In his article titled Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed, David, from the blog Raptitude, makes some points that are hard to argue with. He suggests that the 8-hour workday, paired with the 40 hour work week, makes for an incredibly purchase-happy public. Now, why would a standard work week, that’s pretty intense as it takes up most of our lives, make us purchase happy? Just think about it for a minute.
David writes “We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have.”
I never really thought about this concept until I read that article. Once your perspective changes to where you watch out for signs of businesses doing these things, you’ll never be the same. I work for a marketing company. My perspective of marketing has changed. I still believe marketing is valuable, even to consumers, but I now believe that there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed.
We Need to Beware of Marketing
Ultimately, buying things is completely up to us, the consumers. Businesses are going to market to us, and they’ll do it incredibly well. It’s our job to get away from the advertising when necessary. Personally, I see or hear very little advertising as I don’t watch TV (except for a Netflix show here and there), I listen to very little radio and I don’t take in any print advertising since I throw away my junk mail immediately after getting it and I don’t read newspapers or magazines. The only advertising that is able to get in front of me is internet advertising, since I’m on the internet for a big part of my day.
As businesses are pouring a good chunk of their revenues into advertising, consumers are buying all kinds of stuff they don’t need. It’s obvious that it’s happening since most people are broke and in debt. Most people are spending almost as much, as much or more than they earn. Now, why the heck would they be doing that instead of saving 50+% of their income like my pal Jason and I do? It’s not hard to see why. Because they’re unhappy and unhealthy and they believe it will help them feel better.
The problem with the 8 hour work day and the 40 hour work week is that it leaves us with very little time outside of work. We come home tired and we don’t want to cook a home-made meal, so we grab take-out or order a pizza. Doing so makes us more unhealthy and more dependent on our job (since we’re spending more money). For many of us, our lack of time contributes to our lack of money. It’s an endless negative cycle, in which according to David, businesses and our economy just love.
We Could Travel on Much Less if We Had More Time
I often daydream about travel and look for deals in the process. Sometimes, I look at an RV rental site (because an RV trip would be killer) called Cruise America in their deals section. Right now, they have a deal for a one-way RV rental from Chicago to Orlando for 95% off. I called them for a price quote and the discounted price is just $77.48. That would include about 7 nights or so. Then, over at Hertz car rental, in their deals section, there is a deal for a one-way drive out of Florida for $9.95/day. I called and got a quote on that for bringing a car from Orlando back up to Minneapolis, which is $62.42. When factoring in gas at about $760 all together (RV and car), it adds some cost to this trip. But this would be a VERY fun time, in which you could bring 4 or so people on a trip from Minneapolis to Florida via a bus ride from Minneapolis to Chicago first, then a road trip in a deluxe RV, camping all along the way from Chicago to Orlando, and returning via driving a nice newish rental car.
Extending the trip wouldn’t add much cost either. At a 95% discount, adding days to the RV trip won’t cost much. At $9.95 per day, the car rental price won’t increase much either (since you’re already paying all the taxes and fees). This could be a 3 week trip, for 4 people, for just $900 or so total. That’s $225 per person for a 3 week trip of AWESOMENESS.
The reason my friends/family and I won’t be taking this trip is because we don’t have the time (and in some cases, the money). Heck, even though I could probably pull this off once or so, I too couldn’t do this without it causing pretty big problems with my job. I don’t have the time to do it either. So, what would be a very cheap and fun trip, won’t be happening, not because of money (at least in my case), but because of time.
This lack of time costs us (those of us who lack it) more money. Since my friends/family and I won’t be taking this $225 per person, up to 3 week long trip, we’ll instead choose to take a much more expensive trip (if we travel at all), that fits into our ridiculously small window of free time. Our convenience vacation will end up costing us over $1,000 for just a few days and we’ll arrive home more exhausted than when we left because of all that we’ll be cramming into our narrow window of time.
What Comes First, Time or Money?
Lacking time contributes to lacking money. It’s not unlike the chicken or the egg dilemma, because what comes first, time (freedom from having to work 40 hours/week) or money (having enough money to support you indefinitely)? If money comes first, but without time we spend more, it’s pretty hard to escape the rat race.
If we are to get out of this rat race, we need to be conscious of how our lack of time encourages us to spend more money. We have to make pretty big changes in our lives in order to break free from this cycle that most people are caught in. Then, once we have our time back, our money situation will improve naturally, even though it won’t be necessary.