Broker Check

Consumerism: Planned Obsolescence

| October 11, 2018
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I recently upgraded to the most recent operating system and I’m just waiting for the inevitable slowdown. Turns out Apple purposely slows your phone down if it gets too old. They say it’s to save you from ruining your phone or having it blow up in your face. You can read their statement by click here. Naturally, iPhone users had always suspected it anecdotally. When Apple admitted it, there were quite a few angry nerds. I was chief among them.

The problem is my iPhone has 169 GB of storage out of 256 GB total. I don’t really need a new phone; it’s just that the new one is amazing. It reminds me of the Ginsu knife infomercials in the wee hours of the morning. It slices, it dices. It can cut a penny and then cut this tomato. Which, by the way, is not something you do much. Nonetheless, the siren song of the new and improved iPhone may be too much to resist.

And therein lies a psychological element of financial planning that we need to address. With the cornucopia of gizmos spewing from the fount of capitalism, we’ve got some challenges to address and some decisions to make.

The Challenges of Consumerism

First, a disclaimer: I’m not monetary monk sworn to an austere existence. I’m guilty of wanting the newest and the brightest and shiniest. But my disclaimer is also my first step to recovery. Admit that you’re addicted to the new bright shiny thing.

Second, acknowledge that there is a war for your eyeballs and your credit card. Like you, I will search for home remedies for male pattern baldness (hypothetically) on Google. Then I’ll go to YouTube and watch the latest hilarious cat videos. Lo and behold in the margins are advertisements for magic pills that will restore my once luxurious mane (hypothetically). It’s creepy and convenient. Why? Because if something on the internet is free, you are what is for sale. Television, Radio, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are free because they are selling you to magic pill salespeople. You already know this, but you need to be on a war footing.

The last challenge of consumerism is easy credit. I won’t take too much time to explain trickle down debt that falls from the Federal Reserve to credit cards for unemployed college kids. That’s another blog entirely. Just remember what a wise man once said, “The borrower is the servant of the lender.” With low economic IQ nationally, wimpy consumers are chanting, “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

Decisions to Make

If we have to decide on how to spend our hard earned money, let’s ask ourselves a battery of questions. Think of it as a job interview for your purchases. Here’s what I recommend, but let me know if you think of any more:

  • Will this purchase bring me complete and lasting joy? If yes, purchase it right now. If no, proceed to the next question.
  • Is this purchase a want or a need?
  • If this purchase is a need, does it come with unnecessary fanciness at a premium?
  • If this purchase is a want, how long until you wake up with a buyer’s remorse?
  • If this purchase is a want, how long will it be cool?
  • If I don’t make this purchase, what catastrophe will befall me?
  • Who am I trying to impress with this purchase?
  • Do I already have one of these things in my garage?

Obviously, there are some other questions that may be even better than this amazing list. The key is to pause and let the impulse fade. One thing salespeople hate to hear from a potential customer is, “Let me think about it.” Why? Because time creates a space for logic to seep into our brains. The impulse passes and we learn more about the purchase and even more about ourselves.

As always, we are here to help, so feel free to click here to contact us if you have any questions.

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