consumption: renounce or postpone?

Consumption – does it make you happy? If money really rules the world, then consumption probably gives the coordinates along which we orientate ourselves and, in turn, the financial education of our children. Yet it is precisely the renunciation of consumption that can lead to a “plus”: In personal well-being, in quality of life, and also a gain in terms of financial security.

At least, a study conducted by the University of Arizona in the fall of 2019 among young adults came to exactly these results. The study compared two test groups with different approaches to their environmental and resource-conserving consumption:

  • materialistically oriented young adults who have not reduced their consumption, but shifted it towards “green buying


  • young adults who have opted for doing without rather than buying environmentally friendly products

The results of the study show that those who gave up consumption showed an overall better personal well-being than those who shifted their consumption towards “green” and “sustainable”.

keep calm and rencounce consumption

The group of the test persons who renounced consumptions had exciting results: Who does without consumption, does not go automatically into privation (like a monk in a cave), nor must he accept cutting back on quality of life. On the contracy, he/she profits from a from a noticeable increase of personal well-being.

The reason: the less one has to worry about accumulated things (and if one abstains from consumption, there are fewer things anyway), the lower the stress level and the higher the time gain. This time in turn, and also the money saved, can be invested in activities that are really fun and are not ballast, but rather an emotional enrichment, not necessarily material.

Those who refrain from consumption see in the things they buy and own less a source for a happy and satisfying life than the materialistically minded test persons. The renunciation of consumption practically “teaches” them to deal with limited resources of a financial and other kind or even to be and remain happier with it. This ultimately has an effect on their strategic saving behavior: The more prudently one deals with existing financial resources and the better one knows about their limitations, the more precisely one uses these resources in perspective – for concrete savings goals.

shifting consumption wisely

Of course, we want to educate our children “right” in financial matters, i.e. turn them into conscious consumers who handle their money responsibly, understand the finite nature of money, avoid impulse purchases and save for something in a more targeted manner. Saving is ultimately a form of postponing consumption. One uses the deferment to think carefully about planned purchases and between spending and deferring weighs up.

On the other hand, children know instinctively how our world “works” and that consumption drives them and keeps them going. If we as parents want to change this attitude, we have to live it by example, i.e. we have to avoid spontaneous consumption and learn together with our children that doing without is a lot of fun – doing it yourself and saving money.

repair, inventory, and ideas

A roll from the inline skaters is broken, the pencil doesn’t paint anymore, the collection stickers in the album are all boring, the bell on the bicycle only makes soft sounds: These are just a few of many possible scenarios that we parents know all too well. In such situations, the consumer often quickly ends up in stores and buy something new.

The following suggestions do not only save money, but are also fun for mum, dad and children:

1. „the warehouse“

If the roller on the inline skaters or the wheel on the scooter is gone, can you repair it? There might be a pair of inline skates or a scooter in the basement that can deliver a wheel or a roller. Maybe the nice neighbours will help out with their equipment – or the “Free to hand in” section in the small advertisements. To search through the cellar/the garage/the attic with children is an exciting detective work and discovery adventure.

2. inventory

Aussortieren statt Konsumieren

Before you go out and buy a complete set of new coloured or felt-tip pens, you can check the existing pens together to see if they are suitable for colouring. This is not only fun (because you can also colour in great pictures), but can also lead to the discovery of forgotten pen treasures. You might also realise that it doesn’t make sense to spend money on several new pens now, which don’t cost much and won’t last long. But of course, saving on a pen that really has it all is also a great goal.

3. trade

At some point the collection of stickers or collection cards needs movement. The movement does not have to be bootstrapped with consumption. Why not participating in a virtual trade exchange or a (virtual) pocket money Irgendwann braiuucht auch der Bestand an Stickern oder Sammelkarten etwas Bewegung. Doch die muss ja nicht durch Konsum ins Rollen gebracht werden. Warum also nicht eine (virtuelle) Tauschbörse organisieren, bei der die Kids tauschen, plauschen und sich austauschen können?

4. repair-cafés

In an increasing number of cities, volunteers are offering joint free repairs of defective equipment. Together you can do really great handicrafts, screw, glue, bring defective appliances back to life and even save money.

5. less consumption = more time and space

Show your child that more things mean less space in the children’s room. Talk to your child, that new toys mean to also remove them and cleaning up the room more often.

visualise savings, reflect own consumer behaviour

No matter which idea you decide on or even find new ones: It is important that children understand and see how much money they have really saved by repairing, re-using or exchanging. As parents, for example, you can take a 20 EUR note and show the children that you saved this money by repairing the pedal scooter and put these twenty euros in relation to their pocket money or piggy bank balance.

In other words, reckless and automatic consumption has to be understood, visualised and changed as an own behaviour pattern in order to understand why children “tick” in exactly this way. Moreover, renunciation should always be associated with fun – be it by repairing together or by the child painting a picture of something he or she wants to save for. The less you spend on unnecessary things, the faster you will reach this goal. Not to forget: Repairing defective things, “patching them up” with spare parts or even upcycling supposedly useless products shows children the abstract idea of recycling in concrete terms. It is just as important to convey to children that they should be prepared to make purchases just as well as for kindergarten, school, visits to friends or family outings: What exactly do I want to buy and why? What are the alternatives to buying a new car? Finally, children should also understand the nature of the “flow of money”: Money that they spend is inevitably gone and thus no longer available, even if they want to buy something perhaps bigger, more beautiful and more expensive later.

shaping financial education with Finny

As the first mobile banking app for children aged 7 – 12, the Finny Kids App combines the virtual world of money with tangible financial knowledge and real money in the Finny money box. Children can visualise their savings goals and clearly define the way to achieve them. In doing so, they, like their parents, have an overview at all times:

  • How much money is in the savings account and in the funny Finny bank?
  • What has been taken out?
  • How much has been deposited or put in?
  • Furthermore, children can supplement their pocket money by doing household tasks.

Exciting financial tips help parents in the follow ways:

  • Explain to their children in a fun and age-appropriate way where money actually comes from
  • How to save, multiply and spend money consciously.
  • In addition, parents can quickly see their children’s level of learning and deepen missing financial knowledge here and there.

With Finny Community, grandparents, godparents, uncles, aunts and friends can become part of the Finny family, contribute something to their pocket money and help their children reach their savings goals more quickly.

try Finny apps now

further reading tips

smart saving with nursery rhymes

Mara Harvey's Book: Smart Way to start

If you want to make one or more rhymes suitable for children on the subject of smart saving, we recommend the lovingly illustrated and age-appropriate books from the series “A Smart Way to Start” by Dr. Mara Catherine Harvey. The books can be ordered here, an ideal Christmas present.

materialism, consumer behavior, and well being

The study at University of Arizona „Materialist values, financial and pro-environmental behaviors, and well-being” is available here:

craft ideas on the subject of saving

The social education worker Jasmin Höcherl from Germany has written a book with craft ideas on the subject of saving and money, divided by age groups: pedagogy and the world of finance smartly linked. The book is an excellent Christmas present – order it here (available in german language).