Armchair Millionaire Community Bulletin: The Disease and the Cure

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More isn't better; more of what matters is. Beat affluenza by digging deep into what your priorities truly are--they likely have nothing to do with acquiring more stuff--and put your best energies into them.

Many of us display the classic symptoms of affluenza: being focused on buying things, working too much (but still not having enough money) and stressing out about it all. It seems that for many of us in the U.S., our relative abundance of money and material goods has led us to believe that money is the answer to all our problems.

When we asked members of the Armchair Millionaire community about their views on our seemingly endless pursuit and spending of money, we heard some heartfelt and blunt replies. Here are two:

"I think many Americans are more compelled to consume than invest. Too much of the focus on money is how it can be leveraged into even more credit purchases, like big mortgages or car loans, to the extent that there's no cushion for a personal or economic downturn." --tinhorn

"Americans are greedy. We buy cars or nice houses just to look good or cool. Then people need to earn more money to buy a new $40,000 car that will be worth nothing in a couple of years. So we just stay in a cycle, work our butts off, buy more stuff and never have the time to enjoy life. We have no clue what it's like to do without or what is important in life." --Jami

The good news is that most of us readily recognize our society's obsession with money. A recent poll by the Center for a New American Dream, for example, found that nearly all Americans (93 percent) agree that we are too focused on working and making money and not enough on family and community.

In my case, I find myself somewhat immunized from affluenza because my family always gives me such grief whenever I make a new purchase. Let me pass on to you what they say to me (constantly):

The Armchair Millionaire's home-grown cure for beating affluenza

Tune out the media. Much of the source of our compulsion to buy comes from the near-constant advertising messages we receive. Watch less TV, spend less time online and pass by slick, ad-filled magazines.

Be mindful. Slow down and take the impulse out of your spending. Whenever you consider buying something, ask: Do I really need this, or just want it? Am I trying to impress someone? Am I trying to make myself happy by buying this?

Shop less, and fill the gap with something else. The one sure-fire way to not spend money at the mall this Saturday is not to go to the mall at all. Fill the time you used to spend shopping with more meaningful activities: spend time with loved ones, find a hobby you enjoy or just go outside and get some exercise.

Re-connect with your community. Volunteer your time to a good cause. Introduce yourself to your neighbors. Have those friends you haven't seen in years over for a barbeque. Making authentic connections to the people around you will remind you on an important level about what's really important in life.

Pay yourself first. There are few things that will help you create some balance in your finances than building a nest egg. You'll find that it's painless to set up an investment account and have a fixed amount of money automatically deposited in it every month. Leave that money alone until retirement and in the meantime, take some comfort in knowing that you are doing one thing that does make good financial sense.

THE BOTTOM LINE: More--by itself--isn’t enough. Dig deep into what your priorities truly are and put your energies into that. It probably has nothing to do with acquiring more stuff. If I’m wrong, send me an email and tell me about it: If it comes to it, I’ll forward your email on to my family so they can berate you via email.

THE ARMCHAIR MILLIONAIRE WEEKLY SURVEY: Ever thought about moving abroad in search of greener pastures? Log on to and let us know.

Lewis Schiff founded the Armchair Millionaire Web site in 1997. His first book, The Armchair Millionaire, was published in 2001. Schiff's newest report, "How to Know When You Are Rich," is now available at


Lewis Schiff

Armchair Millionaire


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Lewis Schiff