Thursday, October 13, 2016

Thank you Mr. Zabelin, Wherever you are

"Save money , Live Better" 

This is a current catch phrase used by Walmart in an advertising campaign.
Is cheap better? Does saving money really equate to a better life?
Let's unpack this a little bit...
sure, we all want to have extra money at the end of the month, having some money left over would be nice. However, let's talk about something I learned about from my high school consumer education teacher, Mr. Zabelin wayyyy back in the day; let's talk about "opportunity cost".

Opportunity cost represents an alternative given up when a decision is made. Example: If we decide to choose to shop at the least expensive places such as big box stores as Walmart's ad campaign suggests we do, we may sacrifice some things in the process, such as quality, or maybe even some of our own personal values (with or without realizing it in the process).  Settling for the least expensive products on the market through places such as a big box store, or a discount chain store, can give us the least expensive choice, but can often give us a product that soon needs replacing due to lack of quality, it may not hold up very long or stand up to much wear and tear as something handmade might. When items are mass produced, many times, it's about quantity and not quality. Often, it's about meeting a daily quota in a factory, and not about getting seams straight, or making sure each item is made to specifications, and what happens when the person making things in factory isn't as invested in that product? the quality lacks greatly. An item that is individually made or made in small quantities is more likely to be more expensive because much more time and care is put into each item, but what results when that happens? you get a much better made product, a higher quality product results. When a person who owns the company is making the product himself or herself you are definitely going to see a big difference in the quality of each and every item being produced by that company because their name and reputation is on the line with every piece going out the door. 

What do I mean by sacrificing some of our own personal values with or without realizing it when we shop at discount or big box stores? many times when we purchase items from places such as these, we dont' think about where the products have originated from. We only concentrate on the bottom line, the price tag. We want the cheapest price. We want the best deal possible with no thought of WHY we are getting these items so affordably. There is a back story to every single item up for purchase in the marketplace today~whether handmade or mass produced, some with a nice story, and some with a not-so-nice story. Some of these items that are mass produced may have been produced overseas with forced prison labor, or child labor. YES, this really does happen, still in this day and age. It is not rare, it is not a thing of the past, many countries importing goods into the United States have horrible human rights records, and it's up to us as consumers to do our homework. When you purchase a handmade item, you are assured of who made it, there is no question this is not the case.

The next time you see an ad paper, or sale flyer and see rock bottom , or dirt cheap prices, you need to ask yourself, if cheap is really the way you want or need to go. Can you get something better by paying a little more? What is the opportunity cost to the local economy? Can you get something much better quality, and you know it will last a great deal longer if you buy something individually made rather than mass produced? Can your shopping habits make a difference in an individuals life rather than a corporation? Can you intentionally use your shopping dollars to reinforce your morals and values and beliefs? 

Is saving money, really living better? ....
It's all about your perspective, I suppose.

Heather (GoosieGirl)

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