Affluenza, derived by combining the words affluence and influenza has become the common term for those who over-indulge in consumer culture.
Numerous self-help books and support groups have emerged and many ideas are available to help you and your kids beat the affluenza bug, save money and spend more time together taking good care of earth and each other. Here’s just a few:
- Start a savings plan. Once you’ve figured out your monthly costs, take something from what’s left over and pay yourself first every payday. With the savings take a special vacation you and your family will always remember.
- Join a community garden and grow some of your own food with your kids to help.
- Kick the habit of tying your happiness to your buying pattern by learning what’s driving us to consume beyond our means. Hint: the TV lifestyle is not affordable to all.
- Turn off your TV for a week or for a while and use the time you free up (about 20 hours a week for the average Canadian) for other family fun, like rediscovering the pleasure of old fashioned board games, crafts, walks anywhere outside.
- Teach kids about the rewards of saving energy. Show them the difference between utility bills before and after attention is paid to turning off lights and using less heat and hydro. Spend the savings on a family treat.
- Learn about the trend towards more simple living. One income families are thriving in a two-income world by setting priorities around family time and community and recognizing that overtime income can be a prison of your own making.
- Show your kids the joys of shopping at second hand or thrift stores and yard sales.
- To preserve more time for your family, seek alternative work arrangements from your employer: working from home occasionally, working a compressed week (4- 10 hour days rather than 5- 8 hour days) or job sharing, if you can manage on less income.
- Try using less of more things. For example, if your kids throw clothes in the wash after wearing once, teach them to differentiate between must-launder and clothes they can wear again between washings.
- Share. Start a neighborhood swap of seldom-used toys and/or tools for the handy homeowner. Look for and use toy and tool lending libraries in your area.
- support financial literacy education within your local school system.
Remember, you can choose to control your time more and consume less. Start with buying when you need something and learning to ignore inducements to satisfy wants foisted on us by advertisers and others.
Affluenza - How to Be Successful and Stay Sane. By Oliver James. Vermillion: 2007
Affluenza: when too much is never enough. By Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss. Allen & Unwin: 2005
Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic. By John DeGraaf, David Waan, Thomas H. Naylor. Berrett-Koehler Publishers: 2001
Affluenza, the "disease" of modern over-consumption, that has been linked to serious health consequences, is treatable, if you believe in curing it yourself.
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