I grew up in a family that consumes resources in ways inconsistent with my core values. Many frugal people and fiscally responsible people say they learned those practices at home; I did not. While my father was quite “cheap” in some ways that I inherited (wearing clothes until well past their functionality), my family was constantly in debt and worried about the financial future, even though both of my parents worked as highly paid professionals in the sciences. I remember my parents discussing how the checks they wrote at the grocery store would “clear” after their paychecks hit–hopefully–but we always had extravagant Christmases and went on huge back-to-school shopping splurges.
My mother likes to tell the story of my second Christmas that she thinks is “cute,” but I think is rather telling of how different I am than my family with regards to consumerism. We had traveled to Florida to spend Christmas with my father’s parents. Mom had carefully chosen and wrapped tons of presents because this was the first Christmas I would remember, and I was the first child and what child doesn’t love unwrapping mounds of shiny, new toys? Well, I opened the first present–a Fisher Price doll house–and played with it contentedly for about an hour. Mom urged me to open the other gifts. I responded, “No, thanks. This is enough for today.”
Needless to say, the adults began the pressure of consumerism rather than accepting that answer. I am actively working to reject it through my shopping ban and fast food fast. Overriding your childhood programming is more challenging than it seems to be.
I also have a tendency towards being a packrat and a mean “cheap” streak that stockpiles free stuff (mostly from family members “upgrading” their own things) that might one day be useful.
My frugality urges me to conserve still usable resources for the time I will eventually need to use them because my current versions will wear out or need replacing.
The minimalist response to this tends to be to trust that the universe will provide. I find this challenging, but I’m working on it.
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