Friday, 28 December 2012

Resisting the culture of consumerism

The festive season has struck me that our society is going down the path of excessive spending.

There are no short of evidences showing this culture of consumerism taking place all along, not just the festive season. Property advertisements splashed across newspapers' full page, associating expensive  and posh houses with the high life. Banks dangling carrots to encourage credit card spending, and concurrently coming up with cards catering to the youths. Friends around me spotting branded bags, displaying designers clothes, splurging more frequently on spas and expensive cuisines in high class restaurants. 

Not a bad thing actually. As these spending keep the economy growing and churning out more wealth in the process. On investment front, it is these spending that keep the companies I am vested in growing, and in the process growing my wealth. Furthermore, it is just natural for people to spend as the nation develops and prosper on the economic front. 

However, one must be able to see a deeper form of transformation taking place beneath this culture, one that is more fundamental, with a far wider social and value impact on our next generation. The rise of consumerism, inevitably, erodes the traditional values of thrift, prudent spending and a sense of grounded-ness. They are at odds with each other, the prevalence of one spell the demise of the other. Couple these with the internet and social media that are almost omni-present, which makes sharing and displaying of wealth much easier, more and more youths are succumbing to this culture. 

I cant help but to worry for my next generation. Will they grow up thinking that it is important to live in the moment, spend today and worry tomorrow, and most importantly, taking material wealth as an indicator for spiritual happiness and character development? 

Personally, I am not against spending. It is perfectly fine to pamper oneself with flashy gadgets, good food in fine dining restaurants, and a luxurious cruise holiday once in a while. It helps one relax, recharge and keeps him motivated. It will be even better if the spending results in quality time spent with your loved ones, strengthening the bonds between one another. 

But, I am against spending just because one can afford to. I am against spending without contemplating do I need this, does it add value to my personal well-being and character development. I am against spending because all my peers are having fun and that means I must be part of them, or else I will be outdated. 

Perhaps one might say this is too old school, too draconian, and it takes away all the fun in spending. But it is all a matter a balance. Balancing between needs and wants, between instant and delayed gratification, between enjoying life in moderation and building up the nest egg for the golden years. And I think I am doing a fantastic balancing act, without feeling shortchanged and deprived at all while adhering to my savings and investment goals. 

Delaying gratification and ensuring a blissful second half of my life, is, in my opinion, way more fulfilling and enriching than enjoying the high life now and having to work well into your golden years. I would rather spend prudently now, ensuring my true wealth is growing day-by-day, such that I can be sure of a comfortable retirement at least a decade earlier than others. 

As the Chinese saying goes, 先苦后甜. By the way, I feel that our Chinese idioms contain tonnes of wisdom.

Probably that is the time I will embrace consumerism with open arms. :)

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