Ramblin’ Road: It’s easy to get lured into consumption

by Phyllis McCrossin

It’s New Year’s Day and that can mean only one thing… the ads for weight loss programs and products will be inundating the television airwaves or a newsfeed near you.  Don’t look too closely or they will haunt you for weeks on end.

It’s time for starting healthy regimens, or to recover from over indulging over the holidays, and the marketers are going to be busy for the next few weeks selling you the latest and greatest in whatever is going to make your life “perfect.”

I made a mistake this morning. I got tired of my phone dying every three hours, so I went online to look at new phones. However, in keeping with my new determination to NOT spend this year, I decided I would simply keep a phone charger with me as much as possible and forgo the purchase of a new phone. When the phone totally dies, I’ll either disconnect from the world entirely, or find a flip phone. 

Now, however, my Facebook newsfeed is filled with ads for the latest in phones. Ahhh, the magic of tracking clicks. By the way, did you know I can “live my best life” with a new Galaxy phone? Who comes up with the copy for those ads? Never mind, I already know.  

For five years I worked for the dark side (meaning I was a reporter who ventured into the world of marketing). The pay is almost triple of that of a newspaper reporter, which is why it is easy to be enticed to join the dark side.

I worked for a state university’s off-campus programs – encouraging people to earn a degree (generally a master’s degree). Oh, we had facts and figures for how much more an individual’s income could be with an advanced degree. What we never mentioned in our advertising copy was how much this degree would cost, given the exorbitant cost of higher education.

I had a difficult time playing nice with others at this job. No, I was not noble. I wish I could say I was. I got caught up in the politics of the work environment. Who was doing what, who was slacking, who was up for a promotion, etc. etc. etc. What few people realize, however, is the politics in higher education is unbelievable. The more alphabet soup behind the name, the more the individual perceived their self-worth.

But I digress.

One would think that knowing how all the marketing works I would not fall for the hype. But I do. And that is what the folks who market this stuff count on.  Do I need a phone with the latest operating system?  It would be nice, but I can live without it.  Do I need a set of non-stick, stackable pots and pans for five easy payments of $39.99? (Well, actually I do need new pots and pans, but I hate making payments on anything).

It’s time for some repairs on our travel trailer. A couple of clicks on Amazon for the parts we need and I’ve been inundated with ads for new trailers. Would I like a new trailer? Well, yes, it would be nice. But, I doubt a new trailer would have the character this one has, and in keeping with the non-payment thing, it would be foolhardy to go into debt. For the cost of the down payment we can  fix what needs to be fixed and have money left over for something frivolous.

There is something to be said for being content with what you have and knowing the difference between want and need.

1 Comment

  • David.
    If you had been in my class you would have learned BEP. (BASIC ECONOMIC PROBLEM).
    RESOURCES ARE LIMITED v. WANTS ARE UNLIMITED. This tells us we CANNOT have everything we want.
    The issue then becomes WANTS v. NEEDS.
    Next issues: scarcity and waste.

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