Smarter Spending and the Joy of Less

I’m a marketer so of course I want people to buy things.

Like (Virgin) mobile phones and domestic and trans-Atlantic flights for example.

But as we approach another “Black Friday” holiday shopping season kickoff…

Part of me can’t help but think – do we really need all this stuff that’s being advertised?

You may recall a very unfortunate incident when a Wal-Mart employee was actually trampled to death at Wal-Mart during this day.

What could have been so crucial to buy that worked people into such a mob frenzy?

For the last year I’ve been taking a new approach to spending and loving it.

I call it the Joy of Less. I wrote about it last summer.

It started with the onset of the Recession. Like many people, with uncertainty looming, I felt a need to save more and to be more careful with my spending.

But what started as an act of deprivation soon turned in to a source of joy.

Are You a Hybrid Mom?

hybridfallbigWhat is a Hybrid Mom?

Hybrid Mom is a magazine I learned about at last week’s Women’s Conference.

How do you know if this magazine is for you?

Well according to their website, you are a Hybrid mom…

If you have ever:

– Owned a purse that functions as a diaper bag, laptop case, tote and/or contains both a cell phone and some stray Cheerios

– Prayed that your mute button is not broken while on a conference call

– Had a great idea for a business, but no clue what to do with it

– Worked from a local coffeehouse to have more peace and quiet then at the home office

– Had to make the choice between a big meeting and a little league game

– Thought “balance” is overrated, yet strived for some form of it each day

I think the concept is interesting. I personally answered “yes” to all of the above.

The summer issue is available for free in a digital version on the website.

Stop Recording…Start Living!

Often the wisest words come from the mouths of babes.

Or in my case, the mouth of a very bright 8 year old boy…my son Sacha.

On our recent holiday in France, I was so busy trying to record every moment to share (via Facebook, and email etc) with friends and family back home…that I wasn’t fully experiencing the moments as they were happening.

In this particular instance I was trying to capture an adorable picture of Sacha during his circus lessons.

Obsessed with gettting the perfect shot, I wasn’t really watching the trick he was trying to show me.

“Stop taking picutres, and look!” he cried.

Instantly I knew he was right. The real value of the moment was in the moment.

Not in the picture or pithy update quote to be posted or tweeted later.

So I put down the camera and I really watched. And it was pretty cool.

And then I took a few quick shots.

And maybe I didn’t capture exactly the perfect smile or get the ideal shot.

But when I close my eyes I can see it vividly and I can hear the excitement in his voice when he realized I was really present and paying attention.

Experiences are great to share, but first they should be…well…experienced.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?
Has recording gotten in the way of experiencing for you?

The Joy of Less

Lately I’ve been paring down my shopping and loving it

I think it started in the Fall with the onset of the Recession. I suddenly felt a need to save more and to be more careful with my spending.

Thankfully this wasn’t in reaction to a significant change in my own financial situation.

It was more an underlying sense of unease about the economy, and possibly I also got caught up in the national wave of belt-tightening.

But what started as an act of deprivation has turned in to a source of joy.

Instead of shopping for clothes this summer. I’ve been shopping my own closet.

And as part of this, I’ve done a serious purge of all the frivolous “well, it’s only $20 dollars, how can I resist?” items that crammed the shelfs and racks.

These superfluous little splurges weren’t adding up to too much monetarily. But they were choking my closet and keeping me from seeing the clothes I have and want to wear.

It’s like I had so much stuff… that in the morning when I went to get dressed for work… I felt I had nothing.

Which would prompt a need to go shopping again, and the vicious cycle continued.

The joy of passing these clothes on to friends of mine and to charity made this purge even more satisfying.

As part of my new pared down approach, I’ve also decided I am going to adopt a sort of uniform in the Fall. Black, white (and occasional grey) separates and only accents in color (e.g. belts,scarfs, jewelery).

I only made this decision a few weeks ago, but already it’s proved to be very liberating. I can walk right past the stores in Soho crying to me with their many colored dresses, tunics, shoes etc.

Since these items don’t fit my simple dress plan I keep on walking.

I have a few friends that have also taken this approach in terms of their homes.

Because of job transfers, break-ups etc. they are renting furnished apartments. The majority of their stuff has been disposed of or put in storage. They took with them only what would fit in one or two suitcases.

To a person, they have told me that being unburdened from all their stuff is an incredibly positive and freeing experience.

Now as a brand person, I feel a bit guilty about this new philosophy.

Isn’t conspicuous consumption, the oil that greases the wheels of the economy?

I don’t claim that my actions alone are bringing the economy to a grinding halt.

(Although I do bet the DSW Shoe warehouse in Westchester is feeling the pinch of my abstinence).

But as a human being I feel lighter, healthier almost. And when I do occasionally buy something now, I cherish it’s significance more. I value it more.

I wonder what will happen when the money and optimism starts flowing again. Will consumer go back to their free-spending ways?

There are different points of view on this. But I have a hunch that the “joy of less” will remain with some of us even when the world goes back to “more”.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?
Have you experienced the joy of less?

This Memory Sponsored by…

I took my 8 year old son to a Mets game at Citi Field Friday night.

And while the 3-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, was disappointing, what really got me was the overabundance of “sponsored” moments at the game.

I know this is not a new phenomenon, and I know that the Mets are not alone in this.

But what really got to me was the disappointment in my 8 year old’s voice when he remarked, “there sure are a lot of ads here, Mom.”

There’s a lot that’s right with Citi Field and the experience. The facade is beautiful, the people that work there (from the food servers, the security staff, to the man who runs the elevator) were all so warm and friendly.

The food options are great. And the Jackie Robinson Rotunda allows for an important teaching moment.

But the view is crammed with so many billboards and every single break in play is sponsored by yet another company with a branded “moment” or an inane “contest” (e.g. best stadium kiss, best show of soft hands, best pass the pizza boxes down the aisle etc, ect).

Each of these ends with some group of “lucky fans” winning a gift certificate to a restaurant, sporting store, even a gift basket of hand creams.

In my opinion, it takes away from the overall brand connection with the Mets and the stadium.

It was a beautiful summer night, our first time at the new field, a special mother-son outing, and a memory in the making.

I was treasuring every minute of my “Hallmark Moment” I guess I just didn’t need to be so blatantly reminded who it was sponsored by.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?
Do you think sports event branding has gone too far or is this just the new norm?