Are We Spoiled Because Our Luxury Baseline Has Changed?
"Our luxury baseline has changed."
This is one of those small quotes that stood out to me from The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money. The quote was in context to the fact that today's and tomorrow's kids have a different baseline for luxury. Their expectations of the world are completely different from ours. Most kids growing up today have everything at their fingertips. While we should be grateful for the new luxuries available today, we should continue to instill good values that allow ourselves and our kids to appreciate the simpler ways of doing things. This is the same for us adults too.
The New Normal
I'm not that old, but I grew up at the time when the internet was just ramping up. I convinced my parents to buy a computer in the mid-90s and we got online using the free AOL Dial-Up CDs. Those were the days. I didn't get a cell phone until I was in college at nineteen years old that I had to pay for myself. It was a different time and today I appreciate new tech, but I wonder how harmful our quick technological progress is to ourselves and our kids.
I don't mean to say that our kids should suffer, but that we should understand what it means to have a new baseline of luxury. What do we miss out on? What will our kids miss out on? How can they appreciate what they have now if they don't know any different?
It's funny to see those memes of "You Know You are Child of the 80s When" or "Remember The 90s" but it's important to appreciate what those times had to offer. Perhaps, we need to incorporate some of the old ways into our current existence. Our new normal and therefore our children's new normal is going to be vastly different and we need to plan for this.
We also have to take into account that our experiences, no matter what they are normalizes pretty quickly, meaning we get used to things easily. That new car feels great, but sit in traffic a few days a week and it loses its uniqueness pretty quickly. Same with a toy or new gadget. We get used to things quickly.
Why Downgrading Can Be Good
I'm loving this piece from the Four Pillar Freedom titled "The Best Upgrade is a Downgrade." The guest author, Cubert of Abandoned Cubicle went on to describe why downgrading or never upgrading can be the best thing to do. Of course, every marketing ad out there will tell you that you need to get the latest model. The problem with this is that you will constantly be chasing the next best thing. It also means that with each upgrade, you face new challenges. He cites the Keurig. Convenient, yet very wasteful. It also now contains so many parts to break and it becomes harder to fix. Same with the new washing machine models. They are so advanced it can take a few minutes to figure out how to wash one load of clothes with all of the options.
We need to understand that while the latest version of something may be a luxury, it may not be something that we truly need. This really goes back to the idea of need vs. want. Marketing will tell us that we need something, but the reality is that most of these things are wants. Without it, we will survive.
I have to relate this to a quick experience my husband and I recently had. We are in the process of looking to buy a home. The property that we looked at had one of those fridges with a water and ice dispenser. This is a luxury to us as we've always just used filtered tap water. The problem we had was that this fridge wasn't even hooked up so it needed to have a water line routed to get it to work properly. So we asked to get the fridge replaced with a simpler model. It was a strange request to downgrade the fridge, but our thinking was that it would save us the headache of needing to connect a water line and it would reduce the size of the fridge overall allowing us to reclaim more kitchen space. Plus, we weren't used to it, so our baseline normal didn't include this and why mess with something that worked.
For many of us, we don't live in a world of scarcity. Tap a button and we can get anything delivered instantly to our door. This seems like a great thing, but it doesn't teach us patience. In fact, not experiencing scarcity means we get used to instant gratification and continuously expect it. Sometimes, we may even feel sad when we don't get what we want right away, but before Amazon came into the picture, our ancestors had to wait to get things. They had to spend hours hunting to get food instead of heading to the corner deli. They had to save money to buy a house instead of using credit.
The thing with scarcity is that it makes us appreciate what we get. Lucy over at Let Luc Finance says that "if it's routine, it's not a treat!" I wholeheartedly agree. We need the treats once in a while so that we can truly appreciate things and experiences.
What Should We Do Then
So what can we do to appreciate our current baseline? We can't change the time in which we are born, but we do need to appreciate some of the things from the past so that we can better appreciate things today and tomorrow.
Learn to Live Without. This means curtailing impulse buys and being very intentional about your things and experiences.
Opt for Free Luxuries. Luxury will mean differently for most people so think outside the box. Luxury can be being offline for a day. Luxury can be time with your kids. Luxury can be time to spend outdoors. Re-think what luxury means for you. It doesn't always have to cost a lot of money for it to be luxury.
Invest in Quality. In the end too, if you are going to splurge, splurge on the good stuff. Instead of buying those cheap pints of ice cream, make it a treat and experience and visit your favorite, local, organic ice cream shop. Splurge on the decadence of a double scoop and savor it!
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others. Do you. Do what makes you happy. Do what allows you to sleep well at night.
Everything is good...in moderation.
Has your baseline changed recently? How did you manage it?