Do You Really Need It?

October 18, 2010

Last night I was watching the Home Shopping Network (HSN) and quickly realized how addicting this program is. The hosts are so very enthusiastic about each product that they instill the fear of “missing out” on a good deal, that’s it’s the deal of alifetime and one that cannot be missed. Of course, they repeat this process for each product, until all of a sudden, one begins to get swept up in the emotion of the situation and begins to believe there is an actual “need” for this item. One surely cannot live without it. They have people call in to indicate how many of this designer’s purses they already have as if to say, I’ve done it, so should you.

If we step back we can see real marketing at work. Show a product and then create the need. How many purses, or whatever do we really need? I’m not discounting that someone may really want a new bag for the season and there may be a deal to be had on this show. However, there are times that I’ve gotten caught up in buying something only to receive it, find it’s really not so wonderful and return it. Thank goodness, HSN also has a great return policy, except for the shipping expense. So no harm done. I’m not slamming HSN. It’s really the midnight shopping phenomenon. It could also be on the internet. There are times when I’m bored with my life and I decide that it’s time to buy myself something and midnight is a convenient time to shop on the internet. That’s the great things about the internet; it’s open 24×7. Any time and any place around the world it’s possible to shop.

Now let’s take a look at what’s behind all this midnight shopping. Is it really looking for a good deal? Let’s put this one possible situation aside, for those that really want to buy something and have carefully thought out the purchase. For the rest of us, there’s an emotional need that hasn’t been satisfied and we use shopping as therapy. It’s even been given a name – “retail therapy”. Wow, the common folk have a psychological term for shopping to satisfy unmet needs and it’s totally accepted. Let’s do some retail therapy is a battle cry of the girls for a Thursday night movie and shopping evening.

Ok, it’s fun. But let’s also assume that they can afford what they buy. How about the woman that already had 24 other purses by this designer? Does anyone need 25 purses? Remember the buzz about Emelda Marcos and her shoes? Well she was really rich.

When I was very much younger I learned to make choices. Fend off the design for the small stuff in order to get the big stuff. I didn’t buy costume jewelry in order to save for real gold. The result is that I own real jewelry that people are always eyeing. It may not always be quite as trendy, but it’s always in good taste since the real thing is timeless. And, when gold hit major highs last year, I sold some of what I didn’t need for real money to pay some bills.  Foregoing a few $200 purses adds up to a major vacation, for example. I took many vacations to foreign lands over the years as a result of my “delayed gratification” program. In the end, I had the opportunity to do what many leave for their later years – travel alot.

Back to HSN – now they make it really easy to buy by offering flex payments. Only pay a bit each month they tell us. Of course we know that so many flex payments add up to debt. And this country is in big trouble from so much debt. Again, foregoing gratification now for later allows us to have the big items, like preparing for retirement. If we don’t start saving when we are young, the money won’t be there when we are old. That’s how it works. I’m so glad that I started to save at 26, putting money away slowly over the years, so that I can have a retirement. So before you buy, ask yourself, “Do you need it?”


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