Thursday, October 05, 2006

Things and consumerism.

I have said it before, this I know, but living in a consumer culture is always hard. Living in Singapore, where the consumerism is not only a way of life it is a hobby, is really hard.

How do you teach children not to expect new things every time a toy breaks. How do you teach them that a houseful of toys is still too many (even if they have less than friends?)

I just saw that the New Dream Org has posted a great brochure for free on their webpage about raising kids in a consumer culture.

You can download the brochure here.

For me it is a matter of reducing the amount of temptation-

1. No cable TV
2. No "Kids" magazines
3. Teaching family members about the types of gifts we want
4. Small family/close friend only birthday parties.

Then it is about teaching responsibility

1. While my kids are too young for allowance, they get "stars" when they do something like put away dishes. When the star sheet is full they get to buy one small present. (usually about 1 time every three months).
2. Teaching the kids that possessions need to be cared for and if it breaks you either fix it or do without.
3. Teaching values and honest money talk when the kids get older. I want to teach them about the time value of money and the ability to save. I wish I had learned this better as a kid-either it wasn't taught or I didn't get it.
4. I want them to save for college as soon as they are old enough to understand it.

This is way more important as we are paying for private school here in Singapore and our ability to save for college for them is well... not very high.

It is about choice. I choose to travel and spend my money on life experience, so when I don't have the big house or even a car, I need to remind myself this was my choice. I don't need to have a 5000 square foot house to be happy, my 1600 SQF 3 bedroom apartment should be enough.

Anyway, just some thoughts on consumerism today.

Now, the goal is to get to the grocery store and back today without buying more than just bacon and dried apricots.

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