HGTV is Breaking My Brain

When I first started this blog, one of the things I thought I’d blog about more was lifestyle creep and keeping up with the Joneses.

I haven’t really touched too much on those issues, but I read an interesting article on Vulture this week and it really got me thinking. The article is called, “Beware HGTV’s House-Flipping Feedback Loop” and you can read it here.

There were a couple of really powerful quotes that stood out to me in the article, the theme of which is that HGTV is really peddling a dream. It’s a dream that if you can upgrade your kitchen countertops and move into a space that’s great for entertaining your life will suddenly become more – more happy, more content, more productive.

But the dream of a boy sitting happily in his mother’s kitchen, filling out his worksheets while she sips a big bubble glass of chilled Chardonnay and cooks — what? Quickie quesadillas? Three-step lasagna? — In her fantastically overbuilt kitchen is a powerful one, and for a few happy Act Three minutes, we dream that little dream, too.

I mean, doesn’t that sound nice?

Or this:

Why have I allowed my attic “bonus room” to remain covered in the exact type of wall-to-wall carpet that repulses Joanna Gaines, Christina El Moussa, and both Property Brothers? And what failure of character is revealed by my closed-plan kitchen? HGTV makes big, expensive, time-consuming remodels look like two weeks’ work and a modest amount of money well spent. … The discontent gnaws as the addiction to the programming grows, and you have to imagine many viewers find themselves enticed to do foolish things like take out second mortgages so that they can blast out a few walls and get a little of what Chip and Joanna seem to have.

OMG. Have you been there? I have been there. So, so many times.

I should really redo this kitchen, I think to myself. Granite doesn’t cost that much. It’ll take like three weeks to rip it all out and start over again.


As someone who does like HGTV (and in fact, it was one of my required channels when my husband and I cut cable) I was stunned to see so much of myself in this article.

I love watching HGTV, but when I keep it on as background noise, I find that there is a much likelier chance that I’ll be on later that day looking for new homes. Or on Pinterest pinning stunning pictures of people pools in the thought that I’ll put one in next spring.

We are so susceptible to advertising and jealousy and discontentment. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and it’s always so easy to sit and think that life would be better if I had just bought that other house instead. Or life would be better if I had a nicer car. Or life would be better if I had stainless steel appliances.

The question is why do we do this? Why are we unable to see the forest for the trees? I know that I have a wonderful life. I have a great partner, two ridiculous dogs, a fantastic career, and I don’t want for anything. So why am I searching for ways to renovate my entryway on Pinterest? Or googling how much it costs to put in a new fence? My front entryway is fine. My fence is fine. They don’t need to be newer or shinier to do the job of containing my dogs or ushering people into my home.

I’m going to issue a challenge to everyone reading this. Next time you go to buy something – whether it’s a lamp for your family room or a new dining room table – ask yourself if you need that item or if you’re simply buying it to prove to yourself you can.

How come as soon as I got a raise the perfectly good lamps on my bedside tables suddenly seemed shabby? How come a bonus check means that we can now spend it immediately on material things instead of saving it for a rainy day?

Those are the questions I really want to ask on this blog. I want to help people get to the root of these questions so they can save more money and secure themselves financially. Instead of chasing rainbows that may or may not actually lead to happiness.


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