Bye Buy: The End of Consumerism as We Know It

*photo courtesy of
*photo courtesy of



Like the explosion of Krakatoa in 1883, the 2008 downturn of the economy was an event that sent ripples around the globe leaving almost no shore untouched. The spending habits of even the wealthy were changed forever. Fear and uncertainty gripped the world and many people simple stopped spending. Many of those affected, may have been unaware of world events and the big picture, but the influence was still there. Incomes dropped, businesses closed, empires crumbled, homes were lost, people were pulled out of retirement and forced back into the workforce.

Previous to the economic shock, many families had been doing well, and had become complacent about spending. Acts of casual spending like picking up the new red blender because it matched the new red mixer, were common. After 2008 many wouldn’t even consider the new red mixer, even if it was on a sale for a relatively great price. They simply wouldn’t spend unless it was absolutely necessary.

It went even further. Expenses tolerated without any thought, were suddenly being chopped from the budget, if there had even been a budget previously. How had that bottled water bill suddenly ballooned to $1000 a year? Why pay someone to cut your lawn? You needed the exercise anyway.

As the consumer slowly awoke from the nightmare,[Tweet “Many would never look at material wealth the same way.”] many would never look at material wealth the same way. For some they would simply spend less, and begin to pay down debt. For those who really took the time to reflect on their life and priorities, it went to a better place.

Life priorities changed. It wasn’t about the new boat, the pay raise, or more exotic vacation.

For many the priority became financial security, even at a standard of living which was not as extravagant as they had once expected. Happiness was more important. The shocks that came with the downturn did not bring happiness. A more minimalistic lifestyle, with more emphasis on family, friends and experiences, rather than more “stuff” would.

Not everyone learned the lessons of these resent years, but millions did, and they will never go back to careless, casual excess like they once did. They will no longer sacrifice they entire lives in the pursuit of a bigger bank account.

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  1. I left the UK in 2011, so had three years of living in the recession. Coming to Australia was quite bizarre: despite talk of the “GFC” (Global Financial Crisis), these guys have never had it so good. There’s still plenty of red kitchen accessory purchasing. And companies that mow other people’s lawns. The economy is starting to slow down here now but it’s not like the UK (or, I assume, the USA), but it still feels like the 80s mindset of money money money is strong…

    1. Very interesting. I wasn’t aware that Australia was insulated to that degree. Canadians felt it, but no where near what the US and Europe went through. I suspect that with the drastic drop in oil prices there will be some more people who get schooled in the dark side of consumerism.

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