Today’s economic environment is terrifying for most Americans. Jobs are disappearing, workers are being furloughed, and entire industries have practically vanished in a matter of weeks. There’s no sign that the government plans on providing any more assistance than it already has. If ever there were a time to cinch our belts and sure up our budgets, it’s now.
But you wouldn’t know that by the advertisements that bombard us during our binge watches, internet marathons, and aimless channel surfing in search of classic sports replays (we miss baseball). If the economy is so uncertain, why are these companies still trying to part us from our money? And why aren’t they using those advertising dollars to help support their furloughed workforces instead? (We actually won’t get into that here, but the answer involves some combination of budget allocation and corporate greed.)
We’ll try to tackle those questions in this blog. As accountants and financial advisors, it’s our duty to help you be fiscally responsible. We’re the little angel sitting on one shoulder telling you to put your money in a savings account, while the little devil of That Thing You Wanted begs you to buy out of boredom from the other shoulder. We recommend that you never spend frivolously, and especially not now.
Now, let’s talk advertising.
Not Everyone is Struggling
First and foremost, advertisers are still advertising because there are people who still have money to spend. While huge swaths of America’s workforce have been laid off in recent weeks, there are plenty who have been forced to continue on as “essential workers.” There’s plenty of debate to be had over just who falls into that category, and exactly where to draw the line between essential workers and exploited wage slaves, but not on this friendly neighborhood accounting blog!
On top of those who are still working, there’s a population who never had to work in the first place. The rich are still rich, and they’re just as isolated and bored as the rest of us (no matter how many more rooms or swimming pools or private helicopters they may have). What they really need to brighten up their days is something new, and advertisers are hoping that something will be their product.
So in essence, advertisers are advertising to exactly the same people they always have been—people with money. People with disposable income.
But they aren’t the only people seeing these ads. And so the advertisers are also targeting another demographic they always have been—people who aren’t smart about their spending.
Not Everyone is Saving
And therein lies the problem—not for advertisers, but for consumers. It takes a rare combination of awareness and willpower to resist the constant temptations of advertising. As long as people keep buying, companies will keep advertising. And when people stop buying, they’ll only advertise harder.
So when you ask why you’re seeing all these new ads, the short and sweet version is because someone is still buying stuff. And that’s okay, as long as it’s the people who can afford to be doing it.
This is where we get to put our financial advisor hats back on for a moment and circle back to our original admonition: never spend frivolously. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. If you can afford it, but don’t need it—don’t buy it. Saving money is always important, especially when things are so uncertain.
Planning for the Future
Stress shopping and impulse buying are real things, and advertisers aren’t going to let up anytime soon. If you feel yourself drawn by the temptations of advertising to spend some of your hard-earned money, just remember you have that little angel accountant on your shoulder. See us? There we are, plinking away on our golden tabulators, our cherubesque cheeks ruddy, breath ripe with the smell of burnt coffee as we whisper in your ear, “don’t buy that. Save that money for a rainy day.”
Think of that, and then see if you can even remember what it was you wanted to buy in the first place.
In the meantime, we’re always happy to help you plan a budget to help navigate these trying times. If you’d like to speak directly with one of our financial angels, get in touch today!