Posts Tagged ‘money’

Diamonds: you’ve been had, suckers

March 14th, 2012 1 comment

RingsAh, diamonds. The ultimate symbol of an eternal commitment between two people in love, right? In fact, here in America, this sentiment is so strong that a diamond ring is viewed as an absolutely essential component of a marriage engagement proposal by virtually everyone. And of course, the more expensive the diamond, the more impressive the display of love—there are even helpful guidelines in place to let men know the minimum acceptable amount to spend when shopping for an engagement ring (two months’ salary, guys).

But did you ever stop to think about how diamonds got elevated to this lofty status? Or why nearly every American couple chooses to express their commitment in exactly the same way (by spending several thousand dollars on a rock, of all things)?

The answer is that most Americans behave this way because they were told to. The genius marketing minds at N.W. Ayers & Son created the diamond market essentially out of thin air way back in the 1930s with an advertising campaign that taught us that diamonds = love, and Americans have been paying exorbitant prices for essentially worthless rocks ever since.

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Average American loves new cars, hates common sense

December 28th, 2011 1 comment

Americans love their cars. Buying a new car is an exiting event for most of us, and is often accompanied by copious amounts of internet research, multiple visits to dealer showrooms, and careful budget considerations to determine what we can comfortably afford. Oh wait — scratch that last one.

It turns out that most Americans are actually completely incapable of making sane decisions when it comes to money. The car-buying mentality in America appears to be a two-step process when it comes to finances: first, figure out the absolute maximum that you can afford to spend every month on a car payment. Then, find the best car that you can possibly buy, using that entire monthly budget. This is why car salespeople can commonly get away with simplifying a new car transaction down into the all-mighty monthly payment figure, glossing over minor details such as purchase price, fees, and loan terms. After all, those figures aren’t important if you can swing the monthly payment, right?

But what if new vehicle discussions didn’t revolve around whether or not your monthly budget could accommodate a $289 car payment? What if car salespeople put purchase prices into real-world terms that even the most math-challenged person could understand? What if a car salesperson asked you if you would be willing to hand over every single penny you earned for the next 14 months, in exchange for that car you’re eyeing? Because that is exactly what the typical American is doing.

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Categories: Financial Idiocy Tags: ,

Layaway: enabling people of questionable intelligence to pay more for stuff they can’t afford to begin with

December 18th, 2011 Comments off

Layaway. Once a popular method of making purchases in the dark days before credit cards and the internet, this relic from the past has been making a return in recent years. While several large retailers have always quietly maintained a layaway purchase option, a handful have started to actively promote it (most notably Kmart and Sears). The clearest sign of a comeback is Walmart’s resurrection of its layaway program, just in time for the 2011 holiday season — and much to the delight of the masses clamoring for the return of a Walmart layaway option since 2006 (as evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of signatures across several online petitions!). Layaway is, of course, idiotic.

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Categories: Financial Idiocy Tags: , ,