Even if the economy tanks, I won't give up my...

My default position is frugality: Unless you actually need it to survive, you don't need it. Yet this doesn't align with my actual position. Why, just last night I savored an expensive square of dark chocolate and drank loose-leaf tea. Both wants.

Kevin Roberts calls them Lovemarks. I call them concessions, and sometimes allowances, and sometimes coping mechanisms. Regardless of how frugal I claim to be, I have wants that feel like needs.

1. What indulgence (want) will you hang onto even if the economy tanks?

2. Read the following post by Seth Godin. He blames marketing for spoiling us, but leaves room for Lovemarks, too.

"I had lunch (a big lunch) with a college student last week. An hour later, she got up and announced she was going to get a snack. Apparently, she was hungry.

By any traditional definition of the word, she wasn’t actually hungry. She didn’t need more fuel to power her through an afternoon of sitting around. No, she was bored. Or yearning for a feeling of fullness. Or eager for the fun of making something or the break in the routine that comes from eating it. Most likely, she wanted the psychic satisfaction that she associates with eating well-marketed snacks.

Marketers taught us this." Read more...

6 comments:

Real Live Preacher November 18, 2008 at 11:40 AM  

I think this is one of those artistic, hard to define things. Like how extravagant should we be with worship? Should we spend $25,000 on a piano or should we give that money to the poor. The answer...sometimes either is right. Jesus called us to care for the poor, even at times calling some to sell all they have. And then the woman who breaks a $20,000 (current value) bottle of nard over his feet is blessed for her extravagant act of worship, in part because wherever the gospel is told she will be remembered. Her act will be a blessing to future generations.

So how do I know when to be frugal and wise and when to throw a party?

The Spirit my only answer.

Sam Van Eman November 18, 2008 at 5:34 PM  

rlp, I think you're asking heart questions. Going with the piano example, Why is someone proposing $25K for a piano? For honorable worship? Perhaps. Or to keep in step with all of the other expensive items in our church? Perhaps. Or to have a quality sound system that makes our church an attracting concert site? Perhaps. Or because my name will be etched under "Gift lovingly donated by"? Perhaps. Although, when justifying buying the piano over giving to the poor, my guess is that most people would say "worship" - not because they're lying, but because they have convinced themselves (convincingly!) that it's really for worship.

Okay, maybe I'm indirectly confessing that my own heart doesn't know the difference between want and need.

The point is that wants and needs and our reasons for wanting and needing them are tricky matters to discern. And marketers rarely help.

As far as dark chocolate goes, I'm pretty sure I don't need it, but I'll probably hang on to it anyway.

By the way, rlp, what want will you hang on to even if the economy tanks?

Red Letter Believers November 18, 2008 at 11:04 PM  

i think as the market tanks and our economy continues to sour, we may all actually identify those indulgences...those things that we truly care about.

Its actually a spiritual discipline-- the discipline of waiting

Sam Van Eman November 19, 2008 at 11:41 AM  

Speaking of spiritual disciplines, maybe we should be proactive in the future and schedule something like this every decade or so. Seriously, the Jubilee concept of Leviticus 25 was supposed to function as an economic and social re-setting of sorts, but to my knowledge it's never happened.

We don't like pain, so the only re-setting that occurs is reactive, when tragedy of one kind or another strikes and forces us to re-set.

Side note: Anyone see "Batman Begins"? According to the story, this forced re-set is - and has been throughout history - the work of the League of Shadows. They were behind Gotham's doom because they city had become too comfortable and immoral. Interesting concept.

goodwordediting November 20, 2008 at 4:36 PM  

Reminds me of my Russian friends at Laity Lodge last week. "Economic Crisis?" they said. "This is no economic crisis. When half the population is out in the snow without a coat and nothing in their stomach for a week, you can call it a crisis. This is just some people who can't buy new cars next year."

OK, he was joking and admitted to oversimplifying everything. But he's got a good point. We need to keep this stuff in perspective.

As for me, I'd give up quite a bit before I cut off my cable modem at home.

Sam Van Eman November 20, 2008 at 5:29 PM  

I avoided using the word "crisis" in the title of the post for that reason. It feels like a crisis, and I guess it could become one, but few of us know what it's like to really suffer.

Cable modem, eh? I only have mid-speed DSL. Not too hard to think about parting with it.

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