Lending Club Blog

Paying for Solutions to Nonexistent Problems

One of the main reasons we spend money is to solve problems that we face. Even needs can be characterized in this way. The problem of being hungry can be solved by purchasing food. Trouble arises when we are persuaded to purchase solutions to problems that do not exist in our lives.

The example that always makes me laugh is the tissue commercial that describes how purchasing low quality tissues will leave you sneezing right through them, creating an undesirable and unsanitary mess. While I certainly wouldn’t want to have that situation occur, I have never had such an experience, regardless of the type of tissue I used. While the premium price of name brand tissues might be worth it to prevent the problem from occurring, since it isn’t a real problem for me, the premium is not worth it.

Many products are advertised in this way. The ads show how using a particular product will allow you to avoid an unpleasant situation. Before spending money on such a product, you should ask yourself if you are currently experiencing the problem. A recent episode of Saturday Night Live parodied this situation with a clip about a product for opening jars. The problem presented wasn’t just having a jar that was tough to open, but that in the process of opening a tough jar you might inadvertently kill a person and then have to deal with disposing of the body, avoiding capture, going to prison, etc. The product was advertised as a way to avoid all of those secondary, however unlikely, effects of the true problem at hand. While that example is clearly an extreme exaggeration, it does make a similar point.

You need to be careful not to pay extra for solutions to nonexistent problems. While advertisements may prey on your fear of undesirable events occurring, unless those events are likely to be experienced, paying for a solution is a waste of money.

Have advertisements persuaded you to buy solutions to problems you didn’t actually have?

Thursday, December 25th, 2008 at 5:42 am

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