As I write this, I'm logged into my work computer running some customized queries to discern whether you, the customer, (and no we don't call you customers) have purchased enough.
Enough what? Well, enough advertised product. Product that my company advertises. Product that I knowingly price to optimize profits using a combination of past information (your past information), competitive information, and math.
To make matters worse, my company isn't some cute boutique, or even a chain that's trying to stick it to the man. No, I'm a marketer for a mass merchandiser.
Any rant about marketing is in fact the world's most hypocritical rant, and today, you are in for a treat!
Please stop asking me if I want a HELOC
When you remodel your home, you start to do crazy shit like spending $5.2K in a single day, and you even get excited about it. However, to achieve such astronomical spending you have to either use cash (at IKEA? No.) or you have to have a card of some sort that will allow you to purchase that amount in a single transaction.
I've also heard of these relics called checks, but I haven't used seen one since 2002.
As it turns out, we had no way to access the requisite amount from our account. To clarify, we had the cash, but neither my debit nor my credit card had a high enough single transaction limit. Which is why I called my trusty bank, on a Saturday, to raise my single transaction limit to $6K. Anytime I request that my limit be raised, I feel the need to justify my actions to the teller, so I explained that we were renovating our home.
Apparently big bank customer service reps must launch into the various merits of a HELOC anytime the word renovation is mentioned, and masochist that I am, I didn't cut off the rep as she waxed poetic about initiation fees, service fees, and how long I could keep it open with a zero balance.
As my toddler screeched about various plane sounds (Prop plane goes, Huk, huk, huk whirrr! Whirr!), I listened for a chance to ask if my debit limit was raised. Finally, I got a word in.
"Did you raise my limit?"
"Yes ma'am, we did."
"Okay, thanks, gotta go bye."
I hung up the phone and asked my husband how he felt about a HELOC even though he has an even stronger anti-debt stance than I have.
I hate marketers because I'm susceptible to marketing
I discussed the various merits of the HELOC, the low initation fee, the fact that we could use it with a low interest rate in the event of an emergency.
My husband, to his credit, went all Dave Ramsey on me. "Why would we use debt in the event of an emergency? That's why we have money, and investments, and assets to sell? What kind of emergency could we have that costs more than the amount we have."
He was right, and I felt dumb. Why would I ever ask my husband if he wanted a HELOC? Why would I want a HELOC myself?
Because I am a sucker.
Marketers say that a sucker is born every minute, and I'm always the sucker (except when I am the marketer). When I'm in a bar, my friends can always guess which beer I will buy because it will be the most prominently advertised beer. I see #AllDayBreakfast, and I immediately plan a 10:35 McMuffin run.
I want to ask marketers to stop marketing and sales people to stop selling, but I don't think we're going anywhere. There are just too many suckers with too much money. I want to develop some steely tolerance to advertising, but I can't do that either. If knowledge of marketing tactics won't help, I don't know what will.
The only solutions I see to my problem are total avoidance (a permananent trip to the woods), or a budget. Now that I'm in the habit of creating a budget every month, I have the power to defer purchases until such a time as I'm thinking clearly about all my various spending and investing goals. For me, the budget is unparalleled in creating personal boundaries against the evil marketers who are out to get my wallet share.
So this holiday season, feel free to rant about marketers and the inundation of commercialism everywhere, but remember, if you're a sucker like me, then it's your fault, and also my fault for advertising to you.
Sorry you're a sucker. I'm sorry that I'm a good marketer because I'm a sucker. Maybe we should just #OptOutside, oh wait that's an advertising campaign too.
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.