Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Malls, Advertising, Window Shopping, and Sales

I think malls should be banned. Ok, not exactly, but did you ever think about it- a very good possible reason that so many people are drowning in debt is because of the whole "mall culture"?
Growing up, the girls in my class would hang out at the mall together. Doing what? Nothing specific, just wandering around, window shopping, and things of the sort... for hours. My mom would never let me join them. "What for?" she'd say. "What is the point of hanging out specifically at a mall? To tempt you to spend money on things you don't need that only came to your attention once you hung out in the mall and saw them selling them?"

As a kid, I'd often get frustrated with my mom for not being allowed to do what all the "cool girls" did, but in retrospect, she was correct.
Humans are very influenced by all sorts of messages around us. Retailers spend billions on advertising; the advertising industry is booming. Why are people paying so much for advertising, and what is advertising accomplishing?
Simple- advertising manages to convince you, subconsciously, that what you've been perfectly fine living without until this point in your life is in fact a necessity, and if you don't spend the money now and purchase it immediately, you will die. Ok, not die, but your life will be infinitely better, you'll be happier and in a pure state of bliss, if only you spend the money on that product. And if you don't, you won't be able to achieve that same state of happiness.

BS, I tell you.

Advertising works, but only because it manages to convince you of things which are utter falseness.
This is a big part of the reason why I chose not to have a television in my house, nor do I read pop magazines. I don't need the advertising shoved in my face, trying to make me feel that my terrific life isn't good enough, because I don't have the latest gizmos and gadgets.

When you're in the mall, you see store fronts that are set up in a way that they are essentially advertisements. Not only that, there are many other advertisements to try to lure you into the stores. All the blitz and bling in front of your face only serves to awaken a sense of lack.

I don't go to malls to hang out, even when they have air conditioning which I don't have in my apartment (and so far am managing just fine without) and it's a boiling hot day.
But much worse than hanging out in the mall just because is specifically going window shopping. Because once you see something, you start wanting something and are tempted to spend money on it. Until you saw that product, you hadn't desired it at all.

Window shopping may seem like a frugal thing to do, because its officially "not spending money", but I'd bet that a good number of impulse purchases started off as mere, innocent "window shopping excursions".

My friend invited me to come with her today to a sale they're having near my house. All sorts of equipment for homes, children's furniture, toys, etc... being sold for rock bottom prices.
"Penny," she said, "you're coming to the sale with me, right?"
Nope. I don't have anything I'm looking for. I'm content with what we have. Why go someplace so that I can spend money on something that I don't currently feel is missing from my life?
Last time my friend convinced me to go with her to a clothing sale in one of the neighbor's homes, just to "keep her company". The products being sold were beautiful, albeit expensive, and little ol' frugal me nearly spent 50 bucks on something I definitely did not need.
Fortunately, my sanity prevailed, and I walked out not a cent poorer, but oh boy, I sure was tempted.

Nope, going to sales is not a good idea. Black friday sales, when certain things are dirt cheap, end up being really costly as people get lured into buying so many expensive things that aren't on sale... You go thinking you'll be saving money, and walk out wondering how it was that you wasted so much money.

Me? I'm not a window shopping person. Not a mall person. And not a sales person (unless its food that I need on sale).

I shop when I need something. I don't venture out when I don't, even just to check out "what is on sale". And that's how I save the most money.

How do you feel about going to one time sales? Garage sales, yard sales, rummage sales, etc? Window shopping? Just hanging out in the mall? Do you feel that when you do go to one of these sales or do one of these things, that you end up wasting money and spending on unnecessary things, or do you find them just good entertainment and not money wasters?
How do you feel about advertising? Are you as against it as I am, or no? Do you do things to limit your exposure and your kids exposure to advertising, and if so, what do you do so they don't get lured into spending via advertising? Do you have a TV and do your kids watch shows with commercials? See flashy ads in magazines? Etc... Or do you feel you're impervious to advertising?

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