not, spend not or spend a lot |
Of course, maybe our "needs" haven't changed.
Maybe manufacturers and their advertising agencies have convinced
us -- quite successfully -- that we need these products. Besides
convincing us that we can't possibly be hip, cool, powerful or happy
without these products, there is a peculiar sort of built-in obsolescence.
"It's a neat concept,"
Dighe says of built-in obsolescence, "but I doubt there's very
much of it in American manufacturing, and here's why. So much of
our manufactured goods come from China and Taiwan and other places
in the world. Unless producers all around the world believe in planned
obsolescence, it just isn't going to pay for American producers
to make products that just break down and have to be replaced, because
consumers will just stop buying them and start buying more-reliable
things produced elsewhere.
"I think you probably do have considerable obsolescence,
not in a literal sense, but in a marketing sense, with people replacing
old but serviceable products with new and trendy substitutes."
attitudes and how they affect you
Ultimately, our attitudes about money affect the quality of our
lives. How we spend, whether we perceive buying things as gauges
of our self-worth and whether we're going to save enough money to
retire may depend largely on how we were raised and how we react
to how we were raised.
"Some things I think are generational,"
says Carl Brookins, 73, of Minneapolis. "I think a lot of it
has to do with attitudes and how you grew up and what your parents
are like and the people around you. There are a whole lot of influences.
In general I think our society has become much more of a throwaway
culture, and we tend to replace rather than repair. Of course, it's
so expensive to repair a lot of things now that it makes more sense
to go and buy a new one."
Francis says, "I see the problem with spending
among all different ages, and that's definitely a bridge that bridges
all different generations. A lot of it doesn't have to do with what
generation you're from, it's more about how they were raised and
what they were taught about money. Did their parents spend frivolously?
Was there a competition with the Joneses next door? How were they
taught about money? And how they formed their attitudes and beliefs
and values about money is what stays with them the rest of their
lives. It's much more about that than it is necessarily about age."
When working with clients
to get their finances under control, Francis says she attempts to help them determine
what's important to them.
"If it's security, we take that one step
further and ask what will help them feel secure. Maybe it's purchasing
a home. It may be having a certain dollar amount in their emergency
fund. It may be putting a certain amount away for retirement. And
we make sure we do that first, and then whatever's left over, you
can have a ball with. Then there's less of this constant tug of
war between their spending and their values."