Breaking Free from Consumer Mentality: A Guide to Building a Healthier Wallet

You may have heard the term “consumer mentality” at some point. Many of us, whether we are aware or not, have this mindset.

It’s not surprising that we value material goods so much, since advertisements have been ingrained into our DNA since the day we were born.

Forbes estimates that digital marketing experts believe most Americans are exposed daily to between 4,000 and 10,000 ads.

As someone who is employed in full-time marketing, I can see the importance of advertising. However, it also seems to be getting out of control.

But I don’t think it is the whole story.

Table of Contents
What is Consumer Mentality?
Investor Mentality: A Transition
How to Develop an Investor mentality
Final Thoughts
What is Consumer Mentality?
Most people can agree that the consumer mentality has a negative connotation. What does this mentality really mean?

There are two aspects to the consumer’s mentality.

Part one of my life is all about having and owning material things or being constantly consumed by the latest and greatest.

Otherwise, we will lose interest quickly. This leads to a vicious cycle where you spend money constantly in order to satisfy your consumption desires.

This quote, or variations thereof (it appeared in the film Fight Club as a variation below), is more relevant today than ever.

Will Rogers: “Most people don’t earn enough money to buy the things they want or to impress others they don’t like.”

It’s not just to fill the void when you get bored of these things, but also for a few different reasons:

Keep up with the Joneses
Instant gratification is what I need (I want it now!)
Show off your stuff to others
Oniomania is the addiction to shopping and spending.
The second part of the consumer mindset is that you only want to consume and forget that you also need to produce.

This means that you are not restricting your spending, and have no idea where the money should be spent, other than on living expenses, paying bills and purchasing assets with a depreciating value for temporary satisfaction.

Why Should you stop consuming?
It’s not that you should stop buying, as people who buy keep the economy going.

Spending and consumption keep businesses running and money machines turning. Because I am not an economist, I will also refrain from claiming to know how the economy functions.

Why not treat yourself every now and then? You have the right to spend your hard-earned cash on something you enjoy or upgrade your possessions.

Not everyone has to live a minimalistic lifestyle in order to be financially savvy. Prioritizing your spending is the key.

What I know is that personal finances are pretty bad in America. I believe that a large part of the problem (outside of student debt and rising inflation), is a consumer mentality.

Just look at these statistics on personal finances to get an idea of the situation.

Even those who do, save a small amount of their income. (CNBC)
The Federal Reserve reports that 43% of Americans borrow to cover the shortfall. (Federal Reserve)
Investor Mentality
Investor Mentality: A Transition
Extreme consumerism can cause serious financial problems. It could be excessive consumer debt, overspending, not saving for an emergency fund, or not planning for the future.

It’s also hard to break the consumer mentality, especially if it has been a long-term habit.

You’ll need to work hard to change your consumer mentality, but a shift to an investor mindset will help you build financial stability and wealth.

It can be a quick process or it may take longer if you have relapsed into bad habits. You’re ahead of most people if you make any effort and realize that your consumer mentality can be a problem.

Why is it important to adopt an investor’s mentality?

You can build up and save money by fattening your wallet or bank account.
Eliminates high-interest consumer debt
Creates more financial stability
Building long-term wealth is important for your future
You can get out of financial trouble with our help
How to Develop an Investor mentality
Spending money moderately is fine, as I have stated. Not everyone has to be a guru or expert investor.

You should adopt an investor mentality in the broadest sense, which means to reduce your consumption while increasing production of assets. This will help you to build wealth.

As I worked to fix my mindset, I found myself stuck between a investor and consumer mentality.

I wasn’t a big consumer (I still like nice things, but don’t buy them for myself) but neither did I approach things with an investment mindset (other that contributing to a basic retirement plan).

There is nothing special or rocket science in the following. It’s straight-forward advice, just like most of my articles. These were the steps I took to develop a mentality of an investor.

Make it a priority. If you do not make the change, it will never happen. When you decide to become an investor, you have to change your mindset. You can’t just do it passively and expect good results. You need to be motivated and work hard to achieve your goals.

You must first determine where your money goes. Make a budget and use other tools to help you manage your finances. Also, keep track of the money that comes in and goes out. You can’t make any changes without a picture. You must manage your finances precisely if you want to adopt an investor’s mindset.

Assess why you feel a need to consume. You should also take a good, long look at yourself and determine why you are feeling the urge to consume. What emotions do you get from making purchases? What feelings do you have after making a purchase? What drives you to overconsume? Discover the reasons behind your consumer mindset. It won’t fix everything but it will help you to understand “why” you are evaluating.

Focus on your financial goals. If you set financial goals, and then focus on making them a reality, you can shape your investor mind. There is no guarantee, because you have to be committed to your goals and maintain a positive mentality. By setting goals, writing them out, and putting a plan into motion, you can stay on track and focussed.

Reading investing books is a great way to overcome the consumer mentality. They open your mind to new ideas and make it easier to learn good financial habits. Not all investing books can be difficult to understand or read. Rich Dad, poor dad is a great book to start out with. This simple yet informative book helped me to shift my mindset from a consumer mentality to one of an investor.

Ask yourself questions. In addition to the above, it’s important to start thinking like an investment and asking yourself questions about purchases. It won’t be a habit that you develop overnight. But make a note of it and practice. What am I talking about? Here are some examples.

Asking “How much will it cost” is not the best question. Instead, ask “What is my rate of return?”
“I cannot afford not to invest”, instead of “I cannot afford to invest”, should be stated as “I simply can’t.”
Instead of saying “I’ll worry later”, say “I will set myself up so that I won’t have any worries later”.
You should say, “Look what money can do for you” instead of “What can I buy with my money?”
These are only a few examples. You should always approach your purchases and money in a strategic way, and consider how you will benefit from it over time.

Final Thoughts
The aggressive title “Death to Consumer Mentality” is meant to grab your attention. It’s possible that I am using a clickbait title because I do not think that ALL consumption should be eliminated.

But I do find that our society has a problem with a consumer-based mentality. We need to change this into an investor-based mentality. Our society’s financial problems and certain data are enough to support that statement.

Even in a broader sense, I understand that not everyone is able to invest at this time.

We all have an opportunity to get off the consumer mentality, and onto a path that leads to financial stability and growth.

It’s also not necessary to feel like you have to become the next Warren Buffett, or that buying anything for yourself is a bad idea. You should learn what makes you happy and how you can improve your financial situation.