Author Topic: "How my hippie parents turned me into a consumer"  (Read 5850 times)

galliver

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"How my hippie parents turned me into a consumer"
« on: November 20, 2013, 05:02:48 PM »
Actually, fake-out. ;) This is a story of a (slow) Mustachian 180. Or maybe 360. Anyway it was an interesting read. But you have to read to the end! I almost posted it on "Mustachianism Around the Web," but I think here gets better discussion.

http://www.salon.com/2011/01/20/hippie_mom_daughter_confesses/

the fixer

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Re: "How my hippie parents turned me into a consumer"
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2013, 05:24:48 PM »
Evergreen is like the hippie capital of the world. I'm wondering why she would go to school there if she was so against her parents' ways...

Nancy

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Re: "How my hippie parents turned me into a consumer"
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2013, 05:33:59 PM »
Excellent read (and definetly Mustachianism around the web)! Her mom is a total badass.  I can understand how being so different from all her friends would push the daughter to embrace mainstream consumerism early in her life- thinking that if she just bought Lisa Frank binders like everyone else, she'd be happy and no longer feel the shame of poverty. I had the opposite experience where my parents' rampant consumerism turned me into a frugal person who dislikes waste and shopping.

I'm intrigued by the traveling compost container and might give it a go.

olivia

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Re: "How my hippie parents turned me into a consumer"
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2013, 06:02:43 PM »
Awesome article!  I don't blame her for her first 180 towards consumerism-it must have been hard to be so different as a kid. 

LRS

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Re: "How my hippie parents turned me into a consumer"
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2013, 11:54:29 PM »
Great read.

Can't help but wonder what steps we can take to avoid driving our own children into the cozy, vampiric arms of consumerism. It seems like the parents described in the article were both (1) pretty extreme in their frugality, for a mixture of ideological and pragmatic reasons, and (2) insensitive to the social punishment that their daughter's peer group would impose for these extreme frugality behaviors.

Trying to keep your kids' friends impressed is a losing game for sure, but surely there's a balance to be struck between minimizing your family's consumption and giving your children a high quality of life that won't subject them to the constant contempt and disgust of their classmates.

The story seems to end well, with the author beginning to appreciate her family's badassity, but I have to believe there's a gentler and less miserable way of getting there than the path that she took. Thoughts?

galliver

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Re: "How my hippie parents turned me into a consumer"
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2013, 08:13:04 AM »
Great read.

Can't help but wonder what steps we can take to avoid driving our own children into the cozy, vampiric arms of consumerism. It seems like the parents described in the article were both (1) pretty extreme in their frugality, for a mixture of ideological and pragmatic reasons, and (2) insensitive to the social punishment that their daughter's peer group would impose for these extreme frugality behaviors.

Trying to keep your kids' friends impressed is a losing game for sure, but surely there's a balance to be struck between minimizing your family's consumption and giving your children a high quality of life that won't subject them to the constant contempt and disgust of their classmates.

The story seems to end well, with the author beginning to appreciate her family's badassity, but I have to believe there's a gentler and less miserable way of getting there than the path that she took. Thoughts?

Definitely (on everything!). I think that was the main take-away of this essay. I find that this is a case of toeing the line between frugal and cheap. Frugal is smart, whereas cheap causes significant discomfort and social stigma. The exact lines kind of depend on the neighborhood/environment, so I guess it's important to choose that well (I'm sure some rich neighborhoods have truly ridiculous standards).

I think the most important thing in bringing kids around to frugal habits is showing them the benefits and letting them make the choices...e.g. "we can get this shiny new lunchbox, or you can use the one you have and we can go to the zoo" or something. Furthermore, I remember reading (on MMM?) that creativity can make up for a "lack" of consumerism. Decorate that yogurt container-turned-lunchbox. Make a cute, one-of-a-kind lunchbag out of fabric scraps and worn clothes. My mom patched up blankets with applique. It was awesome. Basically avoid making them feel like they can't have nice things, I guess.

Another/additional option might be an allowance. Sometimes you don't know how silly it is to spend your money on something until you do and realize it's not all it's cracked up to be!

Angelfishtitan

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Re: "How my hippie parents turned me into a consumer"
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2013, 10:24:36 AM »
I think the most important thing in bringing kids around to frugal habits is showing them the benefits and letting them make the choices...e.g. "we can get this shiny new lunchbox, or you can use the one you have and we can go to the zoo" or something. Furthermore, I remember reading (on MMM?) that creativity can make up for a "lack" of consumerism. Decorate that yogurt container-turned-lunchbox. Make a cute, one-of-a-kind lunchbag out of fabric scraps and worn clothes. My mom patched up blankets with applique. It was awesome. Basically avoid making them feel like they can't have nice things, I guess.

Another/additional option might be an allowance. Sometimes you don't know how silly it is to spend your money on something until you do and realize it's not all it's cracked up to be!

Agree fully with this and LRS's post. The nice thing about being frugal and/or "green" is it really isn't that hard to do without even appearing to be doing it (unless you are in the super high brow neighborhoods, in which case why are you even there?). I buy very little that gets thrown away, all my scraps go into a barely noticeable composter out back for my garden, my house is furnished but not overbriming with chotchkies, and even like the parents I reuse plastic containers that some of my food comes in. Even some of the best items I have received like a patchwork quilt that we use every day shows a great use a reuse while still adding value.

Mumintheburbs

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Re: "How my hippie parents turned me into a consumer"
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2013, 09:44:45 PM »
What a great piece. My life very much parallels the author's story. I Found my parents extremely embarrassing growing up and I definitely enjoyed a period of the easy consumerist lifestyle when I first earned a full time wage. Now that I have 3 children I'm really trying to revisit the values I want to pass on to them. It's not easy for me. I am still working out how to strike a balance between not having the kids suffer for my beliefs while trying not to have them turn into super consumers. Public school seems to help : )

MoneyCat

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Re: "How my hippie parents turned me into a consumer"
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2013, 06:18:48 AM »
     I grew up poor and like the author I rebelled by becoming consumerist using easy credit as a young adult.  I felt like the world owed it to me because I had gone without many things (and faced a lot of bullying and humiliation because of it) as a child.  As an adult, I recognize that my parents reused wrapping paper and composted and cooked every meal at home and mended clothing because we needed to do that to survive.  As an adult, I have learned that if I emulate at least some aspects of their frugality while having a more comfortable income, I can still thrive while setting myself up for success because I won't have to fear the arrival of a surprise bill or face a sudden emergency.
     A lot of the Mustachian lifestyle involves self-empowerment through the acquisition of skills and the confidence of knowing that you can handle problems by yourself.  Independence is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and anti-consumerism is an important part of achieving it.

imustachemystash

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Re: "How my hippie parents turned me into a consumer"
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2013, 07:05:47 PM »
I liked that article, thanks for posting.  I'm glad she had a chance to try both types of lifestyles and figured out what works best for her.

MrsPete

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Re: "How my hippie parents turned me into a consumer"
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2013, 11:58:10 AM »
I grew up in circumstances not unlike those of the article's author:  second-hand everything, rummaging for any usable this-or-that, stretching dollars. 

Here's the odd thing:  Out of five children, four of us grew up to be relatively thrifty, though we are a good bit more moderate than our parents -- we all have more money available, and the four of us have found a pretty good balance between paying for necessities, saving, and the occasional splurge.  The fifth, the baby of the family, turned out quite the opposite:  Once she was out of school, she decided to throw herself the childhood she never had.  The rest of us went to college; she started, but couldn't see past a paycheck on Friday -- could never sacrifice today's pleasures for stability in the future.  Money runs through her fingers.  As soon as she receives a paycheck, it's gone -- part to creditors, part on things like clothes, costume jewelry and manicures.  She has loads of "toys" -- video games, collectibles, and so forth.  Savings?  Nope?  A home of her own?  No.  Not too far removed from the article's author, huh? 

As for my youngest sibling, we all worry because she's also the only one with no education (well, I mean beyond high school) and no benefits (and she has an ongoing medical condition that requires regular treatment).  She works as waitress, and she's already complaining that it's becoming physically difficult.  We are all worried about what'll happen in another decade or so when the work available for her is beyond her physical ability.  Does she worry?  No, she goes out to dinner and orders drinks and dessert.   



JennieOG

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Re: "How my hippie parents turned me into a consumer"
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2013, 06:55:09 AM »
There is definitely a balance.  I am a single mother who doesn't have a lot of money, but I manage to save quite a bit.  I also have two young kids (5 and 9).  I figure, since I made a choice to send them to public school, I at least have a responsibility to make them presentable enough there that they are not an easy target for teasing.  I buy them nice backpacks (the good ones last three school years) and fashionable coats a little too large so we can get at least two seasons out of them.  Two decent pairs of shoes each are also important.  I then buy the rest of their clothes at Old Navy type sales.  They don't have a ton of clothes but can at least get through the week without wearing the same outfit twice.  I find Old Navy type clothes are just as cheap as our local thrift store, and locally, we can't get anything at the thrift store that isn't stained or disgusting. 

It may sound petty, but I very much remember being a kid and when someone was wearing terrible clothes other mean kids really called them on it.  It's hard enough to be a kid without going into school looking like a freak.

MrsPete

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Re: "How my hippie parents turned me into a consumer"
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2013, 07:21:10 AM »
There is definitely a balance.  I am a single mother who doesn't have a lot of money, but I manage to save quite a bit.  I also have two young kids (5 and 9).  I figure, since I made a choice to send them to public school, I at least have a responsibility to make them presentable enough there that they are not an easy target for teasing.  I buy them nice backpacks (the good ones last three school years) and fashionable coats a little too large so we can get at least two seasons out of them.  Two decent pairs of shoes each are also important.  I then buy the rest of their clothes at Old Navy type sales.  They don't have a ton of clothes but can at least get through the week without wearing the same outfit twice.  I find Old Navy type clothes are just as cheap as our local thrift store, and locally, we can't get anything at the thrift store that isn't stained or disgusting. 

It may sound petty, but I very much remember being a kid and when someone was wearing terrible clothes other mean kids really called them on it.  It's hard enough to be a kid without going into school looking like a freak.
Mean kids are mean kids, and they pick on those whom they perceive as weak no matter whether they're dressed nicely or not.  As a teacher, I've seen plenty of well-dressed kids who might as well have targets on their backs.  Instead of focusing on their outer appearance, put the effort into helping them become strong individuals who can stand up against the mean kids. 

Also, if you've looked at thrift stores and have been disappointed, take a look again.  I've found loads of things brand-new with tags and things that look like they've been worn only a couple times.  Spread your net more broadly.  If you have teen girls, look for a Plato's Closet.  Try the Goodwill on the "good side of town".  Look for church consignment sales -- I used to do really well at those when my kids were small.  I never, ever buy Old Navy because it falls apart so quickly, but I can almost always find them simple classics like Lands End on eBay.