Frugal Living vs. Consumerism

DSC_0117I chanced upon GuyNamedDave‘s blog (via and read his post: 100 Thing Challenge

I love his idea of a 100 Thing Challenge. 100 personal things that are essential in your life, and hopefully you won’t need anything else. Can you do it? I’ll be working on my list.

Living the Frugal Life

From around 2000 to the present I’ve focused (many times out of necessity) on living a simple and frugal lifestyle, and exploring ideas on how to save money. Even when it came to fancy extravagant vacations, whether it was Europe, or Hawaii or Yosemite, my family has made only one trip per year.

We are constantly in the process of selling much of our personal belongings, keeping only essentials. At least that is the goal. The key phrase is:

Simplicity and frugal living.

Let’s Call It What It Is, Blatant Consumerism

Another goal of this lifestyle change is to fight against blatant consumerism. We are constantly bombarded with consumer electronics, new cars, new mobile phones, new clothes, new service!

We are constantly being tempted to upgrade to the latest new thing, whether it’s a brand shiny new laptop or a glossy new iPhone. 3G technology!

“We have the latest thing now, it’s faster, shinier, and meaner!”

It’s no wonder that we are a nation hugely in debt! WE THE PEOPLE are a nation of vast debt!

Another thing that usually “gets us” is our tendency to become the guy or gal on the block with the latest gadget, the latest gaming console, the latest Home Theater system. See the psychology in that? The big corporations pushing the latest toys are playing us consumers against each other… in a “keeping-up-with-the-Jones” fast-paced game of “let’s see who has the latest, shiniest, new TOY!”

Perceived Value

People, we truly ARE bombarded by this type of consumerism, so much so that it has brainwashed many of us into thinking that we constantly need something new and expensive. I want to emphasize “the expensive” because many times we are coaxed into thinking that the more expensive items translate into “quality”.

I have two words to say to you, “Perceived Value”!

Sure, you tend to get what you pay for, as they say. And people will pay that “extra” for the security of getting something of great quality that will last. Though, in reality, the manufacturing cost to make the item was never that much to begin with.

Let’s take computers,for example. People can buy PCs that are custom-built for less than $500, give or take a few hundred. These are the unbranded PCs many of us use at high schools and community colleges. It IS possible to put together a computer for around that much. Yet, we are seduced into thinking that we need that brand new, big ticket item. I’m not mentioning any names, but I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. The super cool looking thing that changes its Operating System every year so that you have to buy the newest upgrade.

Take the 100 Thing Challenge

And you begin to wonder if the big software companies are in cahoots with the big computer companies, creating bigger applications so that we would have to buy the latest new computer anyway because you’d never be able to use it on your old 5 year old PC.

Anyway, I challenge everyone to think more frugally, to be able to get by on less, and not be seduced by the “dark side” of consumerism. Because, you don’t need that closet with 200 pairs of shoes in them, or a TV in every room, or 2 closets worth of clothing.

Take the 100 Thing Challenge and see if you can come up with only 100 things that you need in life, and sell everything else. Can you do it?



Carlos Rull

Carlos Rull is a musician living in the San Diego area. His interests include Yoga, Eastern Philosophy, Zen Buddhism, and Gardening. He plays drums, piano, and composes New Age & Ambient music, and his albums are available on iTunes and

7 thoughts on “Frugal Living vs. Consumerism

  • Saturday September 26, 2009 at 9:52 am

    I've thought about taking the 100 thing challenge… I keep telling myself, “Nah, I can't do that!”

    But then I find myself wondering if I actually could. I think it's going to come down to where I actually just try it (the challenge).

  • Saturday September 26, 2009 at 10:53 am

    @Patrick: you should try it. i just started my list and i confess that the first 20 items were pretty expensive items… digital camera, grand piano, drumset, laptop… expensive yet essential… but, i think it would be interesting to complete my list and then perhaps (ideally) sell things i don't need.

    and of course, these would be your own personal items. i consider other things as community property, like televisions, home theaters, etc…

  • Thursday October 1, 2009 at 6:28 am

    lol. well it's the culture… nowadays of iPhones, gadgets, computers, iPods… but those things are necessities too.

  • Friday October 9, 2009 at 9:58 am

    If people will just stop and listen, they will find out it does not take a lot to live a good life. It's one thing to keep up with the times and quite another to keep up with the Jones's.

  • Friday October 9, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    If people will just stop and listen, they will find out it does not take a lot to live a good life. It's one thing to keep up with the times and quite another to keep up with the Jones's.

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