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  1. #1

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    Interesting article: consumerism and want vs. need


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    Bookmarked to read later ... thanks!

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    Really nicely written. Says the girl completely guilty of rampant consumerism.

    I need to get over my need of sparkly items...

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    Quote Originally Posted by PrincessLeppard View Post
    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 .

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    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.
    Actual bumper sticker series: Jesus is my co-pilot. Satan is my financial advisor. Budha is my therapist. L. Ron Hubbard owes me $50.

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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame View Post
    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.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vesperholly View Post
    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.
    Actual bumper sticker series: Jesus is my co-pilot. Satan is my financial advisor. Budha is my therapist. L. Ron Hubbard owes me $50.

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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spareoom View Post
    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.
    Use Yah Blinkah!

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    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!!


    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame View Post
    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.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    It would not, however, be sustainable for no one to ever buy anything new.
    However, current levels of production and consumption are not sustainable. The planet cannot sustain it.

    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.
    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.



    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.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spareoom View Post
    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.
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    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.
    Only the finest quality for the princess.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziggy View Post
    This is not random. It's a perfect example of consumerism and want, not need.
    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.

    Interesting topic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GarrAarghHrumph View Post
    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.
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    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.
    I agree. And, if we didn't buy new, there would be even fewer jobs.

    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.
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ziggy View Post
    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.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Japanfan View Post

    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.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    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

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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    But I DO NOT buy used books that SMELL LIKE DOG PEE.
    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.
    Actual bumper sticker series: Jesus is my co-pilot. Satan is my financial advisor. Budha is my therapist. L. Ron Hubbard owes me $50.

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    ^^ 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
    Last edited by cruisin; 11-26-2011 at 07:48 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame View Post
    , 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.
    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.

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