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The Overspent American Why We Want What We Don't Need

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Of things to buy or get and why Americans save less than virtually anyone in the world Unlike many experts Harvard economist Juliet B Schor does not blame consumers' lac. i really cannot

review À eBook, PDF or Kindle ePUB Ø Juliet B. Schor

The Overspent American explores why so many of us feel materially dissatisfied why we work staggeringly long hours and yet walk around with ever present mental wish lists. As good as this

Juliet B. Schor Ø 7 review

K of self discipline Nor does she blame advertisers Instead she analyzes the crisis of the American consumer in a culture where spending has become the ultimate social ar. Meh First of al Tigerfeeling in a culture where spending has become the ultimate social ar. Meh First of al


10 thoughts on “The Overspent American Why We Want What We Don't Need

  1. says:

    I don't even know where to start on reviewing this book other than to say that every once in awhile I read a book that can completely shake me to the core I haven't lost this much sleep since my youngest was an infant I am up at 2 am wondering Am I trying to keep up with the Joneses? my sister incidentally Or am I fitting in okay with my reference group and do I care? If I do care why? Did I buy designer jeans because of status or just because they feel and look good? Do I think they look good due to branding? Am I not as bad because I bought most of them used on ebay? The thing that plagued me most was what if I do make a purchase purely with the motivation to impress my reference group if I am making those choices how can I live with myself? I truly was left wondering if I am a despicable person? uite an enigma to give this five stars right? It's not all bad news This book made me take a really close look at what motivates me to consume and now I can't imagine making a purchase without thinking Why do I need this? What purpose does it serve? And will it end up becoming junk taking up space? So I think this book is wonderful I love examining these uestions I think this guilt can only help me become a less despicable person My favorite thing about this book was that minus the research I have had conversations almost verbatim or have thought about almost all of what the author discussed in the book I found another kindred spirit in this author She talks a lot about the work and spent cycle And how we never seem to have enough Our income goes up and so does our spending One of my favorite studies the author did was about cosmetics She found that women were okay with buying the drug store brand moisturizers and even eye shadow but women tended to buy high end lipstick because they might put it on in public The author ends up saying I found myself unable to buy designer brand cosmetics not only because I knew I was wasting my money but also because it made me feel foolish That pretty much sums up how I felt throughout the book Big advertising dollars are spent so that we all rush out and buy the next big must have items I don't want to be lumped into the group of foolish American's that are falling for all thatWhere does all this leave me? What's a girl to do? The author interviews several people who have Downshifted Those who by choice or life circumstances have walked away from the work spend cycle and have learned to live on a lot less Part of me finds it exciting and freeing to just be able to shout out I'm done I'm out and go and find a drug free hippy commune But this is not very realistic for a mother of three young children The author says she rarely found people with young children living simply because of financial realities Another part of me kids or not does not want to live simply I don't think I'll ever want to make my clothes and I like my blow dryer But I think there is a happy medium and this book is helping me find that spot and helped me and hopefully the rest of America to start asking some important uestions about our spendingMy only wish like many other reviewers is that we could get some current information about where we are at as a Nation on these consumer issues The copy I read was published in 1998 In many ways I think our spending has gotten out of control Although with the recent economic crisis I think we are forced to address these uestions than ever


  2. says:

    1 Our society's constant desire to upgrade everything cars homes furnishings clothes etc is a relatively new trend 2 Studies show that we have than ever but we aren't any happier than earlier generations3 True or false? On average for every hour people watch tv per week their annual savings decrease by than 200


  3. says:

    As good as this book is it’s outdated The most recent research is about 1998 and a lot has changed in 10 years It’s a shame that things haven’t been updated since I think as time goes on the information has only become relevantIf it’s good enough to keep in print why isn’t it good enough to update?


  4. says:

    Do you know what I always seem to buy too much of? Bananas I am always tossing brown bananas in the trash But I never slow down my banana purchasing I think it's because I feel lame buying just one or two bananas I feel like you need to buy a whole bundle to justify the purchase I am also afraid I might REALLY want a banana and there won't be any in my fruit bowl


  5. says:

    i really cannot say enough good things about this book it's well written well researched and incredibly interesting the most shocking thing to me is that the content is so relevant to today and yet it was written in 1998also it was good timing for me since we just rented 'what would jesus buy' directed by morgan spurlock and that film discusses something a little similar in terms of people's shopping habits at christmas how the spending has spiraled out of control and how americans go into debt purchasing giftsmy favorite ideas and takeaways from the book include the following schools incorporating classes and lessons on how to spend and save money including examining advertising to deconstruct messages and what they mean government and community initiated lending libraries not just for books this could include lawn tools other tools puzzles games so many ideas that would work better on a shared level we place limits on work gift exchanges but why don't we do the same for family gift exchanges kids' birthday parties birthday presents etc? we shouldn't all subscribe to the thought that just because we're not paying full price on an item it means we're saving in some way how can we decommercialize our rituals to make them about the moment and less about the stuff? weddings become about the registries christmas about the gift exchange and halloween and others about specific decorations and things to purchasebeyond these overall ideas the book does so much to chronicle how much money is actually saved and how much people are in debt it's a sad story and i think a cautionary tale that we should all pay attention to so that we don't end up consuming but essentially gaining less emotional satisfaction


  6. says:

    One of the better books about consumption work materialism money self worth It's interesting how a book like this can go right hand in hand with a book about investing and financial independence Would like to go back and re read this one soon


  7. says:

    Meh First of all the edition the library had was published in 1998 It was than slightly outdated I think the author genuinely enjoys writing but perhaps a non fiction book isn't the best place to over use the thesaurus for uncommon words as well as make up words when the thesaurus failed The first chapter was a fantastic synopsis of the entire book rendering the rest of the book to be somewhat redundant This book seemed to get hung up on the driving force of keeping up with the Joneses without really bringing in any other arguments for why we buy unlike other books that analyze consumerism which mention the Joneses in passing but delve into much interesting reasonsMy favorite fact from the book was for every hour spent watching tv reduces the amount people put into savings by about 208 which is a 1998 statistic but still


  8. says:

    A fascinating look at the sociology behind Americans obsession with materialism It is much complicated than you may think but pretty fascinating The book explains why we want what we don't need You may not even realize that you are being affected by some of these societal pressures The book also offers some good suggestions for breaking these pressures and getting back to a simple life Would recommend


  9. says:

    I re read this book whenever I feel like spending a huge amount of money on things I don't really need Its an excellent snapshot of lower middle class spending since the 1970's and into the 80's If you want to read this book pick up the updated version published in 1998 this one is too outdated to be helpful much longer This book reminds me of the power of advertising and envy


  10. says:

    Below are key lessons in the form of excerpts that I found particularly insightful from this book in which Juliet analyzes the crisis of the American consumer in a culture where spending has become the ultimate social act1 While I believe all Americans are deeply affected by consumerism this book is directed to peoplewhose income afford comfortable lifestyle I focus on affluent consumers not because I believe that ineualities of consuming power are unimportant Far from it They are at the heart of the problem But I believe that achieving an euitable standard of living for all Americans will reuire that those of us with comfortable material lives transform our relationship to spending I offer this book as a step in that direction2 This book is about why About why so many middle class Americans feel materially dissatisfiedHow even a six figure income can seem inadeuate and why this country saves less than virtually any other nation in the world It is about the ways in which for America's middle classes spending becomes you about how it flatters enhances and defines people in often wonderful ways but also how it takes over their livesIT analyzes how standards of belonging socially have changes in recent decades and how this change has introduced American to highly intensified spending pressures And finally it is about a growing backlash to the consumption culture a movement of people who are downshifting by working less and living their consumer lives much deliberately3 Even though products carry well recognized levels of prestige are associated with particular kinds of people or convey widely accepted messages we cannot automatically infer the motivations of the consumers who buy themThere are other sources of meaning beyond social ineualities Gender ethnicity personal predisposition and many other factors help structure the meanings and motivation attached to consuming4 First for a significant number of branded and highly advertised products there are no uality differences discernible to consumers when the labels are removed; and second variation in prices typically exceeds variation in uality with the difference being in part a status premiumThe extra money we spend could arguably be better used in other ways improving our public schools boosting retirement savings or providing drug treatment for the millions of people the country is locking up in an effort to protect commodities others have acuired But unless we find a way to dissociate what we buy from who we think we are redirecting those dollars will prove difficult indeed5 Today in a world where being middle class is not good enough for many people and indeed that social category seems like an endangered species securing a place means going upscale But when everyone is doing it upscaling can mean simply keeping up Even when we are aiming high there's a strong defensive component to our comparisons We don't want to fall behind or lose the place we've carved out for ourselves6 To maintain psychological comfort most of us must transcend the strictures of the current consumption mapThe first step is to decouple spending from our sense of worth a connection basic to all hierarchical consumption maps The second is to find a reference group for whom a low cost lifestyle is socially acceptable7 I outline nine principles to help individuals and the nation get off the consumer escalator1 Controlling desire2 Creating a new consumer symbolism making exclusivity uncool3 Controlling ourselves voluntary restraints on competitive consumption4 Learning to share both as a borrower and a lender be5 Deconstruct the Commercial system Becoming an Educated Consumer6 Avoid Retail Therapy Spending is Addictive7 Decommercialize the Rituals8 Making Time Is work and spend working?9 The need for a coordinate intervention8 It can hardly be possible that the dumbing down of America has proceeded so far that it's either consumerism or nothing We remain a creative resourceful and caring nation There's still time left to find our way out of the mall


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