Today I have a guest from Sarah at Not Just A Baker, a new friend of mine! This post is perfect, on so many levels, for my Battling the Banks theme because it’s part of why our economy is the way it is. One of the symptoms.
Anyways, meet Sarah:
I am a mom to 3 kids: a bossy, stubborn 4 year old, an ADD 6 year old, and a 7 year old with Moyamoya. I talk about life as a bipolar mom trying to live green, garden as much as possible, and eating healthy. I write with total honesty and no fluff. My blog is my opinion but feel free to share your own; I won’t hold it against you. I also do marketing and customizations for WordPress websites as a freelancer.
Stumble Upon: http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/NotJustaBaker
Keeping Up with the Joneses
The American “dream.” Being successful, having money, new furniture, new cars, a big house with a white picket fence, children dressed in their best at all times and always well behaved, successful parties, blah, blah, blah.
Whose life is like that? I mean really.
We’re obsessed with “The Real Housewives of …” whatever. We envy their life, their possessions, the trips they take, the clothes they wear, and the purses they carry. These obsessions have taken the “dream” and turned it into a nightmare.
The average credit card debt for households is $15,799.*
Total U.S. revolving debt is $793.1 billion.*
At least 8 million homeowners are at least 1 mortgage payment behind and 31% say they are “underwater” on their mortgage.
The number of children living in poverty has gone up by about 2 million in the last 2 years.**
Americans now owe more than $904 billion in student loans, a record high.**
In the last 10 years the number of Americans without health insurance has risen from 38 million to 52 million.**
Average U.S. household debt is now 136% of the average household income.**
This is the American dream? I think not. This is not what our parents, grandparents, and previous generations had in mind for us. Our need to “keep up with the Joneses” is ruining lives, marriages, and families.
What’s worse is instead of seeing this trend for what it is and putting a stop to it, we are passing it on to our own children. With TV shows like The Real Housewives of… whatever, we are encouraging them to be envious of what others have and what is near impossible to attain for the average American.
Peer pressure associated with designer clothes, shoes, iPods, and the like is running rampant. More and more adolescents are using prescription anti-depressants and not just to get a high. Even I have succumbed to buying particular brands for my 2nd grader because she was teased last year about her clothes.
The trend of living frugally and minimally is on a rise but the mainstream mindset labels those that chose to do so as being tree-hugging hippies.
Couponing, the latest craze in how to cut spending, has become so popular that grocery stores are facing financial crisis. There’s so many of us trying to spend less that it’s ruining businesses that we depend on. Is this not a cry for help or what?
I’d like to say that material things don’t matter to me but that would be a lie. I want it all but I realize I don’t need it all. I don’t want the tens of thousands of dollars in debt to have it.
I look at people who spend thousands of dollars on Louis Vuitton purses, exotic cars, and 5,000+ sqft homes and think about what they could be doing with their money. Funding charities that feed and clothe the homeless, groups that help women escape abusive situations, or providing technology and supplies to underfunded schools.
We need to end our obsession with keeping up with everyone else and focus on teaching values of life, love, and money to our children. Show them that their clothes don’t make them who they are and we do that by setting that example ourselves. Show them the importance of providing for others and how to lend a hand.
Live frugally. Live minimally.
I guess I need to take my own advice.
*Source is CreditCards.com http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/credit-card-industry-facts-personal-debt-statistics-1276.php
**Source is EndOfTheAmericanDream.com http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/35-statistics-that-show-the-average-american-family-has-been-broke-down-tore-down-beat-down-busted-and-disgusted-by-this-economy