4 Ways to Become Less Materialistic

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If you want to save money, everyone tells you that you need to stop caring what the Joneses think. Trying to keep up with them will make you broke and unhappy. However, no one tells you how to stop caring about material items, status, and luxury brands. 

If you think success means a vacation home in the Hamptons and a BMW, it can be difficult to deprogram that mindset, especially if your parents endorsed it. Although changing your beliefs about success and prosperity can be difficult, it’s crucial to shift your mindset if you want to build wealth. Here are some steps I took to become less materialistic so I could save more money. 

Hang Out With a Different Crowd 

Hanging out with people who care about status markers like luxury brands is bad for your wallet. If your friends are always talking about their five-star vacations and designer purchases, you’ll feel peer pressure to keep up. 

I’ve realized that I don’t want to surround myself with people who make me feel less than for not being able to afford luxuries while meeting my financial goals. Distancing myself from materialistic people and finding more down-to-earth friends has made it easier to get off the hedonic treadmill and focus on saving money. 

Redefine Success 

One of the reasons I used to be materialistic was because I thought having lots of material possessions signified success. Buying a big house and a fancy car indicated that you “made it.” It can be difficult to redefine your ideas of success because you feel like you’re giving up on the American Dream. But I’ve learned that chasing after that materialistic version of success will only lead to debt and financial instability. 

Giving into the hedonic treadmill meant I was never satisfied with what I had. There was always another destination to visit or a new gadget to buy. If you base your self-worth and sense of achievement on the things you own, you’ll never have enough. Instead of basing my success on my belongings, I focus on other indicators of a rich life like my relationships, my hobbies, and my overall happiness. Learning to be grateful for my blessings and figuring out my own version of the American Dream has helped me achieve financial stability. 

Don’t Rely on Extrinsic Motivators 

Many Americans are extrinsically motivated, which means their drive to succeed comes from the anticipation of a reward. That’s why I believe our society has become so focused on material goods. We’re all trying to treat ourselves for our hard work as a way to motivate ourselves to succeed. 

You’ll have an easier time saving money if you figure out how to become intrinsically motivated, which means your drive to succeed comes from within. If you derive satisfaction from a job well done instead of external rewards like a nice house or a fancy car, you’ll naturally become less materialistic. 

I’ve realized it’s easier to motivate myself intrinsically and take pride in my work when I love my job. That’s why I decided to pursue freelance writing instead of a higher paying career. If I’m miserable at work, I’m more likely to need external rewards to motivate myself to keep pushing forward, which causes me to overspend. 

I’m also motivated by my family because I want to be able to take care of them. Praise from clients gives me a boost as well. Finding a source of motivation outside of money and possessions will help you become less focused on material goods. 

Lower Your Standards 

Another cause of my materialism was high standards. My parents enjoyed the finer things in life like shopping at Whole Foods and staying in five-star hotels. Although I’m grateful for those experiences, it gave me unrealistic expectations of adult life. I realized I had to lower my standards if I wanted to achieve financial stability. 

Many Americans have gotten used to a high standard of living. Eating out once a week and going on two or three vacations a year has become the norm. But previous generations didn’t attend lots of concerts and buy name-brand clothing. They had lower expectations and didn’t use consumer debt to live outside their means. 

As Dave Ramsey says, you have to “live like no one else” and adopt frugal habits to get out of debt and build wealth. It may sound harsh, but to become less materialistic, you have to lower your standards. I had to learn that I don’t always need the best of everything—sometimes the cheaper option works just as well. Although it can feel uncomfortable at first, you have to force yourself to shop at the discount grocery store or stay at an affordable motel. Eventually you’ll adjust and realize that you’re not missing out on much by cutting back and making more frugal choices. 

I’ve learned that luxury brands are usually overpriced because you’re paying for their reputation. High-end brands spend millions of dollars on advertising to maintain the illusion of exclusivity and make you pine for their products. Over the years, I’ve realized that you don’t need luxury cars and clothes to live a full life. You may not look as cool or feel as comfortable while driving a beater and wearing thrift store clothes, but you’ll still get where you need to go!

Do you have any tips on how to shift your mindset and become less materialistic? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Read More 

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