Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Get What You Deserve

I was watching TV the other day and I saw a Rent-a-Center commercial that said, "Come in and get the furnishings you deserve!" I was a little shocked by this because I had thought (mistakently, obviously) that we had learned our lesson with this whole economic meltdown: If you can't afford it, you don't "deserve" it. Isn't that what got us into this mess in the first place?

The more I thought about this, the more I am realizing that this idea of spending more then we earn, that we are entitled to flat screen TV's and large cars, is somehow ingrained in our culture. Perhaps I am the last person in America to realize this shocking cultural phenomenon, but I- like I know all of you- was raised to believe that if you can't pay for it, you can't get it (hence, we went without a lot).

Is it just me, or does it seem strange that advertisers are still using the sneaky lines today that they used 5 years ago- that even in the midst of an economic crisis, we are entitled to nice furniture? I do not believe this is a political issue, but rather a societal issue- and one that needs to be changed! We have talked about the economy on a political level, but I guess in this post I am thinking more in terms of or society as a whole, and I have two questions:

1. How did we get to thinking we deserve things we can't afford?
2. How do we teach our children that spending more then you earn is an incorrect principle when so many around them are doing just that?

I am tempted to write Rent-a-Center a letter.


The Bradfords said...

You are spot on, Christina. And I agree that Rent-a-Center is being socially irresponsible by saying those things in their ads. I think the answer to both of your questions has to do with advertising. We are bomabarded with advertisements of this nature every time we watch TV, read magazines or newspapers, even on the internet. Those ads may not always tell us outright that we are entitled to things, but they sure make us want more things.

As for our children, we can't shelter them completely from all advertising, but we should do as much as we can. The main reason we don't have cable TV in our home is because of the advertisements. When my daughter was 3 years old we did a brief 6-month stint with cable TV. She developed such a strong attitude of "I want, I want, I want" that we got rid of cable. My kids are allowed to watch most anything on PBS (their advertising isn't as harmful in my opinion) and we pick and choose other programs. Let me tell you though--when a Victoria's Secret ad comes on and my 14 year old son(and/or my husband) is watching, I turn the TV off as quickly as I can.

okbushmans said...

Completely agree. Goes back to what I said about Octomom, just because you "can" doesn't mean you "should". Everytime I am in Target or Old Navy, and they ask if I would like to apply for one of their credit cards, I reply "Do they seriously think people are interested in credit cards?" And without fail, they respond, "You'd be surprised how many are still interested!"

You ladies are sounding dangerously close to fiscal I dare dream? Is this an April Fools joke? Being frustrated or concerned with what has become our "Entitlement society"? What has caused it? Can we blame our parents goals of "giving us what they never had?" Easy accessibility to worldly materials? I think it is a combination of a lot of factors, but until that is attitude is fixed, I don't think our economy will fully recover.

Ben and Christina said...

Ben and I are definitely fiscally conservative in our household- some people might call us cheap, I prefer saying we are "resourceful" and "smart" with our money:)

Before when I saw commercials like that I would just laugh. But this time it really did make me angry! Haven't people caught on yet? And, I do worry about teaching my kids that they aren't entitled to a cell phone at age 8 or a car at age 16. When I hear about grown-ups who have $40,000 in credit card debt I can't believe it! We had a member of the 70 come and speak at our ward conference and in the adult session he said that over 50% of Mormons who lose their jobs do not have enough money or supplies for ONE MONTH to cover their expenses. That's crazy- and really sad. Something has to change!

Lula O said...

The problems with today's society are not the fault of any political party, or idealogy even, but a general attitude of - keeping up the the Jones, that has increased exponentially with each generation and after a period of extreme growth (and money-making) has now come home to roost. Rich people took big risks and now us little people are paying the absolutely unfair price.

The cover of my last Newsweek had a picture of Uncle Sam saying - I want you to start spending, invest in America before it's too late. Car dealerships are complaining that no one is buying a new car of late. Sad to say (for them), I doubt it will rebound to what it was, and I agree with you ladies, I don't think it ever should. But just because I'm conservative with my own finances doesn't mean I wouldn't help someone in need if I could. Those are the kinds of "entitlements" I can agree with.

Danielle and Jason said...

Well, we still have a 20" tube tv that works just fine. I don't think i want my toddler's fingerprints all over a brand new flat screen, personally.
This is a bigger problem than just advertisements. I heard an interview of a congresswoman from California on NPR (I think?) talking about American's right to car loans specifically. Umm...excuse me? Credit is something that you earn. Certainly very few of us are going to be able to go out and pay cash for big things like a house, but that doesn't mean we then have a right to OWN a house. What got us into this mess was not credit specifically, but the over-extension of credit. The idea that you should buy the biggest house you could possibly be approved for whether or not you could really afford the monthly payments or other upkeep. Granted, not everyone who got into this mess did it because of their own personal greed, there were banks involved who convinced people they COULD afford these big mortgages.
My husband, as a bankruptcy attorney, comes home at least weekly with stories about people who come in earning, say, $4000 a month, and are trying to save their house which costs them, say, $3700 a month. Where did these people come from? The other thing that he talks a lot about is how attached people become to their things. Suggest selling the house which you can't actually afford? Gasp! But it's MINE!