April 23, 2011

Coffee & Clicks | April 23, 2011 {Edition #15: Fighting the Consumption Culture - Awesome Posts About the Frugal Life}

Welcome to Coffee & Clicks, my weekly roundup of posts from my Google Reader that caught my eye, that made me think, and that just made me laugh. 

Using Google Reader saves me oodles of time; with a few clicks, I can hop through all my fave blogs to get the critical coupon & deal info I use to save big $$.  But whenever I find myself with a few minutes to spare in the kitchen (which is where my laptop sits on the counter), I also like to scroll through and read for pleasure.

Coffee & Clicks is my way of sharing those interesting posts with you.  If you find yourself with a few minutes of leisure to surf on the weekends while you sip your coffee (or whatever fills your mug), feel free to wander through this list of posts and spend some time reading, reflecting, and relaxing.

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Easter - the biggest day of the liturgical year for Christians - is tomorrow and I'm putting the finishing touches on our feast and goodies today.

One thing, though, has bothered me for the past several years during the Easter season: Easter has become yet another holiday that's been appropriated by the retailers and marketed as a required gift giving occasion, particularly for children.

I'm not opposed to modest Easter baskets or candy (my kids will get their chocolate bunnies and have the annual thrill of racing around our house on Easter morning looking for eggs filled with jelly beans and M&Ms and quarters) but it does trouble me to see the extent to which Easter has become commercialized.

Case in point: I walked into a major retail big box store this week to pick up a desk I had ordered for my daughter; when I stepped through the front doors, I walked into a veritable tunnel of oversized and overstuffed Easter baskets, some with price tags near $100, almost all of them nearly as tall as my nine-year-old daughter.

She looked up at the wall of baskets filled with - there's just no better word to use than "junk" - then looked at me and said, "Oh wow - that's just too much stuff."

I sighed and nodded in agreement while I thought to myself that I must be doing something right as a parent if my nine-year-old can recognize the marketing of excess and unnecessary stuff (I'd use a word that starts with "cr" and rhymes with "nap" if I wasn't worried that it might offend some of you fine readers) geared right at her age demographic.

One of the best things about embracing the frugal life for me has been the sense that over time, I am growing a super-immunity to the whims of our consumption culture and the retailers and marketers who are constantly fueling the fires of "I want!" in the hearts of their target customers.  Sometimes I feel that tug of "I want!" as well (who doesn't?) but I can recognize it for what it is - a momentary thrill, a flash of childish envy, a pulse of fear that I'm not doing enough as a parent.  More importantly, I can stand back a bit from my knee-jerk emotional response and get a bit of  perspective.

What I do have - a great marriage, healthy kids, my health, secure home, family, friends, a sense of purpose in life and the freedom to pursue it - is far greater than whatever new gizmo, gadget, or shiny thing that Acme Marketing or XYZ Retailer is telling me I must have to make my life perfect

My life isn't perfect - no one's is - but it's mine

I own it, I love it, and I'm thankful for it and thankful that I can see through the smokescreen of marketing and advertising that tells me I need more, more, more to be happy.  I simply don't.

There were a few posts out there in the blogosphere that echoed my sentiments - and did a better job saying what's been rattling around in my head as I type this - this week:

:: What's in Your Hand - Besides a Credit Card, I Mean? by the DHM over at Frugal Hacks is a well-written look at how we have become conditioned to believe that we are what we have and the utter fallacy that idea is.  This is a fantastic post - go read it. 

:: Anyone Planning to Downsize Car Because of Gas Prices? at Frugal Dad is short but he hit on a point that has been bugging me, too.  I saw the clip on Fox News of our President flippantly saying that hey, if those gas prices are killing you at the pump, maybe it's time to trade those gas guzzlers in for a more efficient vehicle.  Um, no thanks, Mr. President; when I run the numbers, it's still far cheaper for us to drive our PAID for cars and fill 'em than to take on more debt in the form of car loans and pay more at the pump. 

:: Revealed: 30 Day Cut the Clutter Challenge Results at The Motherload - as always, Amy inspires me.  I started my own de-cluttering for 2011 when our basement flooded two months ago and I've been tackling other spots in our house as I have time.  It feels good to get rid of so much extra stuff that was just literally weighing me down.  Amy says it best: "You Don’t Need Another Basket, But You Might Need Another Donation Bag".  So true!

Have a wonderful weekend!

2 comments:

  1. I agree with you Mar! Our kids get a treat, one smaller gift and usually a book. I was at a big box retailer yesterday as well and saw loads of parents just throwing stuff into carts mindlessly all in the name of "Easter". It took me 10 minutes just to find a bag of the "cheap" plastic eggs (ours got recycled last year). It's crazy and makes me thankful for just what you mentioned. A strong marriage and great kids.

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  2. We seem to live in a society of instant gratification. We have more and more households that are just overloaded with all those purchases and becoming so cluttered and full that there is no room for the family. We need more people to realize the true meaning behind our holidays and spend time with their kids rather than just continually buy them things they really don't need.

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