Actually I don't think that I'm more vulnerable to tactics of marketing people than most people.Your quote above tells me a lot about you more than anything else. It seems to me (based on your quote) that you are especially susceptible to the tactics of marketing people.
I do think that I'm a bit more aware and more honest to myself about what my vulnerablities are than most people. This comes less from any sort of intrinsic virtue, than spending a huge amount of time around sales people.
I'm in an environment in which people can and will screw you over if you let them, and in that environment, knowing what your weaknesses are is pretty important.
Needs are subjective and mostly psychological. Most of the important needs are things like the need for the approval of others, the need for human contact. Also, if you have an emotional desire to be seen as frugal, there are a lot of psychological tactics for that. Coupons, for example.Remember, the whole purpose of marketing people is to sell you something, whether you actually need it or not, so by nature I am deeply suspicious of anyone who is a marketer or someone with a marketing background. Call me stingy or stubborn if you will, but that's my nature.
The other thing is that selling is part of the human condition. I have a high respect for expertise, and watching expert sales and marketing people in action is sometimes like watching poetry in motion. The other thing is that I have a deep desire to understand the universe, and some of the most important things that I've discovered about the universe have involved interactions with sales people.
Riddles and code words. For example, if you want to sell me a car. Pictures of pretty women doesn't do it. However, if you show me charts and diagrams, and give me a thick brochure with integral signs and equations, that will get my attention. Talk about fuel economy and the environment.
Not in the NYC area.As far as your example about the choice between a nice house vs a run down neighbourhood -- that is a false choice in many parts of the world. There are many places in the world where a nice home or house is easily affordable, and there are other places where those homes are available for rent.
Actually you aren't. If you buy stocks and bonds, you are going through a broker, and not only does the broker make money from commission, they also make money from the spread. In the case of mutual funds, companies are required by law to disclose fees, but in the case of direct stocks and bonds, all you know is that you bought or sold the stock for $X. Unless you have a seat on the exchange, you just bought or sold it from someone that makes money off the spread.The alternative is for me to directly invest in stocks and bonds (cutting out the middleman altogether) with the risks that come with that, or just stick my money in my bank account or buy US Treasury bonds -- low return, but safe.
US Treasury bonds go through broker dealers. The amount you are paying is slightly different from what the government pays, and part of the difference goes into my bonus. Checking accounts are loss leaders. Banks lose money on checking accounts, but every time you go there, you'll get some ad for credit cards or mortgages. Banks make $$$$ from people that carry a balance, but even if you don't carry a balance, they make money from the transaction fee that goes between the merchant and the bank.
To be fair the amount of money from these sorts of transactions are small. So small in fact that it's not worth your effort to avoid them. The amount of money that you are paying from the stock spread works out to a few cents on any reasonable transaction, but those pennies build up.
There's a difference between not caring and how you care. For example, if my wife thought that I was wasting my money, I *would* care a lot. It so happens that if I drove to work in a sports car or wore extremely expensive suits, that the people in my social group would say extremely bad things about me, and being seen as irresponsible at spending would seriously bother me.The point I'm making is that in the balance of spending and saving, I err on the side of saving when possible, and do my utmost to keep my spending on firm check. I really don't give one whit what anyone else says about my spending habits -- if I don't dress in the latest Armani suit, that's not important to me.
It's common for intellectuals to laugh at people from being consumerist and driven by fashion. But I sometimes wonder how fair that is. It's not important to me to dress in the latest Armani suit, but it would tickle me pink to be a keynote speaker at a AAS conference or to be asked to serve on a grant review committee, and one thing that I wonder is whether or not my social needs are any different from the person that wants a sports car.
It so happens that the thriftness and frugality are highly valued among the people whose opinions I care about, but I wonder if this need for social approval isn't that much different from people that have different values.