Want to know why the gap between the haves and the have-nots keeps growing? The haves live within their means. They don’t waste their hard-earned money on all the crap that American consumers spend billions, maybe even trillions, on each year.

We have an almost insatiable appetite for just about any type of useless garbage that anyone decides to make in China for a few bucks and sell here for a few hundred. That’s why nobody has any savings and everyone complains they don’t have enough money to live on.

Actually, the problem is much worse than that. The all-consuming consumer is a lifestyle choice that’s quickly becoming the norm. What’s it all for? Honestly, I don’t know. All I know is that it wastes far more than our money. It wastes our time. It wastes our lives. And it doesn’t make us happy. It makes us miserable.

Don’t get me wrong. Buying and selling goods is good for the economy. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about stuff that nobody needs or can afford. I’m talking about stuff that has no benefit. I’m talking about stuff that’s a flat-out scam. Here’s a surprisingly long laundry list, off the top of my head:

Cars for every purpose. We have minivans, SUVs of every size, crossovers of every shape, convertibles, pickups, and options for everything but driving. I have a neighbor with a sedan, a minivan, a VW Bug, a pickup, and a convertible – just for two adults. And they have way too much junk in their garage to store any of their vehicles there.

Foodie fads. Just because you call yourself a foodie doesn’t make you a chef or healthy; it just means you pay way too much for all sorts of pricey stuff. These days everyone is gluten-free, lactose intolerant, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, or something. And kitchens are filled with gadgets nobody needs.

Gadgets. Smartphones are making us dumb addicts. There, I said it. We’re all like lab mice in some cosmic behavioral conditioning experiment.

Weight loss systems. It’s hard to believe, but we’ve somehow managed to become a society of obese people who spend billions on fitness gadgets, miracle diets, club memberships, and workout equipment. And have you noticed how everything is a system? Even a caffeine pill is a diet system.

Costco. Let me just say this. The Tobaks have enough toilet paper to last a lifetime.

Self help books. We’re obsessed with self-improvement, personal productivity, leadership nonsense, and positive thinking. They’re all fads. We spend billions trying to become what we’re not. I don’t care whose habits they are, where you put your cheese, or what some guy says he can do in a 4-hour workweek. It’s all BS.

Vitamins, supplements, and miracles cures. Don’t even get me started on homeopathic medicine, colonics, hair growth, male enhancement products, and pills for your libido. They’re all scams.

Gambling. Forget Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Indian casinos. What about fantasy football, the lottery (a sucker’s bet that rakes in billions), and the stock market? Think you can time the market or pick winning stocks? That’s funny; the pros can’t.

Sporting goods, gear, and garb. When did athleisure become a category? When did a $20 pair of sneakers become 5 pairs of $100 running shoes, cross trainers, basketball shoes, walking shoes, and hiking shoes? Everyone has a basketball hoop but nobody plays. We’re all in terrible shape but our closets and garages are full of crap we never use.

Fast food. It isn’t that fast and it isn’t cheap. On the other hand, it tastes like garbage and is terrible for you. If you just stay home and learn to cook from scratch, you can get a healthy, great-tasting meal on the table for less. And no, it doesn’t take that long.

Water, sports, and energy drinks. Water, sports, and energy drinks are a huge industry. It’s hard to believe that people spend billions on H2O, sugar, salt, and caffeine. Don’t even get me started on Starbucks and Jamba Juice.

Smart homes. Everything is networked with sensors and displays. Why do we need smart thermostats, light switches, blinds, and door locks? The more features and functions, the more it costs and the faster it breaks. We don’t need smarter homes; we need smarter people.

Beds. The best mattress I ever owned cost about $500, and I think that included the box spring. Know how much a Tempur Pedic or Sleep Number bed costs? Me neither, but I’m pretty sure it’s in the thousands. Our backs evolved for sleeping on the ground. How complicated can a bed be?

Here’s the thing. Life is for living, not owning or buying. Just ask any legitimate Buddhist monk and he’ll tell you: the less you have, the happier you’ll be. The more stuff you own, the more stuff owns you. The simple things make you happy. Complicated things make you miserable. And expensive things make you broke. No kidding.

A version of this first appeared on foxbusiness.com