First Person: I'm Living the 'Less Is More' Life

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A new survey shows wealthy consumers are not making a mad dash to the luxury stores. They are turned off by prominent brand logos and showy labels. Even though I grew up constantly being bombarded with media messages such as "you are worth it," and "be a little selfish," I ignored all that. It was difficult growing up in an affluent area in Maryland in the 1980s without being label conscious. Snobby girls would often ridicule anyone who wasn't wearing preppy clothes. However, I'm happy to see the affluent are embracing the "less is more" trend by embracing discount and big-box stores.

Cutting back on non-essentials

During the recession, I definitely cut back on non-essential items. Experts assumed everyone would start spending more after the recession. However, a new survey cited in a recent CNNMoney article shows only 6 percent of wealthy consumers planned to spend more money on purses while 4 percent planned to spend more on jewelry and watches. The survey by the Luxury Institute revealed wealthier shoppers are seeking value.

Putting my money where my mouth is

According to the survey, 20 percent of the surveyed pentamillionaires with a net worth of more than $5 million said they would spend more money on dining out. While I don't treat myself to gourmet restaurants very often, I am spending more at specialty grocery stores. I make a priority of buying organic, gluten-free and foods that have not been genetically modified because my health is important to me. By being healthy, I'm going to save on the future cost of medical care.

Taking real vacations

Meanwhile, 33 percent of the pentamillionaires said they plan to spend more money on travel. I've read studies that show people tend to be happier when they spend money on experiences as opposed to material possessions. In the past few years, we have taken "stay-vacations" to other parts of Florida. This is the first time that I can remember that we are planning what I call real vacations that involve flying in an airplane and staying in hotels.

Although I think it's wise to emulate some of the behaviors of the wealthy in order to become wealthier, that's not why I don't shop at high-end retailers. I just can't look the price tag of a designer handbag or piece of jewelry without thinking about how the money could be used for something more practical or possibly feed a starving child.

When I do occasionally spend money on something indulgent, I try to remember that any purchase I make helps the economy. I'm paying for someone's job by making a purchase. I do my best to shop American and support the local retailers.

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More from this contributor:

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