The more layers retailers and service providers can put between purchase and outlay of money, the easier it is for people to buy. Thus, there seems to be an intentional strategy today to put consumers at least one step removed from actually paying for anything directly.
- Buying online seems like typing in some numbers more than it feels like taking cash out of your wallet – and buying through an app that stores your information is even easier to do
- Choosing a book with an Audible credit from your subscription happens much more quickly than if you had to consciously pay $15 for that same listen
- Skipping a college class doesn’t feel like throwing away money because it was all billed as the semester’s tuition but those same students would never waste the equivalent amount of their cash
- Purchasing a car wash coupon book makes it more likely that you will wash your car when you can just use a coupon instead of hesitating before you pay $15
- Having insurance removes some of the pain of how much medical care truly costs and numbs the realization of how onerous the burden is for those paying directly
- Subscribing to a movie pass or a gym membership makes it seem like participating is free even though it isn’t
- Utilizing a gift card, purchasing card from a rebate, or income tax refund feels like you have bonus money even though you paid for it in another form
Retailers intentionally craft ways to remove every decision point and barrier to making purchasing as easy as possible. Therefore, it pays to apply equal diligence to counteract their subterfuge and be conscious of all the money you spend – no matter in which manner you spend it. A dollar is a dollar – whether through the airwaves, over months, or out of your wallet. Don’t let the ease of spending subdue you into doing too much of it.
Originally published in modified form on August 7, 2019