Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Expense: Pillow Pets and other As Seen on TV ads

Pillow Pets

They're cute and cuddly. "It's a pillow, it's a pet... it's a PILLOW PET!" My girls went to the mall yesterday and wouldn't you know it they were selling pillow pet for $25 each.

Background: The commercials are on tv. Little girls and boys flock around a pillow with a velcro strap. When the strap is attached, the four corners become little legs of an animal (a pet) and when you release the strap... it's back to a pillow. Easy EASY concept, but very good marketing.

So my daughter wants one. She wants a ladybug. I tell her for the past 3+ months. Let's save up our change, our pennies, quarters and all those other loose dollar bills we've been getting. Well it all came to a head yesterday when she actually held one and was VERY close in buying one. These marketers know the heart of a child.

Anyways, mommy tells her that we'll go home to count to money in the piggy bank when daddy comes home and we'll get one.

Counting the Piggy

When I get home we empty all 3 piggy banks... count... count... count... $27 and change. Okay enough to buy one pillow pet. But you know what? She also wants one for her younger sister, cousin and a friend's birthday. Ok. That'll be almost $100 for four pillows.

That's breaking the bank.

Oh well. What do we do with these sly marketers? Grandma wanted to make one for her. She was going to design a pillowpet and add the "patented" hook and loop strap.


Here are my suggestions for not falling for these marketing people:

1. Watch less TV, you'll be bombarded with less commercials
2. Stay out of malls, toys r us and other large stores that offer many temptations for kids.
3. Teach your kids to be content with what they have.
4. Give stuff as a response to your desires for wanting more stuff.

Anyways, there's more, but most important it is the heart of the child that is the main issue at hand. Learning to say NO and learning to defer gratification is a discipline that must be learned. We are not naturally inclined to say NO. We are not naturally inclined to be disciplined in saving and spending. When temptations are too great and many toys and gadgets overwhelm us (even adults, let alone kids), we just have to have it... we can't say no. We need help. We need a third party or some other menas to help us to put things into perspective.

If someone can't handle saying no, then we help them a little at a time. Don't overwhelm them with such great desires they cannot control. This is same with adults. I know if I walk into a Best Buy or Microcenter, I start to drool. I like electronic gadgets. I like to touch them and play with them. But I also know I have other responsibilities that are greater than buying the latest toy. So my conscience, with the help of being reminded of my responsibilities to my kids, my wife, my family, I try to seek that which is most beneficial. I'll run these scenarios in my mind, cost benefit analysis, utility, enjoyment, what are my goals... etc. Stuff that will help me to see if this is truly a WANT or a NEED.

But what about a child who only understands. I want this? Well, this is a definitely a teachable moment. I've taken my daughter to Toys R Us many times. And each time before I enter the store, I tell her: "When Daddy says let's go home, it means time to go home."

This doesn't really teach her to defer gratification, but it does teach her that at that time, what "Daddy says is best for her." And for ToyRUs is a great place to play with toys without actually having to buy them. So we make it a fun little date and hopefully she'll realize that it's not the stuff that she has that makes the experience, but who she's with and where her heart is directed that matters.

We'll see. We live in a very materialistic culture and it's going to be a huge battle (I already foresee it) to discern that which is best versus that which is not so good.

Lord have mercy on us :)

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