Raising Kids in the Capital of Consumerism

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We have two small kids and we live in Los Angeles. We moved to Los Angeles from New York City more than 10 years ago. Friends warned me that I would hate LA before I visited. Many smart NYers feel Los Angeles is plastic, shallow and without culture or an appreciation for education (a la Woody Allen’s comment about the only cultural advantage LA has over NY is that you can make a right turn on red). Anyways, this is a stereotype.

Capital of Consumerism
Yet, I do agree that Los Angeles is the center of consumerism in this country. There is so much wealth here and it isn’t uncommon for people to live well above their means. I remember a few years ago one of my friends interviewed a nanny who said she needed x salary to pay for the brand new BMW she drove ($800 car payment). Meanwhile my friend was driving a beat up jalope with more than 100K miles. Or hearing about the cleaning lady who had her eyes done. Or my good friend who recently told me that she has more than 100K of credit card debt.

Kids & Money
Last night I watched a film by Lauren Greenfield called “Kids + Money.” It was fascinating and depressing to see how much all the kids’ lives were so centered around money. The piece features kids from wealthy and poor families. What is interesting is that no matter what the situation the kids were all aware of others who had more.

Contribute Rather than Consume
How can we teach our children and ourselves to be content with what we have in the moment and not compare ourselves to others? I know some people say having a rich spiritual life helps them. But what about for those of us who are atheists or at least want to run as far away from organized religion as possible? How can we raise contented members of society who contribute rather than just consume? I think there are many things we can do but the most important is to lead by example.

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One Response to “Raising Kids in the Capital of Consumerism”

  1. Spring Roundup — Some Favorite Posts « finance psychology Says:

    […] Capital of Consumerism. Click here. […]

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