Monday, July 06, 2009

Buying nothing may cost you

The anti-consumerists who publish Adbusters magazine like to turn the biggest shopping day of the year — the day after Thanksgiving — inside out by calling it “Buy Nothing Day.”

I’m finding this economy is doing a far better job than the Adbusters “Culture Jammers,” as they call themselves. The recession-teetering-on-depression is turning every day into a “buy nothing day.”

In the good old days of easy money I would regularly get an irrational urge to buy something — anything. I couldn’t explain it. It must have been Pavlovian without my being aware of the stimulus. A song perhaps. Likely a jingle. Or a smell. Or a color.

Cast under a spell, I’d search for some urgent need, or more often, blatant, sensual desire. It could be as little as jamocha almond fudge ice cream or as great as a 1972 MGB roadster.

But since the great economic downturn, months go by without a “Buy Something (Anything!) Day” twinge.

I was reminded of the infrequency today when I went out to buy something I actually needed. The experience created an odd variation of the old twinge. I found I was mildly disappointed when my entire purchase came to $2.69.

Talk about inconspicuous consumption.

I needed a connector that converts stereo headphones to monaural.

Here I can feel a long, boring explanatory paragraph coming on. I’ll spare you except to say that a new hearing device I bought (yes, bought!) a couple of months back, doesn’t accept stereo headphones or earbuds. It deals with them by sending sound to only one ear.

Not good, especially if you are going deaf in the first place. I definitely need sound to both ears.

The nice fellow at Radio Shack solved the problem for $2.69. I was expecting, even anticipating, spending at least $5. And then the clerk tells me that if I go to the company web site and answer a few questions (weasel word alert: “a few questions.” That’s what the phone survey folks say too.), Radio Shack will "give" me $10 off my next $40 purchase.

Let's see. I spend $2.69 and get $10 off my next $40 purchase. Hmmmm. I’m wondering whether I might make a modest living by buying cheap connectors at Radio Shack and answering questions on-line questions.

Could it be I can’t afford to buy nothing?

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