If you asked what people really care about, what brings happiness and gives them life, most would talk about the value of relationships with family and friends, among other lofty ideals. James Roberts, professor of marketing and consumer behavior at Baylor University, argues that our actions and behaviors tell a different story. We are not who we think we are.
In today’s culture we are what we drive, what we wear, where we live and how many gadgets we own. Roberts’ book, “Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy,” provides a disturbing picture of how our materialistic passions threaten our physical, mental and financial well being. Roberts employs research and sociology through an interesting journey that explains how we transformed into our current obsession with possessions. Ironically, the pursuit of things often requires long, stressful hours of work to pay for them. Not only is this pursuit counterproductive to bring us the happiness we desire but is actually bad for us.
In 1982, the personal savings rate was 10.9 percent of personal income but by 2005 it had plummeted to 1.5 percent. The severe recession shocked us only enough to increase the rate to 5 percent. Seventy percent of us live from paycheck to paycheck. The average household has more than $10,000 in credit-card debt and more than 1.5 million people filed for bankruptcy in 2010. We know someone turns 60 every six seconds, but the average baby boomer has fewer than $200,000 in net worth to sustain what could be 20 years or more of retirement.
For the complete article, please pick up a copy of The Daily Reflector. Current home delivery and electronic edition subscribers may log in to access this article at no charge. To become a subscriber, please click here or contact Customer Service at (252) 329-9505.