Consumerism - Household debt and embracing minimalism

The world has gone mad. Sorry for long post as I felt it is a strong topic.

Biggest global economic recession ever but I’m reading in the news:

  • Playstation 5 sold out worldwide on first preorders from day 1. Kids on forums demanding their parents buy them by Xmas and upset because preorder notice was not given.

  • New Nvidia 3080 graphics card for gaming all stock bought up by bots/scalpers to resell on eBay profiteering for over $10,000+ each

  • People in panic if same above happens to new Microsoft XBox preorder date next week.

  • People I know are saying they are struggling to save up to buy above items and iPhone etc. Well not really essential items so why struggle and just skip it?

I’ve had Viki subscription since 2017 and always same monthly price from day 1 of £4 GBP a month. So Viki in terms of entertainment against per hour cost is excellent and got me through past few months especially.

It seems consumerism has really has created higher household debt among younger people than ever.

I read a book called Goodbye Things by Fumio Sasaki. It is about embracing minimalism.

Here is the author at a conference. The book itself has more in depth perspective I adopted to a certain degree. Please support the author if you feel it interests you further by buying his book.

OK I know if we all stop buying non-essential things in retail it damages the economy if people are all saving up and only buying food. But it is about drawing the line and not over buying objects to validate yourself to others, fear of missing out from socia media or buying beyond your financial means.

Below is the most impactful video I saw about S. Korea younger household debt. The poor guy has put himself into such a depressing situation!

Do you feel in control of your spending and manage your monthly outgoings well? How?

Thoughts and experiences from above?


I actually just watched a webinar a few weeks ago on this and it mentioned that three generations ago that no one would have thought to borrow money from a bank (go into debt) to buy a house/car and that families would work together/save up and buy whatever they needed together without going into debt. The mindset then was save money and pass off a good inheritance to the next generation and then people started borrowing/not saving money to pass along and borrowing tons of money from lenders etc. whereas many now and more along the lines of “spend beyond what you can afford”.

Most of the time it’s just about being content and thankful for what you already have. Let’s be honest - many of us already have everything we need and should appreciate it more rather than trying to get the next “latest and greatest”. It’s sad when people spend way beyond their means and then realize too late that they got themselves into a terrible situation. :frowning: The good thing is you can turn those situations around and improve if you try!

  • Minimalism

I saw a minimalism documentary on Netflix. Maybe you saw it too. The 2 guys interviewed in the documentary made Youtube vids, podcasts, tours and a website:

  • the art of tidying up by Marie Kondo

I felt it was linked to minimalism because of “sentimental items.” That is to say:
“Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy.”

  • Consumerism

I think:

Innovation (cars…) and mass production (Ford…) participated in consumerism.

Consumption of new technologies for products that were created to make our life easier (car, dish washer…) and for products to keep us entertained (TV or game consoles).

The new products from before became essential products of our present life (computer, mobile phone,…) or the standard way of living.

We kind of see products placements everywhere (TV, social media, “unboxing” videos on YouTube or how vloggers are advertising about themselves and a new product, new service, new place they visit, new hotel, new dress, new restaurant, hairdresser…).

  • needs and fulfilling them:

I think we don’t learn to be happy with what we have or with an old version of a product. We learn or we are conditionned or we are exposed (marketing, your circle, people around you, news) to make us think that we need the latest version of something because they will advertise that the new version has another function the old one didn’t have and can do X and Y you couldn’t do before or the old version is lacking. It’s amazing or I need that is the reaction an ad or a vendor are looking for.

I think the difference is in that: we have needs, people create new needs for us or they exacerbate these needs, they get better in knowing consumers behaviors, reaching us through social medias and analyzing human emotions.

They instill envy (she’s so pretty! Look at the new game console!) or insecurity (if I don’t have it, I miss sth).

But at the bottom of it, I think it is linked to something really human and deeper:
Insecurities, feeling accepted or not left out when your friends have the same toy or our pursuit of happiness because we believe it will bring us joy or make us happy.

We don’t learn to be happy differently.
We learn that consumming can make us “happy” or less “unhappy.”

Still, I think to go into that stage of minimalism, what triggered it? Because they were consumming over and over again to make them realize that…?
To go through that process, do we need to feel something strong? Like a wake-up call? Or feel unhapiness?

For game consoles… goes into entertainment, same as dramas.

Why don’t we just watch only 1 drama, why we need to watch the same more or less kind of drama?
Why don’t we just buy the same shirt 7x time?
Why don’t we just eat the same menu 7 days/week?
What’s the use of colors?
Why would we need to customize?

  • spending more than what we could afford
    It depends.
    If it’s for studying for college. It’s education.
    If the benefit is bigger than the fees and we can pay it back fine, why not then?

Life is just more expensive then if we need to take loans. New tech has a price.

It goes back to: I think it will bring me joy.

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There is another thing. Things are built to NOT last. I would never have changed my fridge, I was fine with it, but it died on me, so I had no choice. It died on me after only 7-8 years, when its predecessor had lived more than 20 years.
Same with my laptop. I really really loved it but its graphic card got tired of life in this valley of tears and started flashing green everywhere. The new laptop I had to buy last year has a very uncomfortable keyboard with red letters on a black background and even when they are backlit (in RED!) I have trouble reading them. Not the real alphabet, because I know it by heart, but all the other things around it, which are slightly different from laptop to laptop. I had no choice than dishing money to buy a new laptop and saying a tearful goodbye to the old one.
I was extremely happy with Windows 2007 but then Microsoft stopped supporting them. I still didn’t budge, however I had to change to Windows 10 with my new laptop because it doesn’t support Windows 7. Oh yeah, and I had to toss my scanner, which worked perfectly fine, because there are no compatible drivers anymore.
And don’t get me started with phones. Five years and it’s considered an antique - if it has survived for “that long”. Whereas my old Nokia from 20 years ago is still in perfect working order, I recently gifted it to a friend with financial difficulties.

My point is that even if you consciously want to avoid consumerism and keep your old stuff, nowadays you can’t, because early death is built into it since its creation. It’s part of the design, so to speak.

I do mend clothes and socks, though. It’s a pity to throw them away, and nowadays charities don’t accept anything that isn’t in tip-top condition (the poor and needy are more picky than we are). And I keep pieces of fabric for future crafts.


Planned Obsolescence!

There’s a French website about the history of Planned Obsolescence which I read after reading your post:

  • It began with light bulbs from Phoebus Cartel (Philips, General Electric,…). They created this cartel to control the market and made light bulbs lifetime go from 2 500 hours to 1 000 hours while raising the price, so people bought more. They fined their manufacturers who produced light bulbs lasting more than their standards.

  • A few years after the stock market crash of 1929 in America, a real estate agent Bernard Landon published a book explaining how people could “End the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence”, that is to say this business strategy could fight unemployment during the crisis (American unemployment rate reached its highest peak during 2 periods: 1930 and coronavirus) and incite people to consume to boost the economy.

  • Then in 1950 the invention of “aesthetic obsolescence” in this article from Brook Stevens, an American industrial designer:
    “Planned Obsolescence is instilling in the buyer the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary.”

It is different from the technical planned obsolescence because people are influenced by fashion and pick to change a product because of advertisement, release of new product and not because the old product doesn’t work anymore.

The technical planned obsolescence (a component doesn’t work anymore) got popularized thanks to aesthetical obsolescence.

  • from 1960, people begin to denounce it and the ecological problems. A part of the machines that we throw go to India, Africa… They become the rubbish dumps of the world.

  • today, planned obsolescence is a crime in Europe: 2 years of jail and €300K.


Going back to incandescent light bulbs, the Livermore Centennial Light Bulb in a lighthouse in California has the longest life time! More than 100 yo in contrast to light bulbs with a planned obsolescence. The light is less powerful, being 100 yo.

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Did you try installing a driver to change the color of your keyboard?

I remember when I first used this keyboard, I didn’t know how to change colors and finally it was shortcuts already integrated.
If changing colors is not integrated already, maybe you have to install a driver. It depends on the light they put in your keyboard (mine was an RGB RedGreenBlue keyboard), but you can’t change if it’s a one light LED keyboard. It’s important to know before you buy it.

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What a great discussion.

The college loan debt in the US is ridiculous. I am not familiar with how that damage evolved for my generation and the millennials who are stuck with college debt until they probably retire - it’s ridiculous. How did education in the US become so expensive?

Money management / debt management needs to be taught in school - starting in elementary. I wish they did that when I was growing up - what is a FICO score? Experian? Transunion - what? So we are “scored” to live above our means to be able to get a better deal in a mortage? a car loan? What a “broken” system - serving only to benefit the banks and not the consumers.


Only red, and I knew it. But even if it were white, it’s not enough at night. It’s a gaming laptop (because of the features I wanted) so you’re not supposed to write a lot, but I write a lot.

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That is correct.

Very common in school the students are taught by teachers and by parents to always:

  1. Save money, work hard for someone else 9-5
  2. Get the maximum mortgage based on current income
  3. Buy a new car on a monthly plan.

Saving abundant money in a bank account means it will devalue over time with very little interest and will not compensate over rate of inflation. If too many people save money and do not spend then the country’s economy does not build up.

It is surprising to know that not many understand you can build up credit rating by simply using your credit card for expenses/bills then pay off by the month end completely rather than using a debit card funds.

Life skills that should be included in high schools. Realism needs to be settle into younger minds now rather than later in their lives in order to prepare, plan and motivate:

  1. Income/Commercial Taxation as small business owner or self-employed
  2. Private Pensions
  3. Property investment
  4. Inheritance Tax - How to minimise. The most ridiculous tax ever existed!
  5. Financial day to day management
  6. Spend money not on materialistic items but on real experiences. Social and travel, as memories are pricesless to look back on.

The concept of minimalism in spending isn’t new and not everyone’s way. It is just an idea of minimising your monthly outgoings, so technically you could work less as you wouldn’t spend as much therefore giving you more time to use on experiences and living to do what you want to do.


How much is private college / public college in the US?

Do they work like companies?

Giving advice about that tends to be what a specialist would give and not for free.

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A long time ago, I came across the book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” - I’m still the 9-5 type but I learned to not hold any loyalties to “Corporate”. My loyalty is to life, not “making a living” but I am grateful to be employed. I haven’t checked my portfolio because of the tanking economy :persevere: . I don’t count on having Social Security available when I retire because the funds would dry up. I know I’m paying for baby boomers and I’m ok with that. I don’t need fancy things or big chunks of ROI - just want a comfortable, peaceful and healthy life surrounded by people who matter to me - oh and be able to walk the Camino De Santiago when I retire. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Hi there sorry I just saw this question.

I don’t claim to be an expert but the average student loan debt of a college-educated American nowadays can easily be at least $50,000.

Do they work like private companies? I honestly don’t know, I’m sorry.

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@piranna, I currently have two kids in college, one attending an in-state university and the other one in an out-of-state university. Generally speaking, state universities, depending on the state and school ranking, will cost anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 per year, tuition only. If you look at private universities or out of state schools, they will cost minimum of $40,000 per year, tuition only. Now, when you add the housing and meal plans, you are looking at approximately $70,000 per year for private or out of state schools. I hope this answers your question.


How does all this compare to Finland/Nordics?

Here is a video where a Japanese women comes to the Nordics to compare work life.

All episodes in the series

To me I would say many ppl in the Nordic countries strife for a simple life with good work-life balance. In a way I wonder what the difference and similarities of “Minimalism” (as mentioned by @qapnguyen_28 )and Simplicity is or are they the same.

I think this is a big problem and debt. Just for info;

this seems to be a common problem in the west

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Thanks for the videos. :slight_smile:

I think minimalism goes a lot further than just living a simple life. It means stripping yourself of anything that’s not absolutely necessary.


I don’t think I’m ready to dump my Viki subscription yet though :grin:

On a more serious note, I try not to use too much plastic - straws, bags etc. Plastic though is universally (and ridiculously) ubiquitous. I wish there’ll be a way to make more biodegradable items that does not take millions of years to go away.

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The horror! :scream:

I think Viki is in the “absolutely necessary” catagory, though. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Thank you!

Is it common for US students to take a loan for their studies?

How was the book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”? Would you recommend it for people not living in the US?

With social media, I see advertisement everywhere. Ordinary people become influencers and advertise a new bag, their camera, the restaurants or cafes they go to… it’s non-ending.
That is profitable for 2 parts: companies and influencers (who could be students too or young people).

An ex: Youtube comments where young people react.

Influencers are like individuals that other people either can identify with, either are references.

From one part, there are spaces where a certain type of indivuals like us will be more likely to follow an advice from someone whom we “trust” his opinion on sth.

On the other part, influencers are paid according to the photo or video they post with the product and a number of views… Influencers are entrepreneurs too, their market is their content and their followers.

But young people don’t really see it that way.
It’s subtle. We don’t really recognize it between content where they mix talking about their life and good exp with advertised products. Doesn’t sound like an advertisement on TV, but a recommendation or a tip from sb they follow.

Consumerism and household debts:
I think people, but also marketing and other entities also play a part in that.

There are people gaining money from consumerism and household debts.
2007-2008 subprime crisis. High commissions for this product, rated AAA by agencies.
These products were also sold by famous companies to people who couldn’t possibly pay it back and they were evicted from their house.

In all that, there must have been a part of greed.

I find it difficult for people to go against their environment or stimuli from it or what they see from their environment. You have friends who have an Iphone. Companies build houses with 2 or 3 bathrooms, people buy 2 or 3 cars or change it often…

It’s also part of the culture to show (or not) what you have or indicators of wealth or the status of an individual.

Because the value sb will see in himself might be linked to them. In his eyes or a portion of the population, but not in someone else’s eyes.

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And not just that. Whenever some new device is released, sooner or later more and more people start using it and as a result societies create a use for them.
What initially was a luxury product, then becomes a necessity or at least something that not just your friends, but even your government assumes everyone owns.

Social influencers/social media does cause depression. Simply put you see a person’s page and each post they are eating, doing or owning something out of reach. So followers believe that person’s life is joyful like that every day. But in reality they are just “snapshots” of their best days.

Here is the thing most people can’t buy the best car or best home right. However most people can buy the best phone. So naturally we reach out towards what the most rich can buy to feel part of their success and feel part of the group.

Ask the question if a person lost their job, home and belongings - Are they still the same person. Measure a person’s value of their character.

As technology grows we become less humane. Seriously put the phone away when with friends, stop sending messages and actually make a phone call. Leave the house and meet up.

So whether we like it or not every country has their own social hierarchy. Look at India’s Caste system. Even developed countries have same system but no one wants to admit it is just more discrete.

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