Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dumb Marketers or Dumber Consumers?

Since when did spending money equate to saving money? After plopping down on the couch for some good ole tube watching time, I couldn't help but realize how many companies were trying to appeal to my desire to save money. Here's the thing: they got it all wrong. Instead of asking me to change my car insurance provider to "save" hundreds of dollars, how about you offer coverage at no cost so I can use the money for an upcoming vacation? Rather than tell me I can get a ton of features from your cable/telephone/internet service for only $99/month - a "bargain" compared to competitors - cut me a check to deposit into my emergency savings account.

I've always believed that saving money was about setting money aside for future use, whether it was for a vacation, unexpected expenses or having 'enough' to comfortably use for investing (i.e. secure an amount of money I wouldn't mind "losing"; not that that's the intention, but I digress). Some may argue that saving is about, or also includes, reducing one's expenditures. Well, help me understand this...what good is the amount of money you didn't spend if you don't set it aside (i.e. save it)? Most folks spend their "savings" on other expenses. Here's a great example: you go to the grocery store and when you check out, you learn that because a number of items were discounted and you used coupons, you "saved" $25. What do you do with that $25? Do you think, "Gee, I was intending to spend $75 to purchase these items, but only spent $50, let me set aside the remainder of what I budgeted" or do you say "great, now I can go to happy hour!"?

I could care less about what you do with the money you did not spend because of reduced prices, but I am encouraging you to be clear about what saving money is. And if you're not setting the bucks aside for future use, whatever that use may be, and particularly in a savings vehicle (piggy bank, anyone?), then I'm afraid to tell you that you're simply spending less. Kudos for finding a bargain ;)

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