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Understanding money, debt and income. Deceptive advertising and marketing manipulation, how to get the best values, the Columbine tragedy, and even a little history of mass marketing. Editorials by Rick Doble, Editor.
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Everyone needs what human beings have always needed: food, clothing and shelter. In a modern society basic needs also include transportation, medical services, and education.

And then there is what we want: a new car, a bigger house, a great vacation, some elegant clothes. Advertisers spend billions of dollars trying to get us to buy their wares, things we do not need but definitely want.

After that the picture gets murky because what used to an obvious need or want is no longer clear. For example, I could write this newsletter with a pencil and paper or with a typewriter but instead I write it on a computer costing over $1000.

Do I really need this fancy electronic equipment? Busy families often buy take-out food several times a week. With very little time, isn't this something they need to do?

A female executive at a company might be expected to own elegant clothes. She needs these for her work. Today a family vacation could be essential. It may be one of the few occasions that all the members of the family can spend quality time together.

What used to be any easy question is now much more difficult.

However, because we buy all this stuff many families have no savings and live paycheck to paycheck. In spite of what you've read, the reality is that Americans are now earning twice as much money as they were fifty years ago. However, they are also working much longer hours and are deep in debt.

Over the last fifty years Americans have decided to live better with the money they've earned. Today the average house is twice the size it was in 1945 with half as many persons living there; many people have an air conditioners in their homes and cars; many families have two or more cars; households have several color televisions, numerous radios, and CD players. Furthermore the family expects to go to the mall and the local fast food restaurants on a regular basis.

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In addition our expectations have changed. Things that used to be luxuries are now considered ordinary such as home pizza delivery or cable TV.

Furthermore people spend billions of dollars each year on impulsive purchases that they never planned, and then they charge those purchases on a credit card. Because most people have so little time, many have decided to spend instead of save the money they earn. They want to enjoy the little free time that's available to them.

As a result Americans have one of the lowest savings rates in the world. Millions of people will not have enough money for retirement. As a country we will be facing a serious crisis, when the baby boomers retire.

We need to get back to basics. We need to make savvy decisions so that we get the full benefit of our money.

So before you spend your hard earned money ask yourself this simple question: Do I need this or do I just want this? Will buying this bring a substantial benefit to me or my family or is it something we can live without?

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| Impulse buying | Introduction; How To Cut Your Household Budget By $5000 A Year | Price comparison book -- how to compare prices. |

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