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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Seven Things I Really Don't Need: Part 1

Dani and I have approached the halfway mark in our facilitating of Financial Peace University at our local church. The Bible-based money management program has attracted about 60 participants, some of whom are beginning to experience some success in their battle against debt.

This week's lesson was about the marketing gimmicks that companies and advertising gurus use to lure us into buying tons of junk we don't need. Think you're immune to their schemes? Think again. A lot of their tactics are subliminal and extremely, extremely clever.

Back in 2006 USA Today reported that some stores have experienced an increase in sales by manipulating people's sense of smell. The Sony Style store, for example, pumps the subtle fragrances of vanilla and mandarin oranges into the store to make you feel so relaxed that you let your guard down. Bloomingdale's uses the faint whiff of baby powder in the baby section and suntan lotion in the summer aisles to help entice people into buying related products.

Companies do extensive studies to figure out how best to hit you. A study of credit card use at McDonald's found that people spent 47% more when using credit instead of cash. It's easier to spend more with a credit card. Plain and simple. And companies are doing surveys and focus groups and other studies every day to learn how to target us—you!—and make you buy stuff.

Repetition. Product placement. Logos. Radio. TV. We all like to think that those advertising schemes are tricking other people, but just because you may be aware of their methods doesn't mean you shouldn't be on your guard.

Dave Ramsey—the guy behind Financial Peace University—lists seven things that people are continually tricked into purchasing that we really don't need. I'll list his seven things, and then I'll list mine (things that are pitfalls for me that I know I don't need, but I sometimes end up buying anyway).
  1. Luxury cable TV packages.
  2. Private schools.
  3. Elaborate vacations.
  4. Eating out.
  5. Expensive gadgets.
  6. Name brand clothing.
  7. Expensive hobbies.
Dave doesn't deny that the above things are fun from time to time—a vacation on the beaches of Florida sounds nice, doesn't it? So does a round of golf with the guys!—but when you're struggling to get out of debt there are sacrifices you have to make. Those seven unnecessary things listed above are great places to start. You don't have to sacrifice them forever, but if you don't start taking the right steps toward financial freedom then you'll simply never get free.

Now, for me, I don't watch a lot of TV, and neither does Dani, so we don't have any kind of cable or satellite TV package. There's a few shows that we like to watch, but we can usually find them online. Neither of us are really into expensive gadgets or brand name clothing, and we don't have any expensive hobbies. But we're not without our pitfalls. Trust me! Want to know what mine are?

Tune in tomorrow!

(You're hooked now aren't you?)

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