consumerism http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/304/all en-US 5 Ways Self Storage Units Are More Sad Museums Than Savvy Solutions http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-self-storage-units-are-more-sad-museums-than-savvy-solutions <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-self-storage-units-are-more-sad-museums-than-savvy-solutions" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2270207802_1c16be06c0.jpg" alt="self storage" title="self storage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="204" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>This week I did an intervention on Sarah, one of my dearest friends. It wasn't the first time. Over the last few years I have unsuccessfully attempted to get her to seek help for a problem that has cost her conservatively $48,000 and put financial and emotional stress on her family.</p> <p>This week, after over five years of trying to manage her problem, she finally hit rock bottom. She once again had to borrow money from her family &mdash; this time to pay for her daughter's healthcare. Sarah had $800 of the $900 doctor bill in the bank, but she'd already earmarked that money for the horrible monkey on her back. Sarah has a substance abuse problem &mdash; but not with drugs. Sarah has a problem with self storage.</p> <p>Sarah used to have financial stability. But five years ago she made a major life change when she decided, at age 40, to adopt a child and become a single parent. Sarah sold her beautiful 3000 square foot home so she could afford to quit her high-powered job and be a stay at home mom until her daughter could start pre-school. She moved into a 1200 square foot apartment in a good school district. This was all part of a good, long term plan.</p> <p>Unfortunately, she then made what became possibly the worst financial decision of her entire life: She put the 1800 square feet worth of possessions that didn't fit into the apartment into self storage.</p> <p>Using a technique that drug dealers use to reel in future customers, the storage company offered Sarah, the first time user, free product to ensure her loyalty. Convinced that she would be able to sell, donate or otherwise dispose of her extra stuff during the &quot;First 30 Days Free Rent&quot; period that her storage company offers to all new customers, Sarah moved her designer guest room furniture, her Christmas decorations, her art collection, etc into four of the cheapest storage units available.</p> <p>&quot;I'm just going to use this as a staging area to get organized,&quot; she told me at that point in time. &quot;That way, I'll have four weeks to figure stuff out and won't have to make any financial decisions about what to get rid of under duress.&quot;</p> <p>She never moved out.</p> <p>Although she has plenty of very valuable things in storage, as we surveyed the contents of one of Sarah's units earlier this week, she finally did the math. Even if she pulled everything out of the unit and set it on fire in the parking lot, it would still be a better financial decision than keeping it in storage for another month. 5 years x $200 a month per unit x 4 units = $48000. And that total doesn't even account for the money spent on gasoline to get her to and from her storage or all the late fees she's paid on other bills because she chose to pay her storage bill on time so her stuff wouldn't be seized for non-payment. The phone company can turn off your service, but the storage company can auction off your <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,246738,00.html">dream diary, fake IDs, and herpes medication</a> to the highest bidder.</p> <p>Although Sarah's situation may be the worst that I know of personally, she's hardly alone. <a href="http://www.selfstorage.org/SSA/Home/AM/ContentManagerNet/ContentDisplay.aspx?Section=Home&amp;ContentID=4228">According to the Self Storage Association</a>, 50% of storage unit renters are storing what won't fit into their homes. 1 out of every 11 Americans rents storage.</p> <p>Watching Sarah's horrible journey has made me realize that, although self storage (like easy credit), can be beneficial to a percentage of the population, it's a pact with Satan for many folks who don't have an iron fist over their finances or excellent time management skills. Quite simply, it's bad on several fronts.</p> <h3>Self storage is a bad investment</h3> <p>I called four different storage companies with units in my area of Los Angeles. The cheapest price for the smallest storage space, a 5 x 5 unit, in my neighborhood is $67 per month. The first month costs just a mere $1, but that's not counting the one time only $22 &quot;Administration Fee&quot; that they'll also tack onto the first 30 days.</p> <p>Although all those numbers sound doable financially, if I rented this space, I'd be out a whopping $760 in the first 12 months, all to rent a space that's the size of my laundry room. In other words, stuff that isn't functional enough to put in my house and use every day would become more and more expensive with each passing year.</p> <p>(On a side note, I had to hang up on three out of the four storage sales reps because I was getting such a hard sell, that they continued to demand my personal information even after I'd told them that their rental prices were beyond my budget.)</p> <h3>Self storage can lead to overconsumption</h3> <p>Self storage is like diet food for material goods. It fools the mind by fooling the eye. If your clutter isn't visible in your house, do you really have a spending problem?</p> <p>The first self storage facilities were built in Texas in the late 1960's. It took 25 years to build the first one BILLION square feet of storage. But it took just eight years (1998-2005) to add the second billion. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average 1960's home was 1200 square feet. In 2004 the average home had ballooned to almost twice that size to 2330 square feet.</p> <p>Bigger houses are harder to fill up, which may explain why Americans buy twice the number of consumer goods than the citizens of any other first world nation. (Okay, so we're a geographically huge country, but if we've got such big homes, why do we need an additional billion square feet of storage space?) The environmental cost of creating, transporting and finally housing two billion square feet of unused possessions is mindboggling.</p> <h3>Self storage can waste time as well as money</h3> <p>Self storage companies count on the basic physics of human laziness, that is: Objects at rest, remain at rest...in storage. After all, who wants to spend their precious free time, digging through boxes looking for stuff? Sarah, in her efforts to deal with her storage problems, has spent hundreds of hours &quot;organizing&quot; her stuff in storage, attempting to repack it more efficiently so she can scale down to smaller, cheaper units.</p> <h3>Self storage is urban blight</h3> <p>In all fairness, one of the storage companies in my area is housed in the hollowed-out facade of an Art Deco office building, so that's quite pretty. But for the most part, self storage facilities are architectural monsters. In addition to being ugly as sin, they bring in few jobs or sales tax benefits to the community, compared to other structures of similarly huge proportions.</p> <h3>Self storage can keep you from living in the moment</h3> <p>There are certain groups of people, like those who live on sail boats and soldiers fighting overseas, or the newly moved, who can follow their dreams because they can temporarily stash their possessions in storage. Storage gives them the wiggle room to experience life without being connected to personal belongings. For more than half the storage renters, however, this is simply not the case.</p> <p>Once a month, one of the storage companies in my neighborhood holds an &quot;estate sale&quot; where the owner of the company sells off the contents of units that were seized for non-payment of rent. What odd, desperate or lazy story is behind this lapse of judgment? Why the renters failed to move their possessions out of storage before the rent was due is always a mystery. What tales of woe are behind the abandoned photograph albums, bronzed baby shoe ashtrays or the hand-embroidered vintage napkins? Why weren't these items, so obviously full of sentimental value, kept in the home where they could be used and admired?</p> <p>A clearer narrative about why items were acquired is visible from a lot of the sale merchandise, however. You can almost hear the nagging spouses behind the half dozen exercise bikes and Thighmasters for sale each month or the siren's call of Martha Stewart behind the hundreds of half-finished craft items.</p> <p>Whether they are nostalgic artifacts from the past or wishful self-help tools for the future, none of these objects relate to the present day lives of their former owners, which is probably why they were put into storage to begin with. These monthly sales are sad museums, a collection of failed ventures and unfulfilled dreams of what could be.</p> <p>As with every successful product, self storage provides a powerful storyline for the consumer to buy into: that preserving memories of the past or the potential of the future through material goods is valuable. For the past five years, Sarah has denied the chaos that keeping so much stuff in storage brings to her daily life. Her dream of returning to her former standard of living in the future has cost her the very security she wants for her daughter and their quality of life today. $48,000 could have gone toward her daughter's college fund. $48,000 could have paid for a lifetime of vacations. It could have been a down payment on a house.</p> <p><i>Up until this week, I think Sara actually believed that she would one day find her way back into a big house in the hills, even though she's a self-employed, single parent facing a global financial downturn. As I photographed her possessions to list on Craigslist, she fretted about selling her formal dining room set, because she wanted to pass it on to her daughter as a family heirloom. That her daughter, who is currently in kindergarten, might not like the style of the set as an adult and would have no emotional connection to an object that she'd only ever seen in storage, never crossed her mind. </i></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is a guest post by Max Wong, who blogs at <a href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/">My Roman Apartment</a>. Read more by Max:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/why-100k/">Why 100k?</a></li> <li><a href="http://thescreentrade.blogspot.com/2008/01/striking-out-in-new-year.html">Striking Out in the New Year</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/gadzukes-10-ways-to-use-up-your-zucchini-bounty">Gadzukes! 10 Ways to Use Up Your Zucchini Bounty</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-self-storage-units-are-more-sad-museums-than-savvy-solutions">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-why-self-storage-is-a-really-bad-idea">7 Reasons Why Self-Storage Is a Really Bad Idea</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-things-to-throw-out-today">25 Things to Throw Out Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-ways-to-count-and-cash-in-your-change">Best Ways to Count (and Cash in) Your Change</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-makeup-items-you-should-ditch-today">7 Makeup Items You Should Ditch Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-this-one-thing-a-day-to-defeat-clutter-forever">Do This One Thing a Day to Defeat Clutter Forever</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Organization consumerism money management self storage Mon, 05 Oct 2009 13:00:03 +0000 Max Wong 3661 at http://www.wisebread.com What's Your Financial Philosophy? What It Means To Live Below Your Means http://www.wisebread.com/whats-your-financial-philosophy-what-it-means-to-live-below-your-means <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/whats-your-financial-philosophy-what-it-means-to-live-below-your-means" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/financial-philosophy.jpg" alt="financial philosophy, live below your means, save money" title="What&#039;s your financial philosophy?" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all want to try to live below our means, but we all approach this goal from various directions. There are pretty much just three basic ways to do it: <strong><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-without-a-job-part-3-cut-spending">cut costs</a>, </strong><strong>increase your income</strong><strong> or do a bit of both.</strong></p> <p>There are some terms that are bandied around that describe these strategies:</p> <blockquote><p><strong>You can either be a frugalist</strong> -- someone who is generally thrifty and who strives to keep costs low. Your goal is to keep a lid on spending and to keep a careful watch on outgo.</p> <p><strong>Or you can be a capitalist </strong>-- someone who focuses on income generation and making money. You work on ways to raise your earnings and emphasize the income portion of your balance sheet.</p></blockquote> <p>Most people I know are a little of both, although I believe that people are predisposed towards a particular philosophy when it comes to trying to save money.&nbsp; There's a term coined to describe someone who takes the hybrid approach: <strong>it's called being a frugal capitalist.</strong>&nbsp; I'd certainly describe myself this way, although I admit that I do gravitate towards spending more of my waking moments pondering over wealth building strategies rather than deliberating what it is I can do to shrink my budget.</p> <p>As we discuss these financial orientations, I thought to share with you some additional truisms that I've personally found interesting.</p> <h3>Do You Live Below Your Means or Earn More Than You Spend?</h3> <p>When you live below your means, I've taken it to mean as <em>&quot;spending less than you earn&quot;</em>. This implies that you're trying to cap your spending and assuming a ceiling on your earnings. This perspective begins with establishing how much we earn then working to make our spending fit those parameters.</p> <p>To spend less than we earn, we concentrate on strategies that help us to stop overspending, to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/six-steps-to-eliminating-your-debt-painlessly">get rid of debt</a> and to curb our shopping habits. We fuss over our budget, wrestle with personal budget software and become adept bargain hunters. We basically spend our time working around our money limitations. </p> <p>I actually prefer to think about saving money a little differently. If you think about it, spending less than you earn actually has a flip-side: <em>&quot;earn more than you spend</em>&quot;. I like the phrasing here a lot more, since it places emphasis on &quot;earnings&quot;, and removes any insinuation of financial limits.&nbsp; At the same time, some people may feel that such a statement may also have an underlying consumerist bent, with the idea of &quot;earning more&quot; having the connotation of profligacy.&nbsp; To some, it may suggest that having higher income could also imply higher spending.&nbsp; </p> <p>I don't think of it this way -- I've decided to subscribe to the &quot;earn more&quot; philosophy because I find it generally more inspiring.&nbsp; <strong>When you think of your professional and financial future, wouldn't you prefer to imagine that &quot;sky's the limit&quot;?&nbsp; </strong></p> <h3>What's Your Financial Philosophy?</h3> <p>We only have so much time to spend in the day thinking about how to take care of our finances. I've found that with that time, I've always preferred to focus on those ideas that give me the inside scoop on how to become a millionaire, how to build wealth, increase income, and invest to grow my net worth -- all topics that mainly fall in the realm of the capitalist. Others may feel more comfortable and more empowered by walking the path of a pure frugalist.&nbsp; </p> <p>Either way, I think that to some extent, this is just mincing words. What's important is that we do what we're most comfortable doing when it comes to our money. When we enjoy how we handle our finances, it increases our chances of achieving our goals and reaching financial success and independence one day.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/silicon-valley-blogger">Silicon Valley Blogger</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-your-financial-philosophy-what-it-means-to-live-below-your-means">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/does-living-frugally-hurt-the-economy">Does living frugally hurt the economy?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-boost-your-finances-while-you-sleep">7 Ways to Boost Your Finances While You Sleep</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chinese-money-habits-how-my-culture-influences-my-attitudes-toward-money">Chinese Money Habits - How My Culture Influences My Attitudes Toward Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-quick-financial-moves-to-make-today-at-lunch">10 Quick Financial Moves to Make Today at Lunch</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/living-within-your-means-isnt-nasty">Living within your means isn&#039;t nasty</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance capitalism consumerism frugality income live below your means Wed, 04 Feb 2009 22:38:34 +0000 Silicon Valley Blogger 2803 at http://www.wisebread.com How many human lives is a flat panel TV worth? http://www.wisebread.com/stampede-death-walmart-black-friday <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/stampede-death-walmart-black-friday" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/death_0.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I think that the iPhone is a neato gadget. I couldn't believe that people stood in line for them. The final Star Wars movie was decent - I waited for the DVD. Some people camped outside the damn theater.</p> <p>There are very few things that are important enough, to me, to stand in line to purchase. This is partly because I don't like people, and thus try to avoid milling among them for any amount of time. This is also because there's just no purchasable item that I find worth my time. It's also, partly, a product of my upbringing. My mother is simply not much of a bargain shopper, and certainly never waited outside of a store for more than a few minutes (nevermind hours) in order to get inside and snatch up the first discounted television set that she saw.</p> <p>This is why I am so completely baffled that a 270 pound man was trampled to death by rabid shopopers at a Wal-mart in Long Island this past Friday.</p> <p>Now, stampedes happen. Whenever people desperately flee to a new area and arrive at a bottleneck of somekind, someone is going to get hurt. You hear about it occasionally on the news: pligrims trampled in Ramadan pilgrimage. Nigerians tramped in riot. These are stampedes that make a tiny bit more sense in m brain: religious pilgrimages are emotional events, involving lots of activity and numerous people. While I am not religious, I can see why this might happen in, say, Mecca. Or in a poor country where people are scrounging for food.</p> <p>But this happened in Long Island. In the USA. Over Walmart merchandise.</p> <p>Let me repeat this: a man was trampled to death.&nbsp;A temporary employee of Wal-mart, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/30/nyregion/30walmart.html">Jdimytai Damour</a>, was crushed under the feet of shoppers eager to get their hands on cheap. Chinese-made goods. Shopper literally broke down the glass doors to the Wal-mart where Damour was working, and he remained under the door as hundreds of people clambored over the top of him. Imagine stepping over a man lying prone beneath a sheet of glass. Can you fathom that?&nbsp;Could you? For what? What could possibly allow human beings to behave like homicidal lemmings.</p> <p>I don't doubt that many people shop at Wal-mart in order to save money, but I seriously doubt that this insane mob of people consisted mostly of suburban mothers looking for jumbo-sized diaper packs. No, these were people looking for slashed prices on electronics, outdoor gear, and clothing. These were bargain shoppers, for sure, but no one who stepped on Damour's chest was there because they had run out of bread and heating oil.</p> <p>What have we come to? Is 20% off of a LCD television really worth the life of a man like Damour? Is it worth anything? How can anyone stand in line for this stuff? Wal-mart, really? Listen, I know I can be an elitist sometimes, but I&nbsp;occasionally shop at Walmart. But regardless of how good the deals are, how could any, or all, of the merchadise inside a Wal-mart be worth the life of a single person?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stampede-death-walmart-black-friday">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/for-the-best-deals-of-the-year-shop-labor-day-and-skip-black-friday">For the Best Deals of the Year, Shop Labor Day and Skip Black Friday</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/behold-the-secrets-of-the-grocery-store">Behold: The Secrets of the Grocery Store</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/unbearably-stupid-packaging">Dumbest packaging ever?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/all-about-black-friday">All About Black Friday</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-people-go-crazy-on-black-friday">Why People Go Crazy on Black Friday</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping black friday consumerism death Jdimytai Damour sales shopaholic shopping stampede Thanksgiving trampled Wal-Mart Sun, 30 Nov 2008 11:20:11 +0000 Andrea Karim 2612 at http://www.wisebread.com Why do Facebook Ads not take me seriously? http://www.wisebread.com/why-does-facebook-ads-hate-single-heterosexual-women <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-does-facebook-ads-hate-single-heterosexual-women" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/oprah and sluts.jpg" alt="Oprah and ho-girls" title="Lose weight! Meet sexy singles!" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="216" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It&#39;s not exactly a secret that women ages 18-55 are a sought-after consumer demographic. According to a non-profit report issued by the YMCA, &quot;U.S. women spent some $7 billion a year, or an average of about $100 each, on cosmetics and beauty products.&quot; So, it&#39;s no surprise that social networking sites like Facebook want to capitalize on our deep pockets and obsession with appearance. </p> <p>I&#39;m not against consumerism or advertising. Hell, Google pays me for blogging using ad money, so I&#39;m not about to bite the hand that feeds me. Online social networking allows companies the unique ability to gather demographic information (given willingly by the users!) that they can use to deliver targeted ads. I actually think it&#39;s a fairly useful tool, and it should solve one of my biggest pet peeves of advertising: being bombarded by ads for things I don&#39;t need (vacuum cleaners) or care for (Monday night football). Honestly, the idea of having a company know enough about me to provide me with advertisements for things that I might WANT is fairly appealing.</p> <p>Here&#39;s what Facebook knows about me: I am single, and 31 years old. I am female. I&#39;ve been known to date men.</p> <p>When you sign up for Facebook, you enter a good deal of information about yourself. You don&#39;t HAVE to provide information about your sexual orientation or marital status, but I wasn&#39;t really thinking about the implications of all that when I signed up. Since I wasn&#39;t interested in dating via Facebook, I said I was interested in men and women for friendship, dating, etc. </p> <p>And although I didn&#39;t provide this info to Facebook, I also admit the following:</p> <ul> <li>I do meet and date people online. </li> <li>I could stand to lose a few pounds.</li> </ul> <p>Then why am I so irked every time I see a Facebook ad that asks me to try Oprah&#39;s amazing diet, or meet handsome and professional men online? </p> <p>Because <strong>these are the only ads that Facebook showed me</strong>. Oh, there are variations on the theme:</p> <ul> <li>Over 30 and lonely?</li> <li>Get wooed by handsome men! (ad always features a picture of the exact type of man that I do NOT want to be wooed by)</li> <li>Dr. Oz&#39;s Diet!</li> <li>Muffin Top? Lose ten pounds in a week!</li> </ul> <p>If these ads were mixed in with a variety of other ads for things like I want to buy, I&#39;d probably have no problem with them. For instance, I&#39;m in the market for a flat-panel television, and I&#39;m not really sure how to shop around for one. I&#39;ve been thinking of treating myself to a day spa in the Seattle area, but would like some sort of package deal that makes it worth the time, and money. Oh, and I&#39;m always in the market for a pair of black, knee-high boots.</p> <p>If Facebook cared to dig any deeper in my profile, they would notice that I belong to a fair number of liberal groups on through their site, and might start pushing Obama stickers towards me in great fistfuls. Or maybe they would see how often I am listening to music on Pandora, and casually throw the occasional concert tickets ad my way. They might notice from my status update references and fan club membershipts that I have a very serious crush on Hiro Nakamura. Couldn&#39;t one of the dating ads at least point me towards a site filled with nerdy Japanese guys who can bend time and space? </p> <p>But no - it was all diet and douchey-looking dudes. </p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u11/elitesingles.jpg" alt="singles" title="singles" width="152" height="196" />     <img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u11/attorney.jpg" alt="attorney" title="attorney" width="154" height="202" /></p> <p>Why is this? I NEVER click on these ads. Do other women in my demographic click on these ads, thus giving Facebook the impression that I will as well? Are there simply no other ads that would apply to a 31 year-old single woman? </p> <p>A few months ago, Facebook started allowing users to <a href="http://blog.robwebb2k.com/2008/06/05/facebook-quietly-launches-advertising-feedback/">start voting</a> on the ads that they see. You can give a thumbs-up to an ad that you think is particularly interesting to you, and give a reason (good offer, relevant to me, etc.) or give a thumbs down and select a reason for that (irrelevant, uninteresting, pornographic). </p> <p>I didn&#39;t enter my demographic information into my Facebook profile with the idea that I would meet a life partner through it. I ignore friend invites from people that I don&#39;t know, and for me, Facebook was simply a good way to keep in touch with my family members (Facebook is huge in Saskatchewan, don&#39;t ask me why). Of course, I know that most social networking sites make their money from ads (as do bloggers, for that matter), but when I clicked &quot;Female&quot; and &quot;Single&quot;, it didn&#39;t occur to me that Facebook was going to assume that I was a lonely female version of Jabba the Hutt, longing to marry a single lawyer (see below) and produce little Jabbas.</p> <p>Despite the fact that I don&#39;t click these dating ads, and give them a thumbs down every single time I see them, Facebook continued to bombard me with them. As if that wasn&#39;t bad enough, Facebook ads apparently started to believe that the reason I wasn&#39;t clicking them was because I was getting jilted by my current lover.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u11/inlove.jpg" alt="in love" title="in love" width="145" height="190" />     <img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u11/nocall.jpg" alt="great date no call?" title="great date no call?" width="156" height="186" /></p> <p>I&#39;m well aware that the minute a woman on Facebook chances her &#39;status&#39; from &#39;single&#39; to &#39;engaged&#39;, she <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/02/AR2008090202956.html">begins seeing ads</a> for wedding photographers, wedding dresses, and of course, pre-wedding diets. And if she gets hitched and changes her status from &#39;engaged&#39; to &#39;married&#39;, it&#39;s All Baby, All The Damn Time ads.</p> <p>Now, as a woman with a set of ovaries, I&#39;m not going to lie and say that I have no interest in getting married or having kids. These things are important to lots of women. But they&#39;re not ALL that&#39;s important to single women the world over. There are other things that we spend money on, like athletic shoes. And <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/autos/content/sep2007/bw20070920_795863.htm">cars</a>. We tend to buy lots of books; according to a <a href="http://contentconnections.com/pressroom/press_release_5_30_2007.html">study in 2007</a>, the average American woman who belongs to a social network spends about $500 a year on books. </p> <p>Why have I never seen an advertisement for a book when I&#39;m logged into Facebook?</p> <p>Hey, I care about health and weight loss, and I write about these topics myself. But I just can&#39;t get into fad diets, or the latest &quot;miracle&quot; food that supposedly burns fat directly off of my thighs, or an acai berry cleanse. I can cleanse using kale, thank you very much. </p> <p>A while ago, after getting incredibly fed-up with the barrage of &quot;LET SEXY MALE LAWYERS WOO YOU!&quot; ads that Facebook continued to display, I started to wonder if all women were seeing similar advertisements. Because Facebook tracks your married status and announces it to all of your friends, I didn&#39;t want to announce that I was engaged or married, so I settled on becoming a Facebook lesbian. What&#39;s the first ad that I saw as soon as I came out?</p> <p><em>An ad for small business services.</em></p> <p>What, do lesbians own an inordinate number of businesses or something? Are they crazy about business cards and pamphlets? Why would a straight woman who owns her own business not see this ad? Seriously, if this is what it takes for Facebook to consider me a consumer with needs beyond finding a man and dieting like a supermodel, sign me up.</p> <p>Sure, there were some &quot;Find the woman of your dreams&quot;-type ads and the requisite Olivia Cruises ads, but they were mixed in with a good deal of ads for interesting stuff - political ads, for example. I don&#39;t know if this is normal, but I stopped seeing weight-loss ads altogether. Either Facebook&#39;s algorithm seemed to realize how annoyed I was with the ads, or lesbians are all much more fit than heterosexual women.</p> <p>I asked some of my friends to log into Facebook and take screenshots of the ads that they were shown on a regular basis. Men over 40 years of age seem to get lots of offers to earn money by filling out surveys. Also, ads for a &quot;rolling razor&quot;. My friend Mike, who is over 40 and single, seems to get a lot of book ads, which annoys me to know end. Sure, he&#39;s a voracious reader, but c&#39;mon. He also gets Obama button offers and information on local real estate firms. Why doesn&#39;t Facebook assume that he, too, is desperate to get married?</p> <p>My married girlfriend Shannon, who is my age, sees ads for albums by someone named Amy Mcdonald. She also gets ads from her alma mater.</p> <p>My coworker just got married last week, so Facebook ads now implore her to check her credit score so that she can buy a house. Also, they apparently want her to start reproducing (&quot;Enter to win free diapers!&quot;).</p> <p>A very smart gal I know who refused to enter any demographic information into her Facebook profile gets a whole range of ads - Facebook doesn&#39;t realize that she&#39;s a single woman and thus isn&#39;t able to insult her intelligence or consumer habits. Yet. </p> <p>After weeks and weeks of voting down every single dating or weight-loss and dating ad shown to me (I finally just decided to remove my marital status and sexual orientation from Facebook altogether - it&#39;s really none of their business), I&#39;m finally starting to see ads for Netflix, like the one below:</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u11/fatboy.jpg" alt="fatboy" title="fatboy" width="154" height="192" /></p> <p>Well, it&#39;s a start.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-does-facebook-ads-hate-single-heterosexual-women">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-killer-ways-to-really-actually-lose-weight">7 Killer Ways to Really, Actually Lose Weight</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/life-without-tv">Life Without Television</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-can-do-to-reduce-your-risk-of-diabetes">10 Things You Can Do to Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-habits-that-are-quietly-making-you-fat-and-have-nothing-to-do-with-eating">7 Habits That Are Quietly Making You Fat (and Have Nothing to Do With Eating)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-myspace-meets-your-local-producer-fresh-food-makes-a-tech-leap">When MySpace Meets your Local Producer: Fresh Food Makes a Tech Leap</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Technology advertisements consumerism diet facebook ads online dating online marketing single social networking weight loss Fri, 26 Sep 2008 18:37:48 +0000 Andrea Karim 2453 at http://www.wisebread.com Dumbest packaging ever? http://www.wisebread.com/unbearably-stupid-packaging <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/unbearably-stupid-packaging" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/stupid1.JPG" alt="" title="From the Department of Redundancy Department" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I understand the need for clean, sterile packaging of food. We live in an era (soon to be ending, mind you, if you believe the peak oil people) in which food travels great distances before it arrives in the massive grocery stores where we purchase it. It is true that frozen peas need to be placed in some kind of container for shipping, and a plastic bag or a thin carboard box are currently appropriate methods for keeping all those rolling green balls in a single package. </p> <p>However, we&#39;d be naive to think that our food is merely grown, harvested, processed and packaged. The agro-industrial complex is alive and functioning, and millions of dollars of research and thousands of man-hours go into determining the best packaging for, say, a can of beef stew.</p> <p>I understand the business need to keep consumers interested in buying your products, but there&#39;s a side to the food marketing that really bugs the heck out of me. And that&#39;s the way in which the same food is repackaged in a novel way, and pitched to the consumer in such a way that makes it seem like we just HAVE to have it, when in fact:</p> <ul> <li>only actual difference is the packaging</li> <li>the packaging causes the food item to cost more</li> <li>the packaging is unbearably superfluous</li> </ul> <p>Take Blueberry Blasters, which I saw recently at a local Safeway. One normal package of blueberries had been split up into four individual... well, servings, I guess. It&#39;s sort of hard to describe the containers used without giggling a bit. A plastic narrow cylinder about four inches tall is topped off by a big plastic blueberry that serves as the lid for the bottle. The cylinder has holes punched in it so that you can rinse the blueberries in the bottle without having to go to the trouble of removing them and washing them.</p> <p>The cost of four of these <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ljc_pics/2497092539/">oddly-phallic containers</a> of blueberries rang in at around $7. Seven dollars??! This is the same weight and class of blueberries that come in less sexy plastic boxes, which cost between $2-4 (in season).</p> <p>I can&#39;t, for the life of me, figure out why the current method used to prepare and eat blueberries is so arduous as to necessitate the repackaging of these fruits into lidded tubes for easier consumption. Which part is difficult? Is it removing the berries from the plastic box to wash them? Is it touching the berries directly with your fingers that turns people away from fruit? </p> <p>What marketing bozo was sitting around one day and suddenly said to himself, &quot;You know what&#39;s really hard to eat? Berries! If they only came in a sort of tube that I could use to pour them directly into my mouth....&quot;</p> <p>I was similarly irked by <a href="http://www.yoplait.com/products_gogurt.aspx">Gogurt</a> a few years ago. I can understand similar packaging for frozen, drippy treats, like popsicles, but since when did raising a spoon from yogurt container to mouth get to be so difficult that we need to suck yogurt from a flexible tube? How long before we end up like the humans in Wall-E, crusing around on hovering scooter, too fat to walk, simply slurping our meals through a plastic straw?</p> <p>And there&#39;s no actual <em>blasting</em> going on in Blueberry Blasters, unless I misunderstood the instructions for the containers. You&#39;re not (thankfully) able to use some sort of air gun to shoot blueberries across the room into someone&#39;s mouth. The blueberries themselves, while no doubt very tasty, don&#39;t explode in your mouth like Pop Rocks (again, thankfully). It&#39;s just a stupid alliteration that some poor copywriter was forced to come up with.</p> <p>Besides being shocking waste of marketing and sales time and materials (how much plastic do you NEED to sell someone a few ounces of blueberries?), Blueberry Blasters are just another product in a long line of products that serve to remind you just how little time you have left to do anything. Feeling the pressure to work extra hours or more than one job so that you can afford your mortgage or health care? Carting kids around to a variety of sports and hobbies? Overstretched with volunteer activities? <em>No time left to do things like allow produce to come into contact with your outer epidermal layer?</em> <strong>Don&#39;t worry!</strong> We&#39;ve created an even easier way to get your nutrients without performing tedious, time-consuming tasks like food-prep.</p> <p>I can just envision a commercial touting this product as an &quot;on-the-go&quot; kind of snack, but really, aren&#39;t blueberries ALREADY an on-the-go kind of snack? I mean, the darn things have a skin that keeps all the insides neatly contained, are easily washed, don&#39;t require peeling or slicing or de-seeding - they&#39;re just about the most easily-eaten item in nature.</p> <p>What&#39;s next? Pre-masticated bananas wrapped in plastic so we don&#39;t work our jaws too hard? IV drips for beer? Wait. Well, that one might actually be OK.</p> <p>Of course, the stupidity of re-packing blueberries to make it more fun and appealing is that it doesn&#39;t actually save you any time. Pre-sliced apples almost make some kind of sense, even if the time saving is less than a minute, but blueberries? You still have to wash the blueberries before eating them, and you will still have to use one or more appendages to lift the container to your mouth. The only advantage to eating Blueberry Blasters is that you get to tip the berries into your mouth from a blue-tipped phallic tube. The shape of the container makes me wonder if the design wasn&#39;t the result of some kind of wager (&quot;Dude, I&#39;ll bet you a six-pack of Alaskan Amber that you can&#39;t get a vaguely penile-like container through the design process without <em>someone</em> noticing&quot; &quot;Oh, yeah? You&#39;re on!&quot;). Oh, and you get to pay more for the honor.</p> <p>Listen, I&#39;m not terrible busy in life; I&#39;ve mostly limited my hobbies to drinking and napping. I don&#39;t have any children to care for, or a partner to worry about - so things are more or less easy for me. But even with all that ease, sometimes I feel too tired after a long day of work to make dinner from scratch, and prepared foods are a life-saver. But there&#39;s a point where I draw the line, and Blueberry Blasters stepped WAY over that line.</p> <p>I keep Googling &quot;Blueberry Blasters&quot; to see if it&#39;s some kind of hoax created to get bloggers with too much time on their hands riled up over stupid packaging, but alas, I have found nothing. Has anyone else seen these little gems while shopping?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/unbearably-stupid-packaging">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/packing-it-in-the-independent-of-london-issues-a-challenge">Packing it in - The Independent of London issues a challenge</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-dumbest-big-purchases-people-make">The 7 Dumbest Big Purchases People Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-supermarket-insider-reveals-5-ways-your-grocer-is-trying-to-upsell-you">A Supermarket Insider Reveals 5 Ways Your Grocer Is Trying to Upsell You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/oprah-asks-a-great-question-what-can-you-live-without">Oprah Asks A Great Question; What Can You Live Without?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/look-but-dont-touch-avoiding-market-manipulation">Look, But Don’t Touch: Avoid Marketing Manipulation</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Green Living Lifestyle Shopping consumerism Food fruit groceries healthy food marketing packaging produce shopping Wed, 27 Aug 2008 21:17:58 +0000 Andrea Karim 2273 at http://www.wisebread.com Does living frugally hurt the economy? http://www.wisebread.com/does-living-frugally-hurt-the-economy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/does-living-frugally-hurt-the-economy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-and-child-shopping.jpg" alt="Woman and child shopping" title="Woman and child shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="366" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When I advocate for frugal living, people sometimes ask, &quot;What if everybody lived like that?  Wouldn&#39;t it hurt the economy?&quot;  My natural inclination toward frugal living may color my opinion, but I don&#39;t think so.  I think mass frugality would be good for the economy.</p> <p>It&#39;s a valid concern, rooted in the way recessions and depressions start.  Some recessions are business-led, with businesses cutting back first and consumers following because their paychecks are smaller and they can see that their jobs are at risk.  Others are consumer-led, with consumers cutting back first and businesses responding to falling sales with layoffs.  Either one, of course, leads directly to the other, and there&#39;s no automatic mechanism to stop the downward cycle.</p> <p>So, the question is:  If everyone suddenly decided to be more frugal, would that look like a consumer-led recession, with  falling sales leading to layoffs, and layoffs leading to cash-strapped consumers choosing to be even more frugal?</p> <p>It&#39;s a question that&#39;s hard to answer.  If everyone were a bit more frugal, yes there probably would be a bit less total economic activity.  (Xin Lu lays out this case in her post from a few months ago, <a href="/what-if-everyone-suddenly-became-frugal">What if everyone suddenly became frugal</a>.)  I think, though, that the exact result depends a great deal on the economic situation at the moment the change takes place.  It&#39;s kind of like hesitating before giving someone an aspirin:  Won&#39;t it cause his temperature to fall?  Well, if he&#39;s got a fever, yes it probably will.  Otherwise, probably not.  In much the same way, if the economy is overheated, then a shift to frugality will probably slow it down.  If the economy is underperforming, I don&#39;t think a shift toward frugality will make a big difference--if everyone is already reduced to focusing on just the necessities, becoming more frugal isn&#39;t much of a change. </p> <p>So, the downsides may be real, but I think they&#39;re small.  On the other hand, if everyone is more frugal, the upsides are potentially huge.  A lot of the harm in a recession comes from fear.  The people who are unemployed have less money to spend, but even people with jobs start to cut back, simply because they&#39;re nervous.  Frugal people are less vulnerable to this.  They have less debt, more savings, and more room in the budget to handle a drop in income.  They don&#39;t panic when their neighbor loses his job--because they don&#39;t need to.  The result is that the frugal household is more stable.  And a community of stable households is a more stable community. </p> <p>Any change in consumer&#39;s tastes--deciding that they want less of anything, whether it&#39;s VHS tapes, camera film, or incandescent light bulbs--is hard on the businesses that produce those things.  But it doesn&#39;t kick off a downward spiral, because there&#39;s a natural point of stability:  the point where the consumers are buying whatever it is they now want.  The shift to more frugal consumption patterns would be like a change in tastes, not like the beginning of a recession.</p> <p>So, I feel comfortable advocating frugality.  We may lose a bit of economic activity--but what we lose is worth losing.  What we gain is more secure households and a more sustainable economy.  It seems like a win to me.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/does-living-frugally-hurt-the-economy">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/living-within-your-means-isnt-nasty">Living within your means isn&#039;t nasty</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-new-normal-economy">The new normal economy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chinese-money-habits-how-my-culture-influences-my-attitudes-toward-money">Chinese Money Habits - How My Culture Influences My Attitudes Toward Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-i-still-dont-have-a-cellphone-plan-yet">6 Reasons I Still Don&#039;t Have a Cell Phone Plan (yet)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-line-between-frugal-and-crazy">The line between frugal and crazy</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living consumerism consumers depression frugality recession Sat, 10 May 2008 19:43:33 +0000 Philip Brewer 2079 at http://www.wisebread.com Black Friday...black in more ways than one http://www.wisebread.com/black-friday-black-in-more-ways-than-one-0 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/black-friday-black-in-more-ways-than-one-0" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/857597_girl_on_stairs_0.jpg" alt="sad" title="sad" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Today, November 23rd, is Black Friday. A day that as a Wisebread writer and bargain hunter I love. There are deals everywhere, we all get a chance to save a bit of dough before the Holidays, we all smile a bit more. At least, that&#39;s what I thought. But as I trudged around today in the sales, with lines of people looking more stressed than a factory farmed chicken, I realized that this day has increasingly become more of a black day on the calendar.</p> <p>Black Friday got it&#39;s name from a financial term. It was a day many retailers went from being &quot;in the red&quot; to going back &quot;in the black.&quot; Great, money-savings opportunities popped up everywhere and over the years it has become a momentous day for shopping. When I first arrived in the US I was staggered by the kind of deals you could get on Black Friday. It was a consumer&#39;s dream. But that dream has slowly become a nightmare, as I witnessed today.</p> <p>It&#39;s difficult to know what to make of us as a race when you see fellow human beings trampling all over each other in a mall to get their hands on a half-price sweater or portable DVD player. With the deals being advertised earlier and earlier before the big day, the hype is magnified. And this year, the hype was bigger than ever. Black Friday ads were leaked up to a month before today, and the general public has been drooling like Pavlov&#39;s dog for a great bargain.</p> <p>I, for one, was one of those drooling dogs last year. And the year before. I got up at 6am with my wife and sweet baby girl and dragged them all over Colorado to save $20 on a pack of re-writable DVDs and $30 on a DVD player. Nice saving, but a what cost to me and my family time? I&#39;ve noticed this trend in other people, the mania growing like a virus. But today I did a quick search to see if there were any security camera images of the hysteria. Here&#39;s one of the more impactful... </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,29,0" width="425" height="355"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/vVvEChXulSs&amp;rel=1" /><param name="quality" value="high" /><param name="menu" value="false" /><param name="wmode" value="" /><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/vVvEChXulSs&amp;rel=1" wmode="" quality="high" menu="false" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="355"></embed></object></p> <p>Saving a buck is great. But when you step back and look at the bigger picture, is it worth it, really? With the Internet most people can find very good deals, ones that rival or beat Black Friday deals, without having to step outside in the rowdy rabble. No need to punch and kick. No need to step on a fellow human to get that cashmere sweater for $80. I speak as someone who had what has only been described as a &quot;moment of clarity&quot; today. I&#39;m not saying don&#39;t enjoy the sales. I still love a deal, always will. But Black Friday, something I applauded as early as this morning in our Wisebread writers forum, has began to turn my stomach to reveal the true nature of us all, if we let money rule our heads instead of compassion and patience.</p> <p>I love a great deal. I&#39;ll never let one go. But I won&#39;t screw someone over just to save a few bucks on the latest &quot;must-have&quot; toy or gadget that eventually (sooner rather than later) becomes some $5 item in a garage sale.</p> <p>It&#39;s the day after Thanksgiving. A time we should still give thanks for what we have. Maybe we should remember that and spend a little more time with the ones we love, and a little less time with the retailers looking for a big, fat bottom line. </p> <p>Have a wonderful holiday folks. </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/black-friday-black-in-more-ways-than-one-0">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-26000-in-5-years-or-less">How to Save $26,000 in 5 Years or Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-a-dental-discount-plan-save-you-money">Will A Dental Discount Plan Save You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/unbearably-stupid-packaging">Dumbest packaging ever?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-greed-backfires-an-iphone-story-1">When greed backfires - an iPhone story.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/conspicuous-spending-fading-to-black">Conspicuous Spending: Fading to Black</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs bargains consumerism fear gluttony greed inhumanity insanity savings Sat, 24 Nov 2007 05:00:53 +0000 Paul Michael 1421 at http://www.wisebread.com Jettison the Junk: Why Clutter Clouds Your Mind and Saps Your Energy http://www.wisebread.com/jettison-the-junk-why-clutter-clouds-your-mind-and-saps-your-energy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jettison-the-junk-why-clutter-clouds-your-mind-and-saps-your-energy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/tired-4303504-small.jpg" alt="tired" title="tired" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's a man who lives down the street from me who's a big fan of dumpster diving. And by &quot;fan&quot;, I mean, that's all he does. His backyard is a sea of garbage. He has 30 broken refrigerators on his giant back porch. His truck, which is parked in front of my house, is overflowing with discarded junk like broken baby strollers, cardboard boxes, paving stones, and dried out cans of paint. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/clutter-free-the-zero-accumulation-household">Clutter-Free: The Zero-Accumulation Household</a>)</p> <p>To my knowledge, Dumpster Dan is not employed, and probably not eating well. He's impoverished. Yet he has all this crap lying around. Which is partly why I was so delighted to read the first sentence of Paul Graham's July 2007 <a href="http://www.paulgraham.com/stuff.html">essay about stuff</a>:</p> <blockquote><p><em>I have too much stuff. Most people in America do. In fact, the poorer people are, the more stuff they seem to have. Hardly anyone is so poor that they can't afford a front yard full of old cars.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Oooh! Snap!</p> <p>And also an interesting point &mdash; in the same way that the poorest Americans are also the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-is-it-so-expensive-to-be-healthy">fattest Americans</a>, the poorest Americans still accumulate a whole lot of junk. As Graham says, &quot;<em>Stuff has gotten a lot cheaper, but our attitudes toward it haven't changed correspondingly. We overvalue stuff.&quot;</em></p> <h2>When Less Is More</h2> <p>I've only recently become enamored over <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/voluntary-simplicity-as-hedonism">the joys of having less</a>. Buying less, owning less, and wanting less. I'm not a zen master of simple living, not by a long shot. And I came by the joy almost on accident.</p> <p>A friend of mine was planning a visit to my house and was bringing her one-year-old daughter along. In a slight panic, I ran around my home, attempting to 'baby-proof' the entire thing. Papers were shredded, junk discarded, floors mopped and swept, heavy vases hidden away in tall, locked cabinets.</p> <p>After looking around, I suddenly realized how WONDERFUL my house looked. It was downright beautiful. Looking around a spic-and-span room relaxed me. Coming home, opening the door and being greeted by the sight of an organized kitchen made me feel truly <em>at home</em>.</p> <p>That's why I'm loving Paul Graham's essay about <a href="http://www.paulgraham.com/stuff.html">having too much stuff</a> (via <a href="http://unclutterer.com/archives/2007/08/against_stuff.php">Unclutterer</a>). In between Fight Club-esque moments of &quot;your stuff owns you&quot;, he says:</p> <blockquote><p><em>And unless you're extremely organized, a house full of stuff can be very depressing. A cluttered room saps one's spirits. One reason, obviously, is that there's less room for people in a room full of stuff. But there's more going on than that. I think humans constantly scan their environment to build a mental model of what's around them. And the harder a scene is to parse, the less energy you have left for conscious thoughts. A cluttered room is literally exhausting.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>So, so true. Frustrations are multiplied when you don't have a clean, empty space to rest your eyes upon. Not only are piles of junk mentally jarring, but they remind you of how much work you still have left to do &mdash; sorting, organizing, and storing the stuff.</p> <p>A sink full of dirty dishes from three days ago isn't just unpleasant to look at &mdash; it reminds you that you have to do the dishes. And that you haven't had time to do the dishes for three days. THAT'S exhausting.</p> <h2>&quot;Bargain&quot; is Not French for &quot;Free&quot;</h2> <p>I'm delighted that Graham touches on one of the insane aspects of our culture, which is accumulating more stuff when we don't need it just because it's free, and having more stuff makes us feel richer:</p> <blockquote><p><em>That was a big problem for me when I had no money. I felt poor, and stuff seemed valuable, so almost instinctively I accumulated it. Friends would leave something behind when they moved, or I'd see something as I was walking down the street on trash night (beware of anything you find yourself describing as &quot;perfectly good&quot;), or I'd find something in almost new condition for a tenth its retail price at a garage sale. And pow, more stuff. In fact these free or nearly free things weren't bargains, because they were worth even less than they cost. Most of the stuff I accumulated was worthless, because I didn't need it.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>I'm frequently tempted to buy things that can be resold with a little fixing. You know, lovely old dressers that need a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-not-be-frugal">new coat of paint</a>. Clothing that can be made &quot;hip&quot; again with a few tucks here and there. But the truth is, I don't have the time or the space to handle projects like these. If I had my own workshop and a flexible job, I'd jump at the chance to restore antiques or resell clothing.</p> <p>But I have to accept the fact that my time and my living space are very limited. Remember, free or almost free stuff is only a great deal if you (a) use it, or (b) have the time, space, and energy to restore it and sell it for profit.</p> <h2>How to Stop? Don't Start</h2> <p>Simply getting rid of stuff isn't going to keep your life junk-free. Part of the trick in eliminating junk in your life is to refrain from accumulating <em>more</em> stuff you don't need and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/snl-financial-advice-dont-buy-stuff-you-cannot-afford">can't afford</a>.&nbsp;As Graham writes,</p> <blockquote><p><em>The really painful thing to recall is not just that I accumulated all this useless stuff, but that I often spent money I desperately needed on stuff that I didn't. Why would I do that? Because the people whose job is to sell you stuff are really, really good at it. The average 25-year-old is no match for companies that have spent years figuring out how to get you to spend money on stuff. They make the experience of buying stuff so pleasant that &quot;shopping&quot; becomes a leisure activity.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Anyone who has ever spent $67 on a bottle of shampoo and some organic fruit at Whole Foods understands this sentiment. Shopping is a way to spend a Sunday afternoon, right? It's so pleasant, so breezy, so self-affirming.</p> <p>Shopping centers know this. All of the malls in my area are undergoing major renovations, making them more attractive places to hang out in. The University Village, which is near the University of Washington but packed with stores that students are too poor to shop in, has been wildly successful in turning an ugly, rundown strip mall into a lovely and appealing shopping destination. Replete with playgrounds, fountains, lovely landscaping, outdoor seating &mdash; you could spend an entire day in the Village and not be lacking in any services or products.</p> <p>That's a dangerous situation for me. The longer I linger, the more I want to spend. So I've learned to avoid langurous afternoons in the Village.</p> <h2>Self-Interrogation</h2> <p>In his essay, Graham discusses some of the tactics that he uses to keep himself from buying stuff that he doesn't need:</p> <blockquote><p><em>[A]sk yourself, before buying something, &quot;is this going to make my life noticeably better? [W]ill this be something I use constantly? Or is it just something nice? Or worse still, a mere bargain?</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Here's what I ask myself before buying something that I don't really NEED:</p> <ol> <li>Is this going to help me achieve any of my goals? (Running shoes, yes; lip plumper, no.)</li> <li>Which of my friends will be impressed by, or envious of, this item? If all of those friends would be disinterested in this item, would I still want it?</li> </ol> <p>Those questions help me mentally suss out the motivations behind my desire for an object. Peer pressure can be a powerful thing, and I try to use it for the forces of good rather than evil. If I imagine that all of my friends disapprove of a shiny new iPhone, I can offer myself a more unbiased opinion about my own feelings regarding my desire for one. If I bought this, and everyone hated it, would I still think it was a great purchase?</p> <p>That's how I avoided purchasing: a fast motorcycle, lip injections, and a tattoo on my forearm.</p> <p>As I slowly work towards a less cluttered life, I'm constantly realizing how empowering it is to have less. Of course, this is the opposite of what we are told by advertisers; we are led to believe that only owning things will give us a feeling of power. It's almost jolting to discover what a lie that is, even if I've proclaimed all my life that I understood the falsehoods behind the marketing.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jettison-the-junk-why-clutter-clouds-your-mind-and-saps-your-energy">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-seven-deadly-sins-of-consumerism-and-the-frugal-redemption">The seven deadly sins of consumerism (and the frugal redemption).</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/unbearably-stupid-packaging">Dumbest packaging ever?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/knowing-your-triggers-can-prevent-stupid-spending">Knowing Your Triggers Can Prevent Emotional Spending</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-i-conquer-my-vanity-for-the-sake-of-my-sanity">Can I Conquer My Vanity for the Sake of My Sanity?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-have-what-you-want-and-do-you-want-what-you-have">Do you have what you want… and do you want what you have?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Lifestyle America clutter compulsive consumerism debt junk overspending shopping Tue, 07 Aug 2007 23:54:15 +0000 Andrea Karim 964 at http://www.wisebread.com Packing it in - The Independent of London issues a challenge http://www.wisebread.com/packing-it-in-the-independent-of-london-issues-a-challenge <p>The Independent, one of my favorite news sources, has issued a challenge to (presumably European) consumers <a href="http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article2175016.ece" target="_blank">to reduce the amount of packaging that is used in everyday products</a>. Apparently, an unneccessarily wrapped-n-packaged &quot;swede&quot; (turnip) set one of the Independent&#39;s writer&#39;s environmentally-conscious heart on fire at the supermarket, and so the newspaper is proposing that consumers...what, exactly?</p> <p>Well, not much, to be honest. You&#39;re supposed to write in with information about superfluous packaging, and The Independent will take the store to task, somehow. </p> <p>I&#39;m all about reducing the amount of packaging that we see on our store shelves. I purposely avoid buying fruits or veggies at Trader Joe&#39;s specifically because the apples are wrapped in cling-wrap on a sytofoam tray, which is not only stupid, but forces me into buying a &quot;set&quot; of apples when I should be allowed to freely pick and choose. I mean, it&#39;s fine for things like berries (you really don&#39;t want customers picking through the blackberries to find a handful of their favorites), but apples? Apples are hardy. As long as I&#39;m not bouncing them on the floor to see how fresh they are, I feel like they can pretty much handle being handled.</p> <p>Another pet peeve of mine is the packaging at Costco. Now, I know that Costco is trying to prevent stealing when they package small bottles of perfume in gigantic, injurous plastic blister packs. But considering that they force you to stop at the door <a href="http://www.danielcurran.com/2004/08/no-you-cannot-check-my-receipt-and.php" target="_blank">while they look over your receipt</a>, and that there is always a scary woman hovering over the cosmetics section, trying to force you to try out Kirkland brand blush, you would think that that level of packaging would be unneccessary.</p> <p>I&#39;m not entirely sure that The Independent has the right idea, but I suppose that we&#39;ll eventually see if their public shaming of large supermarkets will make one iota of difference in the kinds of packaging seen on foodstuffs.</p> <p>The article reminded me that I hadn&#39;t yet posted about <a href="http://sfcompact.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">The Compact</a>, a group of people who have <a href="http://blog.trendregistry.com/2007/01/06/the-compact-the-antithesis-of-american-consumerism/" target="_blank">given up purchasing anything new</a> for a year (save food, medicine, and underwear). I had <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/02/13/BAGH3H7DH71.DTL" target="_blank">heard of them before</a>, but just got a little refresher from my local NPR station this morning on the way to work. Apparently they get a lot of flack for being &quot;unAmerican&quot; from right-wingers (although I didn&#39;t come across any Googled evidence of this, and I can&#39;t think of a more conservative ideology than saving money). Anyway, <a href="http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thecompact/" target="_blank">Compacters</a> are allowed to buy things, but they have to be used. So needless to say, craigslist is probably bookmarked in many a Compacter&#39;s web browser, along with <a href="http://www.freecycle.org/" target="_blank">Freecycle</a>, which I hadn&#39;t heard of until today. </p> <p>It&#39;s interesting, and bothersome, to think that &quot;buying too much&quot; and &quot;American&quot; are concepts that seem to go hand in hand. I&#39;ve often discussed with friends the possibility that America&#39;s economy is going to have to change very drastically in the future, since maintaining this level of growth is causing all kinds of problems, from trade deficits to personal financial crises.</p> <p>I&#39;m pondering a Compact Conversion, but am not sure that I&#39;m ready to take the leap, partly because I&#39;m perfectly capable of blowing all of my money in antique stores and on eBay with &quot;gently used&quot; items. But the idea of NOT BEING ALLOWED to go to Target - well, it&#39;s simultaneously refreshing and kind of scary.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/packing-it-in-the-independent-of-london-issues-a-challenge">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/unbearably-stupid-packaging">Dumbest packaging ever?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/new-isnt-always-better-12-used-things-to-love">New Isn&#039;t Always Better: 12 Used Things to Love</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-cut-down-on-garbage-and-save-money-too">12 Ways to Cut Down on Garbage and Save Money Too!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stampede-death-walmart-black-friday">How many human lives is a flat panel TV worth?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-paths-to-a-greener-back-to-school-season">6 Paths to a Greener Back-to-School Season</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Shopping consumerism packaging recycling shopping Mon, 22 Jan 2007 22:32:42 +0000 Andrea Karim 210 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 people you never heard of who rocked your world http://www.wisebread.com/5-people-you-never-heard-of-who-rocked-your-world <p><a href="http://www.oneclub.org/oc/thealchemists/" target="_blank"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/alchemists3.jpg" alt="the alchemists" title="the alchemists" width="322" height="188" /></a> </p> <p><a href="http://www.oneclub.org/oc/thealchemists/" target="_blank">The Alchemists</a> is a film about five people who transformed our culture by convincing us to adopt corporate slogans as a way of life. Consider: </p> <ul> <li>Dan Wieden who, inspired by the last words of executed murderer Gary Gilmore, came up with the little phrase &quot;Just Do It&quot; and revolutionized advertising forever;</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Lee Clow, who created the most-famous commercial in history by introducing Macintosh computers in &quot;1984&quot;;</li> </ul> <ul> <li>George Lois who single-handedly saved MTV from extinction with his trademark in-your-face celebrity campaign, &quot;I WANT MY MTV!&quot;</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Phyllis K. Robinson who helped define the entire &quot;me generation&quot; with her liberating spin on selling Clairol (&quot;It let&#39;s me be me.&quot;);</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Hal Riney who got President Reagan re-elected.</li> </ul> <p>According to the film&#39;s sponsors, this film is &quot;not an analysis of the perils of consumerism and thought-control&quot; but rather a documentary about &quot;creative rebellion, and how all-powerful art springs forth from deeply personal, psychological sources and the need for change.&quot;</p> <p>That sounds grand. But I&#39;ll be viewing this film from a very different perspective. I want to see the creative process behind the Nike and MTV zeitgeist that spawned the me-first generation obsessed with instant gratification and nihilistic consumerism. Dan Wieden made me do it, and I want to see how. </p> <p><center> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/alchemists1.jpg" alt="alchemists" title="alchemists" width="320" height="193" /> </p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/alchemists2.jpg" alt="the alchemists" title="the alchemists" width="320" height="188" /></p> <p></center></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-chen">Will Chen</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-people-you-never-heard-of-who-rocked-your-world">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jar-of-nothing-the-perfect-present-for-the-picky-prick-in-your-life">Jar of Nothing: the perfect present for the picky prick in your life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fbi-considered-its-a-wonderful-life-communist-propaganda">FBI Considered &quot;It&#039;s A Wonderful Life&quot; Communist Propaganda</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-self-storage-units-are-more-sad-museums-than-savvy-solutions">5 Ways Self Storage Units Are More Sad Museums Than Savvy Solutions</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/weird-things-you-didnt-know-about-valentines-day">Weird Things You Didn&#039;t Know About Valentine&#039;s Day</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/unbearably-stupid-packaging">Dumbest packaging ever?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Extra Commentary advertising alchemists consumerism Tue, 02 Jan 2007 00:41:09 +0000 Will Chen 139 at http://www.wisebread.com