Upsides of Rampant American Consumerism

by JT McGee

Consumerism is a good thing!I was talking to Andrea at SoOverDebt about a new business venture she’s thinking about.

She laid out her idea, and plan—and, to be honest, my immediate response was far less than encouraging. I thought about it for about .2 seconds and then threw out my objections to the idea.

“Not another %#$^ing mommy blog!”

My annoyance with mommy bloggers is probably overdone. Mommy blogging (mostly) annoys me because they’re filled with 10000 ways you can be a stay at home mom and save $.50 on a package of tuna. In between these posts of frugal brilliance, you have posts about how spending money is the devil.

Whatever. I don’t spend a lot of money. But I also don’t care if other people spend their money. It’s yours, you have it, spend it how you want and we’ll call it a day. Just don’t expect me to bail you out when you run out of money because I don’t have a rainy day fund for your rainy days. I wouldn’t expect the same from you, anyway.

But this got me thinking about the upsides of rampant American consumerism. (I should probably say here that Andrea’s idea isn’t just another mommy blog.)

Why I love your spending problem

I love that people spend their money. It’s awesome. Here’s two great examples of products or services that are geared to people who have more money than time:

Sockscription – What? Yeah, man—it’s socks on a subscription! For only $89 per year, you receive three deliveries of three pairs of high-quality, luxury black socks to your door. Now, that’s just under $10 a pair for black socks, which screams expensive. But let’s just consider who the target market is for a product like this. The target market is probably a single male in his twenties who makes $100,000 or more per year. For a single male with that earnings power, $89 is a tiny price to pay to ensure he always has a good pair of socks for work.

And it appears to be a good business. Most notably, “SockRush” entered the business with a name that alludes to the goldrush available in men’s sock and underwear subscriptions.

DropStop – Okay, so check out this deal. For $20 you get two “mini-pillows” to place in between the seats of your car. The “Drop Stop” prevents change, cell phones, other small stuff from falling in between the seats of your car. Sure, you could stuff an old pair of crappy black socks in between your car seats, but this product is convenient and smell-free! Plus, as an added bonus, you get this cool little gripper pad that keeps your cellphone from falling off the dash/console of your car.

Why would you buy it? Because dropping things in between the seats of your car, though a first world problem, is annoying as hell. Also, their infomercial is absolutely hilarious, and you can’t help but to encourage entrepreneurs, let alone hilarious entrepreneurs.

Making Money is So Easy

The biggest upside to American consumerism is the reality that making money is so easy. I mean, how else are you going to build a business out of “sockscriptions” and over-priced “DropStops” if there aren’t people out there to buy your product?

Way back in the day, I realized how easy it was to make money thanks to rampant consumerism. Parents will spend any amount of money on their kids’ sports. I was 11-12 years old and wanted to make some money. So, naturally, I got my soccer refereeing license and went to town on refereeing gigs.

It’s insane how much money I made. It was rare that I would earn less than $20 per hour, and, for travel teams, the pay was $30 an hour or more. What kind of 12 year olds have that kind of earnings power? Not many. In fact, I was probably one of the youngest referees, but there were more than a few 50-60 year old guys who were “retired” but refereed soccer games for extra cash.

Make killer extra money as a soccer referee.

Plus, as an added benefit, they could travel to tournaments all over the place and get their travel expenses, lodging, etc., paid for by the tournament! How awesome is that? You get to go out of town (paid for by someone else), eat and sleep (paid for by someone else), make a few hundred dollars in a day, then have the night to explore a new destination with tons of spending money!

After a couple years I got tired of the whole manual labor thing and, with enough startup cash on hand as a youngin’, started an online media business. Without American consumerism, I’d never have that opportunity. There are people in other places all around the world who would beg for a job that paid well, didn’t require manual labor, and was fairly reliable. People who have been in the labor-force for 30 years in emerging markets don’t even have that kind of opportunity, and here I am at 13 years old living it up like a champ because of awesome American consumerism.

So, in short—I love you for spending your money. I could try to change the world, better everyone’s finances, and get everyone on board with the idea that savings is good, but that’s too flippin’ hard. You can’t sell a product to people who don’t want it.

I’d much prefer enable you to better spend your money as you please, as it’s far more rewarding to the two of us.

Photo by: Chiara Marra, tinosbella

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Centavos December 1, 2011 at 08:11

There are people out there making six figures on scooping pet poop. They go to other people’s yards and clean up dog messes. You’re right, God bless the lazy pet owners who can’t be bothered to get their lazy selves off the couch to do a little manual chore.

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JT McGee December 1, 2011 at 10:43

It’s official – I’m in the wrong business!

You can outsource most anything any more. It never surprises me how many people would pass up a good paying gig that is maybe not all that attractive on the outside. The custodians in the local school district, for example, make as much or more than starting teachers. Minus the time spent in college, sounds like a deal!

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Corey @ Passive Income to Retire December 1, 2011 at 10:08

I agree – The consumeristic society (while I strive to live simply) is what keeps me with a job (for now…) I am finding more and more the opportunities to make money online as well – it’s a love hate relationship. I hate that people go in debt, but i love that I have a job.

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JT McGee December 1, 2011 at 10:47

People don’t want to avoid debt, they want to spend money. It’s pretty hard to sell an idea/concept/product to someone who doesn’t want it. I mean, sure, it irritates me that people spend like crazy, but it’s their money. The warning signs are everywhere about debt. If anything, the danger is exaggerated on the surface. It’s hard to feel bad for people who are disadvantage by choice, especially when there are so many people disadvantage by pure and simple bad luck.

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Aaron Hung December 1, 2011 at 11:46

I’ve heard of milk delivery but…socks delivery? is the world getting lazier and lazier or what? How hard is it to stop by the dollar store and get some socks??

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JT McGee December 2, 2011 at 13:39

If you live in a big metro area where dollar stores are few, taxi rides are $20, and you make $100,000 per year, paying $90 for luxury socks really doesn’t seem like that big of an expense to me. What’s your time worth?

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funancials December 1, 2011 at 12:59

If everyone spent like me, unemployment would be around 90%

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JT McGee December 2, 2011 at 13:39

Ha. Same here.

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Hunter - Financially Consumed December 1, 2011 at 14:36

Mad consumerism is exactly why GDP is a loose indicator. You can move it around all you want, it simply doesn’t add up to more.

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JT McGee December 2, 2011 at 13:40

Bingo! I agree with you 10,000%. The thing is, GDP is okay as a measure of economic activity, but it’s not really all that correlated with an improved standard of living.

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marissa December 2, 2011 at 15:40

I agree. I hate hate hate when people preach how to save money on the stupidest stuff. Yes, there are smarter purchases to make but the convience factor to me is worth the extra few dollars. At the end of the day, its my money and I work hard to earn. Who is anyone to tell me what I “should” with it?

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marissa December 2, 2011 at 15:41

Also, I totally refereed when I was younger too!

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Jeffrey Trull December 2, 2011 at 16:06

That DropStop infomercial might have been one of the best I’ve seen. I’d but it, but I’d rather just wait for the Money Mamba – Drop Stop giveaway.

I agree that making money is easy, but finding fun ways to do it isn’t always as easy (as you pointed out with being a ref). Still, I’m encouraged by the prospects of finding money outside of a job since there are so many different ways to be successful at it with the internet.

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Dr Dean December 2, 2011 at 21:13

Learning that you can’t MAKE people do anything is such an important concept that so many people fail to internalize. The result is a lot of frustration, and failed marriages.

I try to throw out ideas and suggestions and see what sticks.

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