Going Broke: Seeing Is Believing

I am almost done reading Going Broke by Stuart Vyse and it just so happens, I had the interesting opportunity to do some shopping this weekend. Our daughter needed some clothes to round out her summer wardrobe and more importantly, we needed a new blender. We had an inexpensive full size blender back in California and honestly, I don’t remember when it stopped working. After Avery was born, my in-laws bought us a single serve blender to help us make baby food at home. We got more use out of it than just for making baby food, but after several months of use, I broke it. I purchased a second blender by the same brand and that one also broke late last year and we decided to buy one this weekend at Kohl’s. We decided that buying a full size blender meant for constant use was the best option for us; Kohl’s had it on sale and we had a 20% off coupon (that also applied to Avery’s new clothes) to further reduce the price.

I don’t mean to get distracted, but what was a little more important for me to share was the use of advertising that I noticed at Kohl’s. It’s been a couple of years since I shopped in Kohl’s and this time, I noticed the clever use of electronic sales “tags”. Look at these things:

Electronic sales tags...when did these start getting used in stores?!

Electronic sales tags…when did these start getting used in stores?!

Trying to be mindful of what I’ve learned in reading Going Broke, I didn’t want to mindlessly buy a lot of things at Kohl’s. Instead, I took this shopping trip as an opportunity to look at how our culture encourages spending. The kitchen goods section of Kohl’s was a great place to look at the power of branding. I’ve seen before how different Food Network stars like Bobby Flay, Giada DeLaurentis, and Rachel Ray launched their own product lines; yesterday, I was absolutely surprised to see that Food Network itself now has its own line of products.

Look at some of their offerings:
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We live in a culture where our homes are likely to always be full of branded products, name brand or generic. It’s not necessarily a bad thing because we gravitate towards products that suit our personal tastes and functional needs, but we should be careful to keep our spending in mind. There are constant temptations like how one of my favorite tv channels, Food Network, came out with a whole line of products. Do I need those things? Most of them, not really. Would it be fun down the road to get a couple things I really like, sure. But I don’t need those items to be happy. Those small splurges aren’t necessary, at least not now until something in my kitchen breaks like our blender that warranted our shopping trip to Kohl’s this weekend.

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