is there a balance to materialism?

As we accumulate a lot of baby items, I wonder if it’s all necessary. I wonder if I need these name branded sheets from Pottery Barn (but they’re so soft!), or if the changing table has to be from a particular store or made of real wood. Yet, even as I question my materialistic desires, I still move forward and accrue these items and justify to Daniel and myself why we need everything. Further, I look in the nursery, our living room, and garage, and see scattered everywhere everyone’s generosity during this time and it overwhelms me. (Side note: Daniel and I never hosted a big event before, such as a wedding or bridal shower that brought together many people and gifts so this is the first time I/we are experiencing this). So although the showering of gifts makes me feel blessed because we are being provided for, at the same time I go back to my original question of: “Am I being too materialistic?” I always think of women/families in developing countries or even in the US, and their child/ren do not have as much as we have… baby booster seat, diaper pail, changing pad, etc. They seem to make it work, and their children (for the most part) become healthy, contributors to society. With all this said, I’ve embraced the fact that we are blessed, have many loving people in our lives, there are things we want that will make having a baby more convenient and living in comfort, and that I do like name branded things (and that’s okay). The twist I’ve sewn into this though is trying to find an opportunity to pay it forward; give back to another expecting mom that may need some essentials. So that’s what I’ve decided to do; donate extras I have, have ladies at my baby shower create cute onesies, and Daniel and I will contribute additional items. At least this way someone else will benefit from the generosity in our lives.

Does anyone else ponder this question? Do you have other viewpoints I should consider?

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About Reaksmey

hi :) i'm reaksmey (reeks-may) and I love to think, reflect, and grow. do you? my life includes a handsome husband and a lively infant. here's where i write about how i grow through life's ups and downs so that i can humbly encourage you daily.
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4 Responses to is there a balance to materialism?

  1. Kelly says:

    Hey Reaksmey! I’ve wondered the same things. And here’s my answer: American culture is highly individualistic; and as a result, mothers and fathers are left to raise their children all by themselves. You need all of those baby items to survive raising a baby between the two of you. Cultures that live in close communities don’t need convenience because they can pass off the kid/s to the available relative who lives in the house or next door. Maybe new and named brand isn’t so important, but whatever helps you get through the day without freaking out is a must!

    Reaksmey Reply:

    I like your insights about the individualistic vs collectivist cultures because it’s true. If we lived in the latter culture, there would be less “stuff” to have to accrue and people would share more. And, the “need” and urgency to have everything would be minimized.

  2. Betty says:

    The thing is, materialism isn’t about differentiating needs and wants, it’s about status. The 600 thread count bed sheets from Pottery Barn are no different nor necessarily better-quality than the sheets from overstock.com for half the price. People are paying for the name and the long-formed reputation behind the brand. Same reason why people spent thousands for a luxury designer handbag over a $50 flea market find. Speaking personally, sometimes I buy expensive stuff not because I have a particular need for it, but because I know I can afford it, and that gives me a sense of achievement and confidence. My theory is, if someone has worked hard to obtained financial security that enables enough cash flow to afford a high lifestyle, then by all means, live a high lifestyle. That is status, which can improve someone’s taste and knowledge on material goods, and can occasionally inspire and drive individuals to achieve financial freedom. That’s the optimistic thought of course.
    Materialism, in most cases, is linked to excessive spending over impulsive decision-making. We are open to too much media exposure and peer influence that can have negative impact on our lives. It’s like, “look at Kim Kardashian’s new sunglasses, oh I gotta have one too, even though I already have 10 similar ones”. That is beyond materialism, that’s just obsession, and without having control or finding the balance the consequence would be broke-ass bankruptcy. You are absolutely right, while I do not think it’s all that bad to be materialistic, I do believe it is important people be grateful for what they have and even their very existence. It’s much easier to find the balance when one appreciates life, and that is to giveback, donate, recycle, contribute, pass on, etc. :)

    Reaksmey Reply:

    I love your perspective! Thanks for sharing. I like that you noted the difference between intentionally purchasing quality items and the alternate route of being an “obsessed” materialistic person. I would like to move towards the former, which I am almost there. I don’t know if I’d call it status though. Maybe just being very intentional with having nice things because you value their quality, look, feel, and you’ve made a calculated decision to purchase it. Lastly, I like your last point of always find the opportunity to pay it forward with your nice things. I try to do that as often as possible too. You are great at it!

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