10 Signs Consumerism Is Consuming You

10 Signs Consumerism Is Consuming You

It’s difficult to avoid. It’s hard to ignore. And, unfortunately, it’s everywhere we look—consumerism. This ever-growing preoccupation with acquiring more and more things has reached new heights over the last few decades. And for some, consumerism is literally consuming them.

While all of us, at times, are tempted to jump on the consumerism fast-track, for some, it’s a dangerous train that is gaining speed towards an unfavorable outcome. If you’ve been wondering if consumerism is starting to consume you, here are 10 signs to watch out for:

  • 1. You Feel Discontent When You Can’t Buy Something

    1. You Feel Discontent When You Can’t Buy Something

    It’s perfectly normal to feel happy about something you’ve purchased. In fact, you should be thankful for the ways God has blessed you. But if discontentment persists every time you can’t buy something, consumerism might be consuming you.

    The thing is, consumerism does not bring lasting contentment. The momentary giddiness we feel when we buy something we’ve been wanting, quickly fades as the next “want” comes along. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he said this about contentment:

    I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:12

    Action Step: The next time a wave of discontentment washes over you, take a few moments to stop and thank God for what you already have. Then, go and enjoy those things with the ones you love.

    2. You Cannot Pass Up a Bargain

    Most of us love a good bargain. Especially when we’ve been waiting for the prices to drop on a planned purchase, looking for a bargain is a good thing. However, if you find that you are drawn towards every bargain you see, whether you need the item or not, consumerism might be consuming you.

    Here are a few things you can say to yourself the next time you’re tempted by an unnecessary bargain: 

    • There will be more sales down the road. I can wait.
    • This isn’t a need, it’s a want. I don’t need to buy this today.
    • I don’t really have a place for this right now. If I have a place or use for it down the road, I’ll buy it then.

    According to this post, The Shopper’s Brain on Bargains, consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow says this: What youre really hunting for is the thrill of a bargain, which is when I think a lot of consumers make mistakes.”

    Action Step: Resolve to stop letting consumerism consume you by passing up the next three bargains you see. You can do it!

  • 3. You Make Excuses for Your Purchases

    3. You Make Excuses for Your Purchases

    It’s easy to make excuses for consumerism, by justifying our reasons for making the purchase. See if any of these excuses ring true for you:

    “I’m buying this for someone else.”

    “I’ll never find this great of a deal again.”

    “I might really need this someday!”

    “I’ve worked hard. I deserve this.”

    “I’ll get my budget back on track after I buy this one more thing.”

    Unfortunately, making excuses for consumerism only makes the issue worse. Our justifications will keep us trapped in the cycle of buying more and more. Once we recognize our excuses, we can then begin to counteract them as they arise.

    Action Step: Check out this resource called “Stop Justifying Your Spending Yes’s.”

    4. You Always Want Bigger and Better

    Does it bother you to have outdated cars, furniture, or clothing? If so, consumerism might be consuming you. If you’re always wanting nicer things, take some time to figure out what’s driving you. Is your motivation to “keep up with the Joneses?” Or, does having the nicest things bring you a sense of security?

    Whatever your reasons for wanting bigger better things, remember that your security rests fully in God. Nothing on this earth can give you the peace and safety that God offers. Rest in His presence, and let go of your “more” mentality.

    For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 1 John 2:16 ESV

    Action Step: Ask God to help you view your belongings as luxuries that many others in the world cannot afford. Pray for a heart of gratitude.


  • 5. You Spend What You Don’t Have

    5. You Spend What You Don’t Have

    The amount of debt people accumulate by spending what they don’t have is alarmingly high. According to this article, the average household credit card debt was $8,500 in 2019. That amount might not seem like a lot, but if you were masking installments of $500 per month, it would still take 17 months to pay off!

    Not sticking to a budget, and spending blindly, is one sure sign consumerism is consuming you. Instead of continuing on this dangerous path, rework your budget so you know exactly what you have to spend each and every month.

    Action Step: Give yourself an allowance so you don’t feel trapped by your budget. Withdraw that allowance in cash for better self-control.

    6. You Still Have Price Tags on Things

    The last time I cleaned out my closet, I not only had 2 extra-large trash bags full of clothing and shoes to donate, I found a few things with price tags still attached. It was a wakeup call that consumerism was starting to consume me. 

    If this describes you, there are a few things you can do to stop this from happening:

    • Try things on at the store to see if they fit.
    • Open delivery boxes immediately and decide whether or not to keep the items.
    • Make exchanges/returns within 3 days of your purchase. (Put it on the calendar!)

    Action Step: Go through your closets and donate all items that haven’t been used in the last year.

  • 7. You Spend Out of Boredom

    7. You Spend Out of Boredom

    If one of the first things you do when you’re bored is jump on the computer to find the daily deals, or jump in the car to head to the mall, consumerism might be consuming you.

    Spending out of boredom is just as unhealthy as eating out of boredom. In our attempts to fill our “empty” with more, we’re actually filling our lives with more stress, more debt, and more discontentment.

    Our fulfillment is found only through Jesus. He came to give us life and life abundantly. (John 10:10) Instead of spending out of boredom, spend some one-on-one time with the Lord. Only He can fill the empty spaces and fill you to the full.

    Action Step: Make a list of 5 things to do when you’re bored, that don’t include spending money. Keep the list handy for times when boredom strikes.

    8. You Lavish Your Kids with Everything They Want

    Indulging your children with everything they want is a sign that consumerism is consuming you. Not only does this harm your children’s character by creating a lifestyle of self-indulgence, it creates the belief that happiness equals getting everything you want in life.

    If you’re constantly tempted to give your kids everything they want and more, please consider the negative and lasting effect it’s having on them. Along with that, consider the damaging effect it’s having on your budget!

    Give your children what matters most—the love and wisdom of our Heavenly Father, and the opportunity to receive Christ as their personal Savior.

    Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

    Action Step: Make a plan to scale down holidays and birthdays by giving simple, meaningful gifts that focus on your child’s faith and character.

  • 9. You’re Easily Influenced by the Power of Suggestion

    9. You’re Easily Influenced by the Power of Suggestion

    How many of us have seen the pizza commercials in between our favorite television episodes, only to pick up the phone and place an order?

    Being easily influenced by the power of suggestion, through advertisements, promotions, or comments from other people, can be a sign that consumerism is consuming you.

    The next time you’re tempted to buy anything through the power of suggestion, step away from the temptation and into the power of God’s Spirit to help you.

    Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!  - 1 Chronicles 16:11 ESV

    Action Step: Acknowledge your tendency to purchase things based on the power of suggestion and walk away from the temptation.

    10.  You Are Miserable in Your Mess

    Are you closets overflowing? Is your basement full of clutter? Do you feel miserable in your mess? If so, consumerism is likely consuming you.

    The old saying, “a place for everything and everything in its place,” is actually a great mantra to live by. Each time you go to buy something, picture where it will live. If you can’t think of the perfect designated spot, don’t buy it. 

    Action Step: Designate 2 weeks to clear your house from unnecessary clutter. Find a place for every single thing you keep.

    At the end of the day, it’s not worth letting consumerism consume you. By stopping this negative habit, and all of the unwanted consequences that follow, you’ll be stepping off the fast-track and onto solid ground. Don’t let consumerism consume you any longer. Instead, be consumed with a renewed sense of purpose in the Lord, and allow Him to conquer this issue in your life—once and for all.

    Jennifer Waddle considers herself a Kansas girl, married to a Colorado hunk, with a heart to encourage women everywhere. She is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayer, and is a regular contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is EncouragementMama.com where you can find her books and sign up for her weekly post, Discouragement Doesn’t Win. She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—her favorite place on earth.