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To ask how important being materialistic is?

(20 Posts)
BarbieLovesKen Wed 19-Oct-11 20:04:08

Obviously the standard and "right" answer is that being materialistic is wrong. Material things shouldn't be important and we should all live on love and fresh air but really and truly is this realistic?

I often hear people say "money isn't everything, you know?" and I find myself subconsciously rolling my eyes as no, of course it's not - health and happiness is everything but surely if you're lucky enough to be healthy and have healthy dc then, in fact - yes - it's not everything but it's a lot

I ask this in a genuine way, as I'm young and fully accept that I don't know it all,may be getting it all wrong and not doing it right. My priorities could be completely ridiculous and wrong. I don't want to wake up in a few years and scream at myself for being quite so silly and would love to hear the opinions of those older and wiser than I am.

This all has being prompted by my return to work in 4 weeks time (from maternity leave) after having dc3. I was accepting it as something that simply had to be done but suddenly it hit me and i had a mild panic attack last night at the thoughts of leaving her as she is so, so young.

Through my tears last night, dh suggested I look for a four day week which made me feel so relieved and happy. I then had a look at the figures today and what it would mean for us and have realised that I just can't do it. I found myself thinking "We're already struggling. I can't put the financial burden all on dh and I'm just going to have to suck it up and get on with it"

Truth be told, although the recession has hit us hard, when I compare myself to those who really are struggling we're not. Having a good, hard look at myself; I'm materialistic. Simple as that. 

We're starting out in life really - it's supposed to be hard but we both work our bums off and have a plan that if we continue in this manner, in a few short years, our dc and us will have quite a comfortable lifestyle - should i cut back now, we wont achieve what we set out to do - i will be home more one day extra for but we will struggle for much, much longer. 

But which really is better for them? To see us more and have less? I really don't know if, upon reflection we've really got this wrong. I'm worried now. 

I read so much on here that people have cut back on almost all non necessities to spend more time with dc and I feel like I'm wrong but coming from a very loving but completely skint household, I know I would have preferred to see my mum less and not have life being such a struggle and a worry.

Just on a side note, we have excellent childcare arrangements in place. It's family based. Also, dh will collect them at 2.30 most days (me having dropped them at 9) and then I'll be home at 6. I don't work weekends and have 5 weeks holidays per year. Dh has 10. He works a hell of a lot at night but they're sleeping anyway. 

PointyBlackHat Wed 19-Oct-11 20:11:32

DH and I have always worked F/T and our DDs went into nursery ages 6 months because that was when the maternity leave/money ran out back then. No family to help with childcare, all living abroad, but it was fine.

But childcare was very expensive, I spent 3 years worrying at the end of every month whether we were going to go overdrawn. We were skint all the time - DH and I were not working for luxuries, but to pay the bills. There was nothing to cut back.

I think I probably was more materialistic back then than I am now - I learned to tell the things that really mattered from those that don't. I think that process will happen to you too, because you sound quite insightful and sensible. Once reality hits, you will adapt and you will come out of it less materialistic and hopefully also less financially squeezed.

The downside is that DH and I are now pretty much cheapskates - not that we are miserly or mean, but we don't replace things unless they have died (so still have a big fat TV smile, drive a 10yo car, own a lot of 2nd hand furniture). None of us wear expensive clothes - I think buying my DDs one party dress from Monsoon (which will have to last 2 years) is a major splurge. (I did it, though).

We have come out of it happy and able to enjoy life, and appreciate the material things that we do have. I think you will get there too.

Megatron Wed 19-Oct-11 20:17:26

I'm not materialistic at all. I used to be, when I was much younger but gradually I seem to have become less so, I'm not sure why.

It's nice to have nice things and sometimes I'll look at something and think 'Oooooh I'd love that' but then I forget about it. We are 'OK' financially, not wealthy but not in poverty either and I think we're lucky to be in that position.

Sometimes things are great, sometimes they're shit but I'm quite a content person these days I suppose.

mousesma Wed 19-Oct-11 20:17:43

I don't think you are being materialistic it doesn't sound like you are driven solely by the aquistion of money more like you want to put down solid foundations for the future security of your family.

Only you can know what is best for your family but I wouldn't be too influenced by what read you read about other families on here.

MrsHuxtable Wed 19-Oct-11 20:17:52

I'm reading "The Secret of Happyness" by the Dalai Lama right now. It's very enlightening and makes a lot of sense. He thinks that being materialistic will inevitably lead to unhappiness as no matter how much things you have, you'll always want an upgrade. Key is to appreciate what you have. I think a lot of unhappiness nowadays comes from people being manipulated into wanting more and more and at some point that's just not possible anymore.

BarbieLovesKen Wed 19-Oct-11 20:21:22

What a lively post pointy. thank you smile

I think if we'd waited to have dc older - when our careers were "made" and we had our home ready etc things would have being different but as I fell pregnant with dd1 at 19, we had to do things arseways and take the kids along with us (in starting up life) - we built our house at 21 and have both being slowly climbing the ladder work wise (me stopping to have 2 more wink) and studying late into the night with dc in tow...

I do worry we've got it wrong but also feel we owe them a certain standard of living

NinkyNonker Wed 19-Oct-11 20:23:40

I think materialism isn't about financial security (which is what you say you are after) but about the pursuit of 'things's and 'stuff'. Don't get me wrong, I love things and stuff, but not that much any more and I wouldn't secrifice anything that mattered to me for it. If it became an end in itself then I would worry. But pursuing financial security for your family is just sensible I would say.

duvetdayplease Wed 19-Oct-11 20:24:02

IMO it is better to have less money and have more time. That is only my opinion. I was heavily influenced by a mother who worked in a hospice so I guess that's not a major surprise.

i would say if you can trim some off your income and afford the essentials easily, and I would say the essentials include a few savings and all insurances etc, then why not work less.

If you are working harder to pay for holidays, extra car, nicer clothes, to me that is a shame - but only because you yourself have said you don't want to leave your dc3 FT just at the moment.

BarbieLovesKen Wed 19-Oct-11 20:34:23

Thank you all- some very interesting points.

I wonder will it wear off. I dont know.

Things and stuff - no. It's definitely not that- as pointed out by most of you- it's financial security we're looking for. We don't have any desire to be mega wealthy but hope to be quite comfortable - that we wouldn't have to worry about paying the mortgage at all for instance.

We don't spend on ourselves and refuse point blank to spoil dc - we do however have a nice, quite big house which is important to us - maybe it's my own insecurities deep down - I grew up in a teeny, old cottage and was embarrassed to have friends over as a kid. Dh wants them all to have their own bedrooms (which they do) as he hated sharing with his 3 brothers.

Holidays area factor if I'm honest, we adore travelling and hope to get into a position to take a month off each summer and show dc the world.

We also want to be able to afford university fees quite easily etc...

But I'm not sure if I still have a childish view on all of this and dc would really be better with seeing me more (I say me because the way dh works, he sees them a lot)

Putrifyno Wed 19-Oct-11 20:35:51

Since moving abroad, we pay more tax, but we have a nicer house - dd can play outside. I pay for dd's activities but have little money to spend on clothes for me. We have a holiday every year, but our sofa etc is 10 years old. We both work FT but I would say that our priority now is having quality time with dd, and that dd has the best possible opportunities when we are at work and can't be with her.

STUFF isn't that important really. I used to spend money on perfume and sunglasses etc. I thought nothing (once upon a time) of buying dh an xbox or concert tickets as a "surprise". No more.

amicissima Wed 19-Oct-11 20:37:01

It's a huge question. I think it varies not only from person to person, but also, as you seem to suspect, according to where you are in your life.

I try to keep in mind how I might feel when I'm a Crabbit Old Woman sitting in my Nursing Home, chumbling my dentures and looking back over my life. Will I wish I had spent more time on my career, with the DCs, with DH, with my friends, on myself? Will I think we didn't really need all the things we had or be glad we enjoyed what we had? Will I wish we had more money saved so I could be in a better Nursing Home or think that a cheaper option wouldn't be appreciably worse? (And, of course, none of us know if we'll die promptly or need years and years of nursing.)

Sorry, not much help. I think whatever you do there will be times when you feel regret. You can only do your best in the circumstances you find yourself.

LingDiLong Wed 19-Oct-11 20:45:15

I agree with the others, I think you are talking about financial security rather than materialism. And I envy you hugely! You sound like you have a good balance actually, the children have family based childcare and one of their parents is home with them nice and early and you have plenty of holidays. I think you have to remember that not many people are lucky enough to find that kind of balance. If I were to return to work full time then my children would be in full time, paid for childcare with no option for family help. My husband doesn't have any option to finish early either. So for US to get the kind of financial security you are aiming for there would be (in my eyes) too much of a sacrifice in terms of family life. Neither of us would see the kids much during the week and we wouldn't even earn enough money to see a substantial difference in our lifestyle by the time we'd paid for childcare. So when others (like me) are cutting back on non-necessities it's because the other option for them is usually far worse than your situation as a working mum. I don't think you have anything to feel guilty about...

wicketkeeper Wed 19-Oct-11 20:52:27

Money can't buy you happiness - but it's bloody difficult to be happy without it.

PointyBlackHat Wed 19-Oct-11 20:56:10

I don't think wanting a secure roof over your heads is materialistic, I think that's natural. Travelling - well, that's important too, but you can always start small and work your way up. I think big, long exotic trips are better with older DCs too, when they can handle long journeys better. Mine are 8 and 10 - we really enjoy showing them all the really good bits of the UK (I am Dutch, DH is American so the UK is there for the exploring and not to be taken for granted). When they're out of before- and after school childcare, that money will go towards travel.

Uni fees - we will be able to help, but not to cover all of it and we do feel bad about that, DDs will probably end up with some student debt but help with house buying from us too.

Lastly on the point about the DCs needing to see more of you - it sounds like your DH does lots of the childcare due to the hours you both work. Ask yourself this - is the time he spends with them somehow less important that it would be if you were spending it with them, just because you are their mum? I really don't think it is, it just isn't the accepted model of how things are. I'll bet you make your time with them really count. It's normal to want more time with your DCs, but this way you will really appreciate what you do have. I have friends who don't work - they tell me they find the long summer holiday a real trial. I really appreciate it - take the bulk of my leave during that time and have a ball doing stuff with the DDs, and never get bored of it.

Silver linings are everywhere, you just have to look for them. And you will be fine, you sound like a lovely family.

BarbieLovesKen Wed 19-Oct-11 20:56:15

Ling - thank you so much. You're post made me feel more grateful and quite lucky and I'm surprised (and happy) you think we've a good balance as when posting, I half expected to be flamed for putting work at such an important level in our life.

(oh also, we do pay €900 per month on childcare- it's exceptional care though and my aunt and uncle have to make a living smile)

SootySweepandSue Wed 19-Oct-11 21:10:30

You could try to work less for say 1-2 years and see how it goes? Depending on your career, of course, and how easy it would be to get back to a FT position.

I'm having 3-4 years out from work which I manage via savings and cutting back massively. I just think I spent my 20s spending all my money on whatever (travelling, high rents, handbags etc) and I just think it's only a few years till my daughter is at school, so my relative poorness is temporary and worth it for all the cuddletime. I've found the financial change quite gradual and I've hardly noticed it. I get a real buzz out of getting bargains now too which is quite sad...

CailinDana Wed 19-Oct-11 22:12:04

It totally varies from person to person IME. I get no satisfaction at all from spending money. The only thing I really spend money on is coffee and food. I rarely buy clothes or shoes and I never buy books or CDs, I just don't enjoy it. So for me as long as the bills are paid and I have a bit left over for savings extra money does nothing for me. I don't work but I think if I did most of my money would go into savings and the rest would go on childcare. So we would have a better nest egg but nothing much else to show for it, so for me working is a bit pointless when I prefer to stay at home with my DS. Luckily DH feels the same way.

If cutting down on work would make you feel less secure and cause you worry then there's no point in doing it. Like others have said, you seem to have quite a good balance and as long as you're happy with it, that's great. However, if time passes and you genuinely feel you're missing out too much on your kids' lives then I would say you should seriously consider cutting back. The way I see it, you can earn money at any time (my gran got her first job at 50, after my grandad died) but your children are only young once and that is time you can never get back.

lesley33 Thu 20-Oct-11 01:01:47

Okay I am 47 so a few years under my belt as it were. Money is important if it means:
1. You don't have to ration heat/hot water
2. You can eat a reasonable standard of food
3. You are not too worried if an unexpected purchase comes up e.g. kids losing their winter coat
4. You can afford at least small treats
5. You can live somewhere you like and have reasonable neighbours
6. You can afford a night out or day trips every so often
7. You can pay for the basics with your DCs including xmas and birthday presents without too much problem

Money isn't important to:
1. Buy latest gadgets
2. Afford flash presents or clothes for DCs
3. Afford expensive car, etc, etc

Its the everyday things money matters for.

The other things that matter a lot are:

1. Good relationship with DP
2. Time spent with DCs that you actually all enjoy
3. Good friends or family members where you can support each other and enjoy being in each others company.
4. Some sense of achievement. Can get it many ways - through work,kids, volunteer work, restoring a diplidated house, etc. But goals that lead to a sense of achievement do I think help make people happy.
5. Time spent doing things you enjoy whether reading, gardening, playing sport, etc.

Health makes a big difference - but we don't always have control over that.

Good luck!

TheBrideofFrankenstein Thu 20-Oct-11 01:17:09

Agree with Lesley. OP, you don't sound very materialistic. It just sounds like you don't want to go through life with your arse falling out of your trousers, and let's face it, who does?

It's about finding a balance between financial security and chasing pointless status symbols

eg. My car is currently in the garage and needs 2 new brake discs. I'm happy to admit that I'm glad I don't need to worry about how I'm going to pay the mechanic, but at the same time, I don't feel the need to kill myself/Dh working so we can trade up for Ferrari.

You sound like you and DH have got it sorted with work, childcare, and your own house at 21. I'm sure you set a great example to your kids.

cory Thu 20-Oct-11 08:41:27

Another voice for Agree with Lesley.

What is bad for a child ime is living with high stress levels. What that means in material terms is going to differ from family to family. Some people need very little to ward off stress, others need to get to a certain level of security and then they are fine. And then there are people who never feel they have enough, who always need to feel more secure and have more guarantees because they are insecure in themselves.

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