Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Marge_Simpson, Nov 25, 2011.
Bookmarked to read later ... thanks!
Really nicely written. Says the girl completely guilty of rampant consumerism.
I need to get over my need of sparkly items...
But if you do that, all those workers who slave endlessly in the Sequin Mines will lose their jobs .
I like that she acknowledges the power of advertising. I see people all the time saying "advertising doesn't impact me!" but, if it didn't, why would companies like Coca-cola and Pepsi spend millions every year trying to win you over from drinking the other one? They aren't stupid and that's a lot of money to be thrown away on something that supposedly "doesn't work" on 99% of the people.
I know we don't want to think that advertising impacts our choices but I think we get more power if we acknowledge that it does and then work very hard to consciously counter-act it's messages.
I know Mini-Mac and her generation will do things like DVR something and then watch *the whole thing* and not zap through the commercials on playback. I also notice that she often is on Tumblr or some other website during the actual show, but when the commercials come on, she is all ears. I point this out to her but I get "Mmmmmmoooooommmmmmm" like I'm just being a grumpy grownup. Then, in the stores, she's always trying to get me to buy her stuff and her attitude seems to be "I'm awesome, so I deserve it."
I will often dissect tv ads as we watch them (which she also doesn't like) and when she asks for things in the store, I will talk about things like "need vs. want" and that everything you buy has to be paid for somehow (AKA "money doesn't grow on trees") but I'm not sure how much is getting through and it's not like we set the best example as we have money (when I'm working) and so we do spend it on gadgets we don't need and buy things on impulse.
Anyway, I'd like to see kids regularly taught in school about how advertising works and how to counter-act it's impact as I think this is now a necessary life skill.
One thing her blog post doesn't acknowledge, though, is the time-cost of money. She admits that you can't go to the thrift stores and buy everything on your list like you can when you go to a regular store and buy new. For someone like myself, who is very time-crunched, this is important. I don't have time to spend every weekend spending a few hours shopping until I get everything I need. This is also why I shop at the supermarket I shop at even though it's not the cheapest at a lot of things -- it has the best selections of what I normally buy. Even going to two supermarkets in one weekend is a big time crunch, let alone three or four, which is what it would take to save a significant amount of money.
Not a bad article. But "new" is not a "new concept" or nothing would actually exist. We cannot get something "secondhand" if it were not made and purchased "firsthand" at some point. What she's actually saying is that in previous economically tough times, people bought fewer new things and that in earlier times, people made their own things.
It would not, however, be sustainable for no one to ever buy anything new. We can only redistribute existing goods for so long before we run out. If we stopped producing new cars, for example, there would be a supply-demand issue for vehicles driving up the cost of all of them within a few years.
Also...on the used stuff for gifts...really? Last year, I was given two used books for Christmas. One smelled and looked like a dog had peed on it and the other had dirt. Give me one clean paperback, please, rather than two really gross used hardbacks...about the same cost and not tacky.
Exactly. I refuse to run around to six different stores just to get $1 off. Not worth my time, not to mention the gas money.
Thrifting clothes is especially difficult if you're on either side of the bell curve in size. I'm an 18 and I rarely find anything that both fits and that I like - maybe it's just my area but 98% of the clothes at thrift stores are terrible! Also, I find it overwhelming and frustrating. It works better for me to wait for a sale/coupon and buy new clothes.
I just have to be careful to buy what I NEED, even if it means spending a little more. I have a tendency to buy something little and cheap ($5 scarf) that I don't need, just to buy something, instead of spending more ($30 for jeans that fit) on something I really do need.
My daughter is like this. She also wants everything she sees. Then she wears/uses it once and it disappears somewhere that is the black hole of her room.
This is a little random, but one trick to successful thrift store shopping is to go to stores located in affluent areas. You will find some NICE high-end clothes, barely used, for a great price.
I think my greatest consignment store score was a brand new, tags still attached Ann Taylor skirt that originally retailed at 126.00. I paid eight dollars for it. SCORE.
For those who don't mind doing this, another cool thing is to drive through a wealthy neighborhood the night before "bulk trash" day. Seriously nice furniture and electronics.
Zoe who wrote this article and I are kindred spirits. ITA with pretty much everything she said and her point of view.
I'm not much of a consumer and not much influenced by advertising (don't watch much TV). I'm a saver, not a spender. I do sometimes buy stuff I want and often it does make me happy. Like objects of art or jewelry that I bought just because they were pretty. Which continue to bring me happiness long after I've bought them. But I critically assess my feelings of want.
I divide my spending into 'want for a good reason', 'need', and 'prefer'. ('Prefer' is higher end dog food so I have a healthier dog) . Normally I hate shopping at malls and big box stores, but do shop there occasionally because it's easier. Recently I bought a pair of good leather walking boots and it was not fun. It took me hours and hours to find the right boots and then I wore them and they were too small. For those who fear 'second hand' - the store did take the boots back, even though I'd worn them for a few hours and there was dirt on the bottom. . .
I am amazed by all the spending on technology, given that I grew up in a household which had the same two telephones and TVs for 35 years. Nonetheless, I find I want technology. I want PVR but refuse to get it until my current video/DVD machine dies. (yes, still use videotapes)
And I really want a smartphone. I don't even have a cellphone!! This is a really interesting want because I work at home and am mostly at home. When I go out, the last thing I want to do is work via email or phone. If I had a smartphone, that's exactly what I'd be doing, in addition to paying an additional monthly bill.
And it's not as if getting a smartphone would mean in increase in income. So why do I want one? Because they are so cute and because everyone else has one!!
Capitalism thrives on people being crunched for time. It means we don't have time to cook for ourselves, make our own clothes, do our own home repairs, walk our dog, and so on and so forth. . .and perhaps most importantly, no time to think.
When women entered the workplace it created a whole new market for advertisers to exploit.
And these days, advertisers start targeting infants with shows like Teletubbies. By the time a child is five, having and using a credit card is already hard-wired in his or her brain.
However, current levels of production and consumption are not sustainable. The planet cannot sustain it.
But we mostly do not redistribute, we discard and destroy.
Old cars were built to last a very long time. New ones are not built to last so long. In fact, obsolescence is built in to most products these days and that does not support sustainability.
We could actually live a lot longer on redistributed goods than you might think.
I have bought many second hand good and you can get them in very good quality. I've bought many books through Amazon or at the local second hand store which are clean and in good shape. Neither would sell a book that wasn't.
And I'd be fine receiving a second-hand book as a gift. What would matter is that the person who got me the book got me one I really wanted.
This is not random. It's a perfect example of consumerism and want, not need.
The whole idea of "saving" money through reductions/sales is just .
You didn't save anything. You spent eight dollars.
Only the finest quality for the princess.
Is it still consumerism and want (two rather negative labels) if one actually used it repeatedly?
I bought a pair of Cougar boots in the late '80's for twenty dollars, a rather good price at that time. I still have the boots, and wear them 3 or 4 times a year, having only replaced the laces once. I know I bought them at the time because the price was good, and they were popular, but I still think it was a rather good deal.
I have seven watches - and used to think that was excessive. But 5 of them were inherited from family members and I enjoy wearing them and remembering family. A close relative of mine now has at least 12 watches, all of them purchased to go with outfits. My friends in Africa wouldn't see the difference though, because to them, a watch is a functional item and you're fortunate to have one. Anything over that is for rich people.
I hate bulk trash week, when they have it in our neighborhood. All of these pick-up trucks trolling the neighborhood make me nervous. I worry that not all of them are here to pick up what is left at the curb, I really don't like it, when it is school bus time, and kids are out in the street.
I agree. And, if we didn't buy new, there would be even fewer jobs.
Being OCD, that would really creep me out. I can't buy used clothing. Just thinking about someone else wearing the garment, where they wore it, were they clean, would drive me nuts.
So, you never buy anything? If people do need things and wait for sales, what is wrong with that? If you are going to buy it anyway, reductions do save you money.
I buy used books myself. Almost all of my grad school books are purchased used. I don't buy other books at all now. I bought my husband a used out of print book for Christmas. But I DO NOT buy used books that SMELL LIKE DOG PEE. Did you miss that part? And considering that this was from a family member who gave everyone else gifts that cost over $100...and couldn't even buy me a clean gift...
You can consign me to the snob heap if it makes you happy. But I will forever maintain that it is rude to give someone a gift that is not even clean.
I live in a place so small that when my husband and I got married, we had to sell most of my furniture because it would not fit. I make $250 a month which I buy food and basic household supplies for two people with. I usually do not eat any meal but dinner on the days my husband works so that we save a little extra money on food because I can no longer afford to even buy bagels. All of my socks have holes in them, so I have stopped wearing socks unless I leave the house because I cannot afford to spend money on that. I'm trying to figure out right now how to conserve soap and laundry detergent more than I already do.
But I still would not give a used book caked with dirt or a used book that smelled like dog pee to anyone as a Christmas gift. There are limits to reusing things.
I got your point. Used, in good condition is fine, dirty - yikes!
I hope you get lots of cozy socks this year
They probably didn't buy it. It was probably sitting around their house. But I think this situation isn't really relevant to what we are talking about because it seems clear from what you are saying that this present had nothing to do with trying not to consume or saving money but was an attempt to be mean to you.
Anyway, I agree with Ziggy that the idea that you can go out and SPEND money but come home talking about how you SAVED money is a symptom of how we are caught up in consumerism and looking at the world in a warped way.
When I get my receipt back and under the amount I spent, it shows an amount "saved," I just roll my eyes because I know I haven't got that amount sitting in the bank. Instead, I have the amount spent withdraw from my account.
Plus, in many stores that do this, they mark everything up so they can say it's on sale but the amount the item supposedly cost if you didn't buy it on sale (which it always is) is completely arbitrary. So the "amount saved" is a fiction designed to make you feel better about having spent all the money you did spend.
When I look at prices, I don't look at how much "off" it is, but how the actual price I will pay compares to what the item is worth. Mini-Mac bought some shirts at The Gap on Friday that were $8 each and they were definitely worth $8, if not more, so I was willing to buy them. With my cake pop maker, they normally sell for $29 but you can get them for $10-15 if you hunt around. I paid $9 so I think I didn't overpay but I'm not convinced I got a deal either. But it was advertised as "save $20". And people were grabbing the $9 novelty appliances as if they were the deal of the century.
^^ I think it depends on whether you were going to buy the item, regardless of sale price. If it is something you need, you are saving money. If your washing machine breaks down and you need to get a new one, you will save money if you find one that you like on sale. Yes, you are still spending money, but you would be spending more if not for the sale price.
I think that with regard to clothing/fashion, we rarely "need" anything. But, sometimes we do want things. And sometimes we buy things that we want because they make us happy or they lift our spirits. There is nothing wrong with treating yourself once in a while, especially if you are not taxing yourself financially. There are times when just buying a new nail polish color can brighten a day that has been awful. That nail polish is a heck of a lot cheaper than a therapy session
Yes, but I'm a spoiled princess because I don't like having things that smell in my house ( and $250 a month is a diva royal income if there ever was one--we're having a royal dinner of leftover hamburger and potato casserole tonight, certainly the same sort of thing served to Her Majesty at Buckingham)...and she did buy them at the used bookstore--the tags were on them from the nearest one. Which begs the question as to why they would take an item that gross; but I've seen stuff that gross in there myself and it must sell.
Anyway...I apply what you are saying to grocery coupons. I constantly hear from people how they saved X amount using coupons but over half the time, they purchased food items that they would not normally buy. So there is no savings in that. I only clip a coupon if it is something that is already on my list. And sometimes end up not using it because often another brand is cheaper than the name brand minus the coupon. But the way grocery prices are right now, I still can't afford food. My list of staples is getting shorter every week. Bread and bagels are out. Yogurt and cheese are out. A full gallon of milk is out--cooking and my husband's cereal only requires a half gallon if we avoid drinking it at all. Fresh fruits other than bananas are out--enough bananas for him to have for lunch at work and that is all. I'm losing weight, anyway...He works on his feet on 12 hour shifts...so he gets the priority for food.
Outside of groceries, there are still real sales and genuine markdowns to be found. But you have to be savvy enough to find them, and you have to still determine the difference between wants and needs. Is it a bargain if you won't really use it? I think a lot of people have a hard time with that when they see a huge markdown. Black Friday certainly demonstrates that.
This gift giving talk reminds me an aunt and uncle of mine. They go to Europe every year, have a 1/2 million dollar house with a pool, but could only manage to give my grandmother ONE towel for christmas... talk about a tacky gift.
Would powdered milk be an option for you? Are you losing weight because you want to? Just take care to meet your nutritional needs. (((PDilemma))) Take care of yourself.
Sorry about the double post.
I understand exactly. I don't think gifts have to be expensive. But, I do think that some thought should be put into them. I would rather get a really cool pair of socks, that someone picked out specially for me, than some more expensive thing that makes you wonder if they even know you. It also makes me crazy when people who live in different states buy something in a local store, that you cannot return or exchange yourself, and it's something that is just ! I always shop in national chain department stores and include gift receipts.
When I point this out to people who are really into couponing, they claim that THEY use coupons responsibly and they don't buy things they don't need unlike all those other people out there who are crazy.
But then they post pictures on FB of what they bought and it's stuff you couldn't use up in a year or longer and it's all brand name stuff that cost a lot more than the generic version so it's unlikely the coupon saved them money. And then they post on FB about how they are giving the stuff to a shelter because they have no room in their house.
Of course, donating to a shelter is nice. I don't object to that. But buying stuff you can't use and have to then give away is not "saving money." It's the way they delude themselves about their behavior that I object to more so than the behavior.
It's also similar to "advertising doesn't effect me." People are lying to themselves and that makes them even more vulnerable to Madison Avenue than if they admitted that they buy things they don't need and that advertising *does* impact them. It's hard to combat the impact of advertising if you are denying there is one. Or pretending you are immune from it and it only impacts other people.
I don't watch a lot of tv and I don't watch the ads much when I do and I try to dissect every ad and find the flaws and the tricks when I do watch. But even so, I am SURE that I make buying decisions based on advertising. I think I don't, but I know I must. Why else do I completely reject certain brands without dong any research or find myself gravitating to certain brands when objectively another brand is just as good? It's because of years of advertising has given me a picture of that brand that speaks to me.
I taught a required communications course to tenth graders for awhile. There was a great section in the book about logical fallacies and persuasion that used examples from advertising and I would cover that and have them show examples of flawed premises of all kinds in advertising. It really would open their eyes to how things were being sold to them. And after the unit was done, they would sometimes still point out an ad they saw and what methods/fallacies it was using to me. Unfortunately, I don't think a lot of schools even think of including such things in the curriculum.
And to whoever asked...I need to lose five lbs or so. I'll be okay. These suddenly skyrocketing prices combined with less subbing (district is giving lots of incentives for teachers not to take days) and a huge car repair have killed us. Hopefully, once the car repair bill is paid off, we'll be okay again. The holidays have helped...free meals from other people. And my parents just told me they bought us some beef (ground, steaks, stew meat and a roast) as an early Christmas present that they planned to bring on Thanksgiving but my mom got sick. So hopefully, we'll pick it up Tuesday and that will help take the pressure off for buying staples. I've applied for some part time jobs...nothing. There isn't a lot in the immediate area and options elsewhere have to be weighed against the cost of gas...an $8 an hour job that is a 70 mile round trip to get to is going to cost a lot just for fuel...it's very frustrating. Thanks for the concern, cruisin.
This really seems to be a hot ticket item (ha - shopping pun ) for you. MacMadame. Why should you object to their delusions when it doesn't impact you?
I am a big thrift store shopper (mostly clothes and bags), and I admit with thrift stores I generally don't watch what I spend as much, because the ones I shop at are also charities. And I'd like to think I'm recycling leather and cloth.
But you're right--it's still consumerism. (But then so is my desire to watch figure skating events live.) What is my excuse? I'm not as bad as somebody else (which is easy for me as everyone around me buy stuff they don't use and leave them in the gargage--but that doesn't make me innocent.)
I have told my relatives for years to stop buying me Xmas and bday presents. I ask for a charitable donation instead. That doesn't stop them from getting me Valentine and Easter presents and all the little things I didn't ask for....On top of that, my relatives would donate to the charity they like as opposed to the ones I prefer as part of MY Christmas present. Oh well...at least to a good cause...
I wanna add that what affects me the most is the people around me. Like when my coworkers wear Talbots and Ann Taylors and they carry their Ipads, you know, I feel like Ann Taylor will not look too badly on me. I manage to get enough stuff out of the nice thrift store next to me, so I look acceptable among my coworkers (though not dressed in the high end obviouisly). I admit seeing people carrying Nook color and Ipad did affect me a bit.
Advertising definitely does effect us. The goal of advertising is to make you want the product, whether or not you need it. I worked in advertising for many years, as an AD. I am probably more aware of the BS of advertising than most, but I am just as capable of falling prey to the siren call. Ahh, the "Hidden Persuaders" at work!
Because rampant consumerism makes the world a worse place for everyone.
Thanks for posting the article. I really appreciate where the blogger comes from. It is something that everyone takes so much for granted about getting their needs and wants mixed up. But I think it is a matter of recognising it for what it is and then how you act on that.
We have a fantastic program here in Australian TV called the Gruen Transfer. You want to look at how advertisting works it basically says it all. Episodes are on Youtube if you want to have a look.
I am a pretty bad consumer. I usually don't get sucked much into what I see advertised on TV. But I do get annoyed at those products that try to make out problems that really haven't been problems before and people seemed to get by quite well before without them. Such the multitude of cleaning products out in the market place when something like bi-carb soda and elbow grease will do the trick just as well.
But if everyone lived like I did most companies would probably go broke.
PDilemma; I don't think you are a snob. I just think you're shopping at the wrong second hand stores. Most second-hand booksellers (physical or virtual) would not sell dirty books or books smelling of dog pee. In fact the poorest of the world's poor would probably not give dirty, smelly gifts for special occasions.
A book can be very old and still intact and clean. Equating second-hand with dirty and smelly is simply not an accurate claim.
People still wear Ann Taylor? My hopelessly shopaholic aunt buys TONS of Ann Taylor stuff when she finds them at a bargain and gives a lot of it to us because she quite literally can't fit it in her house anymore. And some of it she can't fit into, which means they've been sitting in her house NWT for years. My younger sister doesn't like the style (too old, she says) and I don't need career clothes because I work in a lab. I ended up giving a large amount of it to my broke coworker who recently got a teaching job and can no longer wear her old ratty clothes with holes. She was OVER THE MOON - this was a collection that included several full sets of Ann Taylor skirt/pant suits, some NWT, and yes, a skirt similarly priced to yours. I was over why someone would be willing to pay $126 for such a thing but I ask no questions anymore, I just dole out the goods to a willing recipient who will use them, and my mom's happy because I've helped clean out her closet! Every time I see my coworker now, she's wearing something that originally came from my aunt.
My mom did attempt to sell some of these clothes super-cheap in a yard sale, but nobody in our area is size 00/0. It's quite fortunate that my coworker is almost exactly the same size as my teeny mom.
So yes, having a shopaholic friend/relative a similar size as you is also another way to acquire nice clothing. Even if I don't wear Ann Taylor, I've acquired some really nice cashmere items this way...
I do buy clothes second-hand when it's really nice material, such as my wool full-lined Diane von Furstenberg dress that I've worn to several social events that took place in cold weather. Dunno how much it went for new, but I paid $25 for it on ebay.
My biggest steal second-hand was probably the Zojirishi breadmaker that I got off Craigslist for $40. And it actually WORKS, unlike my used $30 inkjet photo printer that refuses to print magenta. Sometimes things are originally made so badly that you might as well buy them new before they crap out on you...
I admit, art supplies are my weakness but I was very proud of myself when I was at Michaels the other day shopping for a big art project - I was looking at something I didn't need and told myself very literally, "No you don't need that, PUT IT DOWN" and I did.
And yes, I dislike the idea of consumer-heavy advertising but actually doing it is really fun. You get to think about ideas and brands and how to visually translate them, which is actually quite interesting. I'd like to be able to use it for good (social causes, non-profits, etc) rather than evil though.
^^ Ann Taylor, just did a huge brand overhaul. The store, in the mall near me, seems to be getting a lot more action. I don't shop there, because the clothes don't fit me (wrong body type and too tall for them). But, what I see in the windows, looks a bit more stylish.
Considering that she has said SEVERAL TIMES that she buys secondhand books herself, and considering that she has said SEVERAL TIMES that the dirty books were GIFTS--meaning that she didn't buy them herself--I don't think the problem is that she shops in the wrong stores. Nor do I think she has equated dirty and smelly with secondhand--although secondhand certainly can be.
Good read! Makes me feel better about how pretty much all our furniture is second-hand. It is easy to look at other people's lives and feel that you have to "catch up." But I don't. I can choose not to.
I think coupons and sales are a tool, but can easily lead one to spend more. You just have to always question yourself before you buy.
Nicely said. Coupons and sales only save you money if you buy what you need or want (if you can afford the "want" ). I think big box places are an issue re: savings as well. There are some things that are worth buying in bulk. But, we often go to Costco, Sam's Club (and the like) and buy too much of things with a shelf life, or impulse buy something we really won't use enough to justify the bulk. When you throw out half of what you buy, there is no savings.
Justs wanted to throw in, brand name products are not always more expensive for the same thing. Sometimes a brand can actually be better than the off brand product. For instance, I have tried off brand bran flakes, I have not found any that are even remotely as good as Kellog's. So, saving on off brand, if you won't eat it, again doesn't save money. I also buy Skim Plus milk, I like the taste of it better than regular skim milk, and it has added calcium.
I find that people can justify any thing they buy. it's always those other folks that are doing it "wrong" and don't understand their own actions.
I don't think anyone is necessarily doing it wrong. I think we all have different needs/wants/tastes. For one person sacrificing taste for a few cents is worth it, or necessary, for others it isn't. For one person buying a new sweater on sale feels like saving money. For another, if you don't need a sweater, you didn't save money. I also think there are wants that satisfy emotional needs. I have bought something I really didn't need, when I was feeling down, it cheered me up. There is something to be said for that. As long as it's kept in check and you don't blow your budget. I think need and want vary person to person, physical to emotional.
Here is a personal example of different views of need/vs/want. Our main bathroom is in need of moderate (not full) renovation. It's 25 years old, the sinks are showing some rust around the edges, the floor tile is cracked in spots. My husband wants raised panel wainscoting around the living room walls. Both projects are about the same cost. I think doing the wainscoting is a gross waste of money - he has wanted it for years. He thinks the bathroom can wait - I think it should be done before the wainscoting. We each see our preferred project as more necessary. I see the bathroom as adding more value to the house, I don't see the wainscoting adding anything, but...
I think most of what I buy are want and not need. Take food for example, do I really need to buy the oven roasted chicken at the market for 7-8 $? Nope. I could've have easily bought a can of tuna for dinner for 97 cents and saved lots of cash.
Separate names with a comma.