Beware the Insidious Power of Marketing

Advertising is powerful. Avoiding it — in print, on radio, on television — is one of the best ways to control your urge to spend. When you willingly expose yourself to commercial pitches, you risk spending more than you intend. I've posted two articles recently about how marketing manipulates us to buy things. Allow me to belabor this point one last time before I move on. It's important.

Corporations manipulate us in subtle ways. We know television commercials are designed to sell us things, but how many really understand that their power is felt primarily at a subconscious level, beneath awareness? It's not that a Taco Bell commercial makes you go buy a chalupa now; it's that weeks later you'll find yourself pulling into a drive-thru when you could have been home in a few minutes preparing a salad.

The other day I wrote that people who watch the Super Bowl just for the commercials may be sabotaging themselves. But it's not just television — marketers target us constantly. I could just as easily write about my own foolish choices. Every time Steve Jobs gives a keynote address, for example, I follow the live text updates. When the speech is over, I download the video. I willingly expose myself to these marketing machinations. And wouldn't you know it? My life is filled with Apple products. (My mind is working overtime trying to find a way to rationalize an iPhone.)

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Facing and Fighting Financial Trolls

Money is more about mind than it is about math — that's one of the fundamental precepts of this site.

If you improve your self-esteem, if you improve your mental attitude, if you improve your knowledge, you will improve your finances. To this end, it's important to avoid negative messages about money. It's difficult to improve your mental attitude when you're besieged by financial trolls.

What are financial trolls? In a recent article, Steve Pavlina shared five wealth lessons, the last of which was: financial trolls must be shown no mercy. Pavlina writes:

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Secrets of the Millionaire Mind


Initially, T. Harv Eker's Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth seems cast from the same mold as Loral Langemeier's The Millionaire Maker (my review): full of vague promises, unsupported claims, and thinly-veiled sales pitches for products and seminars. It's true that Eker is guilty of some of these faults. But ultimately I could not help but like the book once I stopped thinking of it as a personal finance guide and began to consider it as a motivational tool.

I'm sure that many people would dismiss Secrets of the Millionaire Mind as useless. There's not a lot of concrete information here about how to improve the details of your financial life. (Though the scant advice presented is sound). Instead, this book encourages readers to adopt mental attitudes that facilitate wealth. It's about changing your psychological approach to money, success, and happiness.

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What happens when you try to get rich quickly

Robert Kiyosaki, Robert Allen, and Loral Langemeier would have you believe that in order to get rich all you need to do is throw your money into real estate, sit back, and let the profits come. It's not that simple. There's risk involved. You have to know what you're doing.

Jon forwarded a link to what he calls "a personal finance trainwreck". He writes: "If this guy is for real (and there appears to be some suspicion about that) then, wow. Unbelievable." Casey at thought he could make a killing at real estate. He wanted to reach Financial Independence quickly.

I'm a 24-year-old aspiring real estate investor from Sacramento, California. After going to few seminars I bought eight houses in eight months across four states with no money down. I fixed and sold two and then ran out of cash. I am now facing foreclosure on six five houses. I'm learning my lessons, finding solutions and blogging about it.

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Control impulse spending with the 30-day rule

coin jar

I made a trip to Costco to buy business supplies last week. While browsing the software, I spotted the latest version of Quicken. I picked up the box and looked at the list of new features. I felt that urge creep upon me — the urge to spend. "Maybe the Mac version is out, too," I thought. "I should stop by Fry's to check."

Then I thought of the $50 it would cost to upgrade. I thought how Quicken 2004 has served me well for three years. I began to have doubts. "I'll use the 30-day rule," I told myself. "If I still want this next month, I'll buy it." Continue reading...

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Survey: What does money mean to you?

Get Rich Slowly is the final entrant in JLP's Question-of-the-Day Marathon. There have been many thought-provoking questions over the past month; I hope you've had a chance to contribute at some of the participating sites. My question is:

What Does Money Mean to You?

When I was a boy, my family was poor. Money then meant necessities to me. It was the key to obtaining essentials, especially food and clothing. Sometimes it opened other doors, too: candy, comic books, movies. But mostly it was a means to obtain the things we needed to survive.

When I was a young adult, however, my attitude changed. My father had a successful business venture, so we had more money when I was in high school. I went to a college where I was surrounded by kids from wealthy and successful families. I began to view money as the means whereby I could acquire the luxuries my peers seemed to already have. I acquired a lot of luxuries. I bought anything I wanted: books, computers, video games, gadgets, etc. I bought things even if I didn't have the money.

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Lessons About Money from the World of Warcraft

During late autumn and most of the winter, I live in another world. I join millions of others lost in Azeroth, the fictional universe for the computer game World of Warcraft. Believe it or not, one of the best lessons I've ever learned about money came from playing the game.

I was frustrated at never having enough gold to purchase the equipment I wanted, so on a whim I began to buy and sell goods at the in-game auction house. I was shocked at how much money I made. Normal gameplay might yield a few gold pieces per week, but I was able to make twenty or forty a week through arbitrage. And my character was fairly young! Over the course of a couple months, I was able to earn about 350 gold pieces, which is an amazing amount for a mid-level character.

And then I learned another lesson about researching investments when I spend all that money on a weapon of little value and a mad race to max out my Enchanting skills.

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