Advertising Works: So What Do We Do About It?

So you’ve bought a copy of The Old Money Book. You’ve assessed your personal situation and have begun to implement the principle of living better while spending less.  You’re trying to shop less often, purchase better quality products, and save money. But for some reason, you still find yourself buying things you don’t really need, or even want, and you can’t figure out why.

The answer is advertising. It was recently reported that Americans spend an average of 34 hours a week watching television, where companies spent over $50 billion dollars in a single year advertising goods and services to viewers. On the internet, the figure was $26 billion. A recent study calculated that we receive over 3000 nonverbal messages each day telling us that we are a consumer and we need to buy something. Three thousand.

We can’t pretend that advertising doesn’t affect us. It does. It affects everybody. It works. If it did not work, companies would not spend money on it. Sometimes, advertising is beneficial to buyers: it tells us what products or services are available  and at what price. (Finding quality items that we use on a regular basis is a great thing.) Most of the time, however, advertising creates a desire or a “need” where there is none, or it promotes a product of substandard quality (fast food).

So if you’re trying to live an Old Money life and are having trouble with getting off the consumer merry-go-round, examine the amount of time you’re exposing yourself to advertising. It’s everywhere. Television, the internet, newspapers, magazines, billboards. You can’t get away from it completely, but you can retreat in order to gain perspective.  

An Old Money friend of mine once grumbled, “If you see it advertised, don’t buy it.” I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I understand his point. Fast food, new cars, the latest fashion, they’re all advertised heavily. But if you didn’t buy any of them, you’d be no worse off. Probably better off. And keep in mind, when you purchase items you see advertised, you are not only paying for the product, you’re paying for the advertising costs, too.

Nobody advertises fresh fruits and vegetables at the local farmers market. You don’t see ads encouraging you to go for a daily walk, or to go to your local public library and check out a book. There’s no profit in it for anybody. Anybody but you, that is.

Here are some suggestions:

If you watch television, watch less television, and watch public television, where advertising is minimal and in good taste.

Monitor the amount of time you spend online and reduce it. Virtual reality is not reality. The world will not end if you turn your phone off.

Drop your subscriptions to the fashion magazines, boys and girls. Learn how to dress and how to behave from books and mentors. Get the voices out of your head so you can listen to your own little voice that is never wrong.

Back off the celebrity worship. Celebrity is an advertisement telling you that someone else’s life is more exciting, more fulfilling, and more rewarding than your life. That’s only true if you let it be true.


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