Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Do You Have Affluenza?

Last Sunday I learned about a vicious disease called Affluenza. A horrible illness that has struck most Americans and leaves them debilitated.

It starts with an burning sensation, usually around the pocket area where you keep your wallet, then it creeps into your world, causing distress and emptiness. This illness causes perfectly normal people to feel perfectly unhappy and dissatisfied with their life. The symptoms include the drive to accumulate "stuff", the burning need to "keep up with the Joneses" and the all consuming fixation with having more than. Do you have Affluenza?

We were challenged to imagine that we were told we had to leave in 10 minutes because of some great disaster. We could only grab three things and whatever it was it had to be something we could carry. I racked my brain to think of what three things I'd bring and all I could think about was if a pack of diapers and a pack of wipes would be considered one item each or if each diaper counted as one.

Then I started trying to figure out what I'd do with a child who poops WAY TOO MUCH (I have one that poops too little
, and one that poops all the freaking time), would I get the baby underpants and just wash those? I guess he'd get potty trained much quicker. After a few minutes I stopped thinking about poopy children and started listening to the sermon again. And this is what I took from it.

Mostly, we could look around our homes and realize that we could live without pretty much all of it. Most of it is just "stuff". He read a passage from this book that I can't remember the name of but if you really really want to know email me and I'll find out for you. It was called something like Following Jesus in a Consumer Driven Society and it pretty much said this.

If you wake up and feel joy from sitting in your backyard in the sunlight listening to the birds sing, enjoy sitting with friends and talking, have a healthy happy sex and marital life, get pleasure from watching your children playing...well, then, in our society you are considered useless because you haven't spent a dime yet.

On the other hand, if you are unhappy, empty in your friendships and your marital life, if you are stressed by your family and children are feel empty inside. Well, likely, you'll go looking for something at Target or Nordstrom to fill that void. And you'll be more valued in our world.

Every ad out there on TV and in Magazines will be directed at you and will tell you that you are not complete without pictured item. Essentially, it says "take Prada bag and insert in mass void that is your life" And we buy in to it.

So I've been thinking about this. The constant drive to get more "stuff" and how bad our mass consumption and wastefulness can be as a culture. And then I started thinking about the Frump posts as well and how much of what we post about frump involves shopping for the right stuff.

And I was wondering how someone can work on following all the non-frump rules while reducing consumption and not accumulating more "stuff". Besides, many people might not feel like they can go out and buy a brand new wardrobe or perhaps they are trying to cut down on their consumption.

Or maybe this post will make you think about cutting down on yours. Because what I'm hoping to show you is that you can get some perfectly unfrumpy "stuff" second hand and why second hand is a really good option.

Sarah mentioned last week in
HB's comments that she is losing weight and doesn't want to go buy a new wardrobe when she isn't at her goal size. Yet, she does want to look good as she is now, dressed in Non-character t-shirts and not wearing skinny jeans of course (I do read the frump posts, thank you-even if I wear the occasional t-shirt that is on the What Not to Wear list).

Anyway, my suggestion is to check out your local thrift store or consignment shop. And if you go the way of thrift you will also be helping out a worthy cause. Even better, when you go, take your bag of old frumpy clothes with you and leave them there. That way you're keeping your accumulation of stuff at a minimum and helping out a good cause at the same time! Everybody wins!

Now let me tell you about my thrift experience on Sunday morning. I've been in need of a pair of dark brown pants for awhile now. What did I see at my local Goodwill but a pair of nice brown dress pants in MY size (well, a little big, I guess the running is working) and get this-ALREADY HEMMED! JimmyEW said "You can't find that at the mall!" and that is for sure. The best part? They were pink tags so they were 50% off and ended up costing me less than $2.

I also got a pair of flawless Old Navy jeans in my size and length! Those were $6. And I almost got these boots-if they'd only been 1/2 size bigger I would have gotten them. They'd look awesome with my brown argyle tights and my brown cord skirt.

While I was there I saw these brand new shoes for only $3 and change. Many non-profit thrift stores have deals with local retailers to take the items that don't sell. So
you get a good deal on a never worn pair of shoes. Nice huh?

What does shopping thrift have to do with Affluenza and consumption? I would say that shopping thrift is like an inoculation against Affluenza because even if you are getting some very high end chic things, you still know that you didn't pay full price and that someone else wore it first. And knowing is half the battle.

But also the great thing about shopping this way is that you are helping keep stuff out of the landfills by purchasing them and loving them as your own. AND you're also not directly supporting companies that use child labor or sweat shops. Sure the top you bought at the thrift store may have been made by a 10-year-old somewhere, but your money isn't going to that company in any way shape or form so you can wear your goods with a clean conscious. This can also work for those people who love their leather but don't like the thought of some poor cow giving up it's skin.

So I guess my point is, you may already have a ton of stuff but I'm sure there is more stuff you need or want. And we drive ourselves further into debt trying to get these things that we probably don't need which leads us down the path of Allfluenza. So reuse, buy used and leave some stuff of your own there when you do it.

For other ideas about living simply check out The Simple Family and Nester and I'm sure there are a ton of other ones out there. If you know of a good site let me know!

AND for some great tips for daily living go see ROCKS IN MY DRYER.

What's that? You want to comment? Just click on the itty-bitty words below that say "Gimme Some Sugar". Can you see them? Good. We can't wait to chat with you.


saintseester said...

There are so many more things you can get at thrift stores to prevent Affluenza. At one time my daughter LOVED dress up. I mean, at any given time, she was out of her own clothing looking for something to dress up in. Santa went looking for some dress up costumes at Target and elsewhere. Can you believe they wanted $30.00 a piece for itchy purple sequined cheap tacky fairy ballerina garbage?

Santa went to a local thrift store at an upscale neighborhood. Santa found size 7 prom dresses (at the time when those short ones were in fashion). These were made from wonderful fabrics like satin, crinoline, organza, taffeta. They were absolutely gorgeous. On a 5 year old they were floor length gowns.

Santa bought 4 of them and spent a grand total of $16.00. For years, it was all she would wear at home. Of course, Santa did not appreciate the look from the clerk that said, "You'll never squeeze into these." But, whatever.

saintseester said...

Oh, PS, and the 10 minute rush? The ONLY thing that I can think of to take are my wedding album and other photo albums.

Valarie said...

Well you made me second guess going and looking for a car today. I guess I can still drive mine until the wheels fall off.

Ok and the thrift store is ok, but you see I have this thing about other peoples stuff that I don't know. I gives me the creeps. So I am trying to get over that. I am all for free stuff,as long as I know who has been wearing it. I know, I know its just one of those issues I have.

Oh and I would grab pictures, matches, and a utility tool of some sort, like swiss army knife.

Sister Honey Bunch said...

I love resale shops. I have bought two really nice Ann Taylor suits for dirt cheap.

Simple Family Supper lady said...

We LOVE our resale stores!!!!!
Simple living is the BEST!!! I don't want to catch Afluenza, though I probably have already if you measure me against some standards! LOL!!!

Ashlee said...

10 minute camera {I know, I can't help it!}, my purse, my pictures. I had to think about it though...if it were real, and I was told we were leaving NOW, and because I'm OCD and wouldn't want to be late for leaving NOW, I'd probably grab my purse and my kids and head out the door. I'd cringe at the time left over that I could have grabbed something else. But I like your point. It's just stuff. My pictures are priceless to me because they are my memories of my family. But, I guess I've already got a lot of those stored up in my head anyway.
I hate keeping up with the Jones'. My philosophy is that the Jones' are probably so far gone in debt anyway buying all of their "fabulous" things...and I don't want to imitate that! They can have their "plastic smiles" and I'll keep my happy kids. Comfortable living beats maxed out credit cards any day! :0)

Momma Mary said...

Thanks for reminding me about thrift stores. I haven't been to one since high school. (My Sr. Prom dress was a thrift store purchase.)

10 minute rush: The diaper bag, my purse, and my computer bag. My camera is almost always in my computer bag.

Now, my kid doesn't count as a 'thing' does he? Because I would totally ditch my purse in his favor if I had to.

Sister Sassy said...

Seester- I laughed out loud at your Santa Claus trying to squeeze into a prom dress. The visual was great (because I don't know what you look like, you looked like Santa).

Valerie-just get a Prias! Lol, but really buying a good car is a neccessity with work and family so please don't think I'd say not to buy one. Although I wish we'd have bought a used car for our first one. I'm not loving that payment much right now. And I know some people get the creeps wearing other's close, but wash them and then make up little stories in your head about who owned them. plus, you can find things with Tags on, suggesting newness. :)

Simple-I think anyone from any standards can seem to have Affluenza depending on who is looking at them. I'm sure to someone who lives off the land, makes their own everything and or are Amish would think pretty much everyone has Affluenza.

Ashlee- good comment. Comfortable living does beat credit card debt.

Momma Mary- I don't think your kids count as one. I'd have to take my camera too. THat was my first thought. And I guess i'd be ok with my Nikon film camera because if the world go nuts and there's no electricity I can still develop my film and pics the old fashion way- WHICH I LOVE TO DO.

Sister Honey Bunch said...

DUDE! Do I not even exist???? Again with the ignoring.

Sister Sassy said...

Boo hoo. Find me a post where you respond to my comment :P

I was going to say "oh, yes-you posted a whole article about thrift stores" but frankly I forgot.

Sister Sassy said...

Do you think other blog authors crab at each other in their comments? lol

Thalia's Child said...

Fantastic post!

I do a lot of shopping for Punkin at our local 'big chain' thrift store (really. We have a thrift store chain. It's called Value Village).

I live in a town that does not have GapKids, or Old Navy, or any specialty children's clothing stores, except for Please Mum. But if I spend 45 minutes cruising VV, Punkin looks like I spend most of my free time shopping in Vancouver (which is 8 hours away).

And because of the nature of baby clothing, most of it is in near new condition. Sometimes it still even has tags on it.

Sister Sassy said...

Great Thalia's Child! Glad you find good deals. We have a childre's resale store here called Children's Orchard. You can franchise it. ANyway, it all used and very nice quality. The owner runs a black light over them to make sure they're flawless. Name brands and everything.

The Nester said...

Sisters, I think about this very subject SO much! I desire to look pretty and have a pretty house. I enjoy beauty and I feel that is because we have been made in His image and He enjoys beauty.

But how to balance that? It can be hard! This year we are really trying not to buy new. It's not a vow or anything but, I just want to see.

Even though I will be buying a new shirt to wear to a wedding Saturday. Already went to 3 goodwills--nothing.

I am thrilled that you linked to me for this topic!

Sister Honey Bunch said...

Sassy, I'm just sayin'. You responded to everyone except me. I feel like I got dumped at the prom.

Oh, and blah-blah-blah

saintseester said...

Gawd, you'd think you two were sisters or something. :-)

Sister 7 said...

Great post Sister. That is something my husband struggles with a lot and it makes my life a lot harder. Everyone has more or better stuff then us (they really don't - it just looks like it). I think when most of us look at what others have and think it is better then ours and what we wished we had, they don't think about what might really be going on in that family. Everything on the outside may seem hunky doory. They have a huge house, great cars, kids happy etc but do we really know what struggles they deal with daily? Maybe one of them is chronically sick or the reason they have so much stuff is that they have maxed out everything. They may have struggles with their kids etc. Yes their life could really be great but we will never know what things most people have to deal with in their everyday life and we need to appreciate what we already have.

echolily said...

Great article. I love buying secondhand for my daughter. She grows so fast anyway I don't like spending a lot of money on her clothes.

Sister Sassy said...

SIster 7, I forgot about your man's tendency toward this. I really wish he'd find peace with that part of himself.

Echolily- I love you! And your daughter would look spectacular in a potato sack.