I came across an article today about how yesterday's luxuries have become today's necessities. This article was specifically about Australian children taking things like their own bedrooms and a personal TV for granted. A couple of weeks ago, I read a very similar article about Australian households in general having a new norm of large LCD/Plasma TVs, several computers, dining out and overseas holidays. Both articles were basically talking about the same thing - Affluenza (the word was used in the article on children). The definition of it would be something like "succumbing to the inability to distinguish between what you want and what you need by buying extra of everything".
I like the sound of that word. AFFLUENZA. For example you could say "Oh, I'll have another iPad thanks. I'm down with a bad case of affluenza."
I don't think that I grew up with full blown affluenza but I definitely had everything I needed and a little more. Thankfully, I haven't developed affluenza during my adult years. Ask my friends and family and they'll tell you that one of the things I do best is talk myself out of buying anything. There isn't even a relationship between my spending habits and the amount of money I have in the bank. Its just chronic Savingitis.
Saving, re-using, hoarding and make-doing with everything. Its just how my mother taught me - not that she lived through the depression era or anything like that. Her mother did though..so, I guess I have watered down, third generation, depression era tendencies. I do have moments of frivolousness and splurging which are almost always followed by bouts of depression and more stringent budgetary measures.
Anyway, back to affluenza. I definitely don't think its great but at the same time, its not all bad if there are only one or two adults involved. Once children come into the picture, I feel that its important to create an environment that keeps their needs and wants simple. They are born with simple needs but very often, we, as parents, teach them to want more of the luxuries in life.
I have tried to do this by never buying anything (other than food) for Aaron or Adrian when they are around. Books and toys have just magically appeared over the years. This has helped to curb all "I want that toy" tantrum situation in the toy section. Those books and toys also only appear on very special occasions. As Aaron has grown older and knows more about money and its function, things are a little harder. Recently, he yelled out to a neighbor that we had to plant our own food because we didn't have enough money. Oops! I guess that came from me talking too much about how we can save heaps on grocery bills if we grew enough food. I don't want him to grow up feeling deprived but I want him to know that even if a person has money, they don't need to spend it on everything they like.