opportunity.  Because if so much common spending these days is optional as I’m suggesting, then we have the power to opt-out, and instead use that cash wisely to create a financially strong future for ourselves.

The crazy part is, I’ve measured differences over a decade.  With ongoing investment returns, the sums would probably double every decade after that, which is insane.  These are all made-up numbers, but the principle is exactly the same…

Don’t spend money on crap you don’t need.  And what you actually need is far less than what you think you need.

And these are just a few basic ideas to get started.  In reality, the list is endless.

More important than the numbers, are the additional years of freedom you attain by understanding this stuff and becoming financially independent faster.

I’m not saying don’t have a nice place to live.  And I’m not saying don’t buy technology, or clothes, or eat out.  What I’m saying is, you can comfortably dial that shit down a bit, still live a great life and end up in a drastically better financial position.

 

A starting realisation

I’ve noticed a few things over the years, and some of you may share this experience too.  Apparently if you use something for longer than a year, something incredible happens…

It actually keeps working!

Clothes don’t disintegrate.  The car doesn’t burst into flames.  Kitchen cupboards don’t fall off.  The phone still swipes and texts.  Those shoes still cover your feet.  And you definitely won’t suffer from a good supply of home-cooked food.

Instead, you run the risk of becoming wealthy enough so that work is optional.  And independent enough as to not require the approval of others to be content with your own life.

 

A crazy idea

Try an experiment with me.

For every single item you currently own, make a decision right now that you’ll only replace it when that one no longer works.  And I don’t mean when it’s not as good anymore and has seen better days.  I mean when it’s no longer physically possible to use it.

You’ll be amazed how long you can go without needing anything, by simply using what you have until it becomes unusable.

Without really doing anything, you’ll come to realise that things don’t need to be constantly upgraded.  That it’s just a behaviour we’ve formed, from stories we’re told (marketing) and then never question.  And that you won’t be left behind living some Flintstone-like existence while everyone else is living it up.  This is yet more marketing at work, preying on our fears and insecurities around fitting in and being liked.

 

Thinking for yourself

Soon, marketing will no longer be a set of instructions and messages permeating your subconscious.  You’ll see it for the bubbling-over cauldron of bullshit that is really is.  And then you’ll probably find it amusing more than anything.

You’re now an independent thinker, as part of the FI community.  Our job is to cut through the hyped-up stream of junk being marketed at us from every direction.

We must sit back and think critically about purchases, whether we really need something and how quickly that sugar-high is likely to wear off.  Or whether it’s going to make us any happier over the long term.

Your new role is to get excited about being a selective spender.  Because this is the major factor in helping you create the freedom and Financial Independence that you’re after.

Besides, being content with what we have makes our lives happier right now.  Rather than endlessly chasing fancier better versions of the same thing.  It allows us to slow down and be more grateful.  It lowers our stress levels and frees us from the urge to compete and keep up with the novelty chasers.

 

Final thoughts

Many people right now seem addicted to novelty.  To chasing newer, better, bigger, fancier versions of what they already have.  This becomes a self-reinforcing loop to nowhere, creating more anxiety, less contentment and emptiness.  Not to mention consuming most of their energy and income!

Financial strength and freedom is built on the opposite side of the scale.  In contentment.  In simplicity.  And in the long list of things we don’t need.  This allows us to effortlessly save and invest a large amount of our wages, until finally ‘work’ becomes another thing on that list that we don’t need.

Our savings are often built on the purchases we haven’t made.  So I want you to celebrate your wins with the community in the comments below.  Tell me what you’re most proud of not purchasing.  An item you’ve delayed buying or an upgrade you’ve realised you don’t need.

I’ll start us off.  I’m proud to have not yet upgraded our old car.  It’s a 20 year old Commodore with dents, peeling paint and hail damage!  Now it’s over to you…. 🙂

 

43 comments

  1. Great post as usual. I’d like to add to the car story. 18 months ago I packed up the family (wife and then 8yr old) and headed around oz. I did it in an old (2000 model) nissan pathfinder with 245000 kms on the clock before we headed off. People told me I was crazy. Well we did all the sights through central oz, the Kimberly and onto WA via the Gibb River Road , all of the Wa coast…ALL of it then back to Sydney via the Ayre Peninsula to Broken Hill to Sydney. Point is we didn’t need a $75K landcruiser to have an absolute trip of a life time. That said….. sigh…..
    Now…with near on 300000kms on the clock, a few oil leaks more squeaks and rattles than you can poke a stick at…time for the old girl is coming to an end. Last time I had work done on it I wsd told not to bring it back if it breaks again. Ah well…time to start scouring the second hand market for a lovely person that has worn the depreciation on 4 – 5 year old car. Should save a packet and get many years of good motoring.

    1. Thanks for the story Ian, sounds like a great trip!

      Old cars are fine until they’re not lol, they sadly don’t last forever.

  2. I too drive a 20 year old car that I’ve owned for 18 years, a frugal 4 cylinder, but paint & body in good condition with only ‘public car park’ scratches. Always have it serviced regularly. My phones only get replaced when they stop working, even then this one only cost $350 but has latest android ‘stuff’ & collegue was surprised that it seemed as good/fast as their latest $1,200 big name ‘must have’, suck eggs to that I say !

  3. Great article there Dave – delayed gratification is a dying concept these days. BUT we must be strong in the face of the rubbish media and the marketing BS that comes our way.
    Keeping up with the Joneses is a bad idea but people think “YOLO” and all that BS these days.
    They’ll look back when they are 70, eating leftovers everyday, and regret their crazy spending. I’m sorry if this sounds harsh but it’s true – a little sacrifice now can make a world of difference (as your blog had shown).
    My best mate’s missus would rather spend $4k on a fkn handbag than do anything else. I’d rather put that into a low-cost index fund myself!

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    Thanks again Dave!

    Regards,
    Brett

    1. Cheers Brett! Delayed gratification is falling more out of favour by the week, especially with things like Afterpay taking off in popularity. But in my view there’s no replacement for sensible money management and limiting desires for those who want to have freedom in their life.

  4. by driving a 20 year old car you are actually endangering your life. old cars are death-traps, lacking the safety features of modern cars. hence in some countries it is actually illegal to drive a car older than 10 or 15 years old, or there are rigorous safety inspections that must be passed each year at owner’s expense.
    also, I fail to see the point of having lots of money but having to drive a crappy car, live in a rundown house and put up with crappy outdated slow technology.
    fair enough if you cannot afford the cost, but I need to live better than that.
    why have the money otherwise ?
    better to avoid wasting money on too many plane trips and expensive overseas holidays.

    1. Good point about safety but not necessarily.
      My 20 year old BMW has 6 airbags, traction control, abs and has better breaking power than most new cars. There is one way to keep safe on the road and that is to stay alert and concentrate on the road and eliminate distractions. No new car technology can save you if you are constantly checking your phone or radio for example.

      1. Yes. I bought a used 2005 Volvo XC70 for $10k a few years ago. Was always fully dealer serviced and in near new condition. Not only safe, but one of the most reliable, functional and comfortable cars I’ve ever owned. Equally at home doing a Bunnings run, or settling into cruise mode on an interstate trip.

    2. It’s true, the motor vehicle-related fatality rate per 100,000 people is down from 10 to 5 in the past 15 years (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_Australia_by_year). Part of that is population growth, but the other part is a decline in the actual number of road fatalities. I drove a 1988 Nissan Skyline till my first son was born (2013), but you better believe I upgraded when I had to drive him around as well!

      The good thing about crappy technology is it discourages use. My phone has Snake as its only game and I can’t bear the thought of playing that again. My missus has Angry Birds and Candy Crush and all kinds of crazy crap on hers and she can’t put the bloody thing down.

      I can’t figure out the optimum living situation (rent vs buy, crappy house / cool holidays vs expensive house / no holidays) but all I know is no matter what I’ve been doing at the time I’ve always had a nagging feeling that I’m doing it wrong.

      1. Thanks for the comment Chris. There would be far more risk attributed to actually driving a car and how much you drive versus worrying about which car is the safest. That’s where more energy should be focused if one is looking to maximise safety – trying to minimise driving. The fears by some make no sense to me.

        I think it’s human nature to think there’s always a better way to do things. There probably is no ‘optimal’ anything. We just make decisions and adjust as we go depending on the results we get, how much we enjoy that choice and whether our lives feel like they are heading in a worthwhile direction. That’s my ever-evolving and still sub-optimal view lol.

        1. I agree it’s human nature… there’s that quote that says something like: “all of man’s problems stem from their inability to sit quietly in a room alone”. Over-thinking anything has a lot to answer for!

    3. Interesting post considering the audience here. We all make choices and if yours is to buy a new car because you want it, that’s fine, its your choice. To say all older cars are death traps though, is simply not true.
      There does NOT have to be a correlation between age and maintenance. You can buy a new car, do 20K a year, not replace the tyres, and put that “New” vehicle into a tree at the ripe old age of 3 on a slippery road due to lack of maintenance.

      I would suggest that the amount of lives lost on the road directly attributable to the AGE (not level of repair / maintenance) of a car is statistically insignificant when compared to all other reasons, such as not driving to the conditions, not driving within ones own capabilities, fatigue , speed, alcohol, drugs, etc , etc,

      Now I’m not disputing that newer cars are more safer than older ones, but making a blanket statement suggesting 20 year old cars are death traps and using that to justify your decision simply doesn’t wash.

      Enjoy your car 🙂

      1. You’re confusing safety features and maintenance. They are generally exclusive concepts these days. Of course maintenance is important but do some research on survivability in modern vehicles versus old vehicles. Lots of studies show fatalities are up to 4 times more likely in older vehicles than newer ones

    4. What good is money if you don’t spend it on yourself? Really?
      Financial Independence is obviously incredibly valuable for most people reading this blog for a start. Saving and productive investment is a good thing for its own sake. Maybe someone has a desire to help their elderly parents, or help their children in some way. Maybe it can be directed to causes and charities that one feels strongly about. Plenty of healthy and satisfying things to do with money besides spending it on ourselves.

      By the way I’m not arguing that we have nothing, simply that we spend money more rationally, as I wrote in the post… “I’m not saying don’t have a nice place to live. And I’m not saying don’t buy technology, or clothes, or eat out. What I’m saying is, you can comfortably dial that shit down a bit, still live a great life and end up in a drastically better financial position.”

    5. Like CC I would make comment on the difference in this day and age in how long a car is retained. I too in times gone by would hold a car on average 13-15 years. Over time that has decreased to 7 years. When I bought a car last year I bought a new car on the basis of the accelerating development of better and better safety standard. It got me to thinking that in future I would plan on updating every 5 years or so although you can stay pretty up-to-date with a 1-2 year old car and save significantly on the early value loss on a brand new car. (If you must you can even buy the new-car-odour for just a few dollars) We are now the proud grandparents of a baby granddaughter (hopefully with many more to come) and this has further con firmed the value in updating to more recent safety features – I would never forgive myself if avoidable injury occurred to our children or grandchildren (or anybody else for that matter) for a few thousand dollars. In general though the focus of your blog entry is spot on. Regards.

      1. Cheers Peter, I appreciate you sharing your approach. The vehicle thing seems to be quite a polarising issue, and we all look at it differently. Congratulations on being a Grandparent!

  5. Dave made a great point about how marketing ‘better’ products is very effective…likely much more effective and pervasive than ‘more’. The way it works is to attach some negative ideas to older models/version of the product to get people to fork over their hard-earned, after-tax dollars for new and improved ones. Old cars are ‘death traps’ that are ‘unreliable’ and don’t meet today’s rigorous safety standards. In fact, ‘safety’ is the main reason why we need SUVs over smaller, cheaper, more fuel efficient vehicles. Old houses are ‘rundown’ and ‘dated’. Old phones and TVs are ‘crappy’, ‘outdated’ and ‘slow’. Apple even admitted it scales back the speed of the phone as the battery starts to go. Living in a highly income country, we can certainly choose to go for the newest models/versions of these items, but we just need to realise the subtle subtext that runs through society that made us think such negative thoughts about the stuff we already have. As long as the decision is based this knowledge and on if it really adds value to our lives, then a luxury upgrade here and there shouldn’t add too much time to financial goals…

    1. Thanks very much! Articulated much better than I ever could!

      People seem to get very emotional when it’s pointed out that maybe they don’t need half the stuff they spend money on – they’ve bought into the fears and the marketing that the older versions of the same thing are totally unacceptable anymore. It’s all a choice.

  6. Good post Dave and hit the nail on the head in regards to Consumerism.

    Easy money and credit cards make it so much easier to get into consumerism too. It boggles my mind how many people live pay check to pay check and yet still own 2 new cars, new gadgets, and worst part, buy brand new houses that they can barely afford…

    If you have the time, try to watch the Century of the Self, a 4 hour/part doco about Consumerism.
    One of the best docos i’ve ever seen, really worth the watch.

    1. Thanks Paul, I’ll definitely give that a watch 🙂

      It’s crazy when you step back how much incomes have outstripped inflation (which is even overstated) over the last 50-100 years and we still manage to have no money leftover
      because life is seemingly so expensive and stacked against us and we can’t figure out what’s going on. Blows my mind too.

    2. That’s a very good documentary, Edward Bernays is often considered the father of public relations.

      This blog post also reminded me of Hedonic Adaptation:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedonic_treadmill

      “The hedonic treadmill, also known as hedonic adaptation, is the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes. According to this theory, as a person makes more money, expectations and desires rise in tandem, which results in no permanent gain in happiness.”

      P.S: I also drive a 20 year old car, a 2000 model Subaru. The paint is peeling which I’ve re-done and the audio system inside is failing but I mainly use it for work.. which is a 15min drive. If I head into the city I just catch the bus..

      1. Haha seems there are quite a few of us with 20 year old cars, or apparent ‘death traps’ 😉

        The Hedonic Treadmill is alive and kicking, though it seems to be starting to move in a strange direction, that we’re becoming less happy the better everything gets. Currently reading a book right now which is explaining this in great detail and it’s fantastic – “Everything is Fucked – A Book About Hope” by Mark Manson.

        1. Hey Dave. Long time reader, first time poster 😉.

          People like yourself, Mark Manson and MMM have genuinely changed how I think about the world. I used to be spendy, spendy, spendy. I grew up not exactly poor, but not with much money either. So when I got out in the workforce, I think I subconsciously felt I had a point to prove. By what, buying things?! To show I’m successful. What madness.

          In the last five years (early to late 30’s) I discovered FIRE and Mark Manson. It was like meeting Tyler Durden!

          While Manson isn’t a finance writer, his examination of human nature really lines up with what yourself, MMM and the rest of the FIRE community discuss. We all know it’s about more than money. It’s about a mindset. You get the psychology right and the money becomes just another tool. You get it right, well you are the people stuck on that hedonic treadmill.

          1. Whoops. The last sentence should of course be:
            You get it wrong, well you are the people stuck on that hedonic treadmill.

          2. Thanks for the comment Decky 🙂

            I’m honoured to be mentioned in the same sentence as Manson and Mustache! Both fantastic writers/thinkers! I suppose we’re all trying to tell people to harden up a bit and not to fall into the coddled/entitled mindset that’s ever-growing.

            It’s so great to hear about the turnaround you’ve had – well done!

        2. Ha! Yes that’s it. That’s the common thread. We live in such an amazing time. The greatest ever in history. Yet we are so unhappy.

          In The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris, the author discusses how our mental wiring came about in the hunter gatherer days.

          “Our minds evolved to help us survive in a world fraught with danger. Imagine that you’re an early human hunter-gatherer. What are your essential needs in order to survive and reproduce?

          There are four of them: food, water, shelter and sex, but none of these things mean much if you’re dead. So the number one priority of the primitive human mind was to look out for anything that might harm you and avoid it!”

          “These days, though, it’s not sabre-toothed cats or 200 kilogram wolves that our mind warns us about. Instead it’s losing our job, being rejected, getting a speeding ticket, not being able to pay the bills, embarrassing ourselves in public, upsetting our loved ones, getting cancer, or any of a million and one other common worries.”

          Marketers use this wiring against us. They know how to trigger us. Buy something! This will cures what ails you.

          1. Haha very well put! Perfect! It seems we’ve still got a lot of work to do in changing people’s behaviour… so much for ‘retirement’ 😉

            By the way, I’ll put that book on the list, haven’t read it. Cheers!

  7. Lots of stories. Here’s another one, or more of an observation… I can afford some of the luxuries of life. I’m also old enough that I don’t begrudge myself of those luxuries. But friends of mine who have not a brass razzoo to spend, as well as a huge mortgage, have stuff that I don’t – biggest & best TV, new 3-camera iphone, snazzy 4-wheel drive, ‘luxury’ watches, etc, etc. Priorities I guess!

  8. My 2.5 year old Microsoft surface suddenly died earlier this year, and could not be repaired. I’ve decided not to buy another laptop/iPad, and I am not missing it at all! Also I’m enjoying using my hand-me-down iphone 6 with a slightly damaged screen – the price is unbeatable! 🙂

  9. Reading Ben Franklin’s biography at the moment – he lived on the virtues of frugality and industriousness to build wealth. Some things never change. Great post Dave.

    1. Consumerism isn’t going anywhere whether we like it or not lol. Even if it reduces in prominence over time, there will still be plenty of companies making profits and paying dividends.

  10. Thanks for the thoughtful post.
    One aspect which has not been mentioned yet is that a more considered approach to consuming is so much better for the environment and is a step in the right direction to live sustainably on this planet.

    Saving money for financial independence also helps save the environment.

  11. Great post! Definitely agree with you about the unnecessary costs of constantly updating. I bought a second hand 2010 Toyota hatchback 7 years ago while I was a student (paid in cash!) and its still going strong with only 140000km on it so far. Throughout my early working years people would constantly ask me when I was going to upgrade to a proper sedan or SUV now that I’m making good income (I’m a doctor that’s just finished specialty training) and I am baffled by it. This car will last at least another 10 years and still be comfortable to drive around in! Why would I be trading in for a newer model *already*?

    Technology is a different issue unfortunately. I tell myself every time that I won’t upgrade/buy a new phone till I have to… but the phones honestly seem to be hardwired to fail on us after a couple of years these days. Sigh… (I suppose I could get around this by using a non-smart-phone but I actually do use the smartphone features!)

    1. Haha love the story! Well done for resisting by the way!

      I also got a similar thing at work before I left. ‘You have a bunch of investments so why don’t you get yourself a better car?’ My reply was ‘How do you think I can buy investments? … Because I haven’t bought a new car etc.’ He was stumped and the conversation ended there lol.

      Oh, maybe you’ve had a bad run with phones? We’ve got iphone 4 and 6 that still work very well.

  12. Hi Everyone .
    Fortunately , l was born with a big head , hence l never felt that l had ” to keep up ” .
    Also , l spent an early part of my childhood , from seven to ten years old , on a farm in very isolated conditions without electricity or gas or other modern conveniences at hand .
    Such experiences imbued me with a Spartan outlook as you might well imagine .
    Thus , l have only had one car , for about a period of eighteen or so months , during the early days of my first career when l had to travel some twenty-five kilometres to my gainful employment .
    Since , as a city dweller , l have only traveled buy public transport and a very occasional taxi in moments of emergency .
    How green can one get ?
    Best wishes on your journey to F I , Ramon .

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