If there is one thing that big corporations would really like to have, it would be mind control.
They would be able to tell all us helpless consumers to buy their products in excess. They would make us spend every last dime we earned on products we by and large wouldn’t need, and they would rake in ridiculous quantities of money.
While that thankfully isn’t possible, I have noticed a similar, and rather scary trend. People often times allow corporations to tell them the best ways to live their lives, sometimes even without knowing it.
I’m talking about all the little ideas and thoughts corporations slyly place in our heads, which prompt us to spend more money than is necessary on virtually everything. Whether it is a subtle but specific product placement, an unnecessary warning label, or advertising that implies the absurd, these little hints are prevalent in every part of consumer society.
But if you are smart, and a little bold, you can easily circumnavigate these costly little nuisances, and beat the corporations at their own game. To illustrate just what I’m talking about, let’s look at a few examples.
Did you know that the amount of laundry detergent recommended by the companies that produce it is more than double the amount required to get clothes clean? That’s right, if you use the recommended amount of laundry detergent, you aren’t getting your clothes any cleaner. If anything, you just make them stiffer and wear them out faster. As detergents have become stronger and washers have become more efficient, the suggested load amount hasn’t budged. While this may not sound like a big deal, think about how much wasted laundry detergent that is. Add up your total expenses on this one product for the year, cut it in half, and that is how much money you are wasting each year. If you have a good sized family, that may be a significant chunk of change.
To see what I’m talking about, read this article on LifeHacker.
Do Not Dilute!
The other day I was prepping a roast that I was going to braise in my slow cooker, and I noticed something odd on the can of beef broth I was about to open. A simple sentence was boldly stamped on the side of the can: DO NOT DILUTE.
I had to chuckle a little to myself when I read that. The warning was more prominent than the safety warnings on bottles of alcohol or medicines. And yet, does it really matter if you dilute beef broth? Sure, you may get a different flavor in your final product if you choose to add water or another liquid to a recipe containing beef broth, but will the world end? Will your safety be compromised? Will the result, god forbid, be a dish that doesn’t taste quite as good as one prepared fully with beef broth? Maybe, but not likely.
I just have to wonder how many people have wasted their money away slowly over the years, using more broth than was totally necessary. And while this example obviously doesn’t show a huge amount of money savings, it does show an important point I’m trying to make: Not all warnings placed by manufacturers on products are actually for your benefit.
Now I’m obviously not saying you should ignore warnings on some products. If you accidentally blow up your house because you didn’t read the safety warnings on a propane tank correctly, that is just pure stupidity on your part, and certainly isn’t what I am telling you to do. What I am saying is that we need to be intelligent and figure out what kind of warnings companies put on their products simply so they can profit off of them more and which ones are legitimate.
Another fantastic (and distinctly annoying) example of this is the software that comes installed on new computers and other electronic devices. Whenever you boot up your fancy new device, you are likely greeted with all kinds of programs telling you that you have “free 30 day access”, or something along those lines. Lot’s of angry ignore clicks and 30 days later, you get a warning saying the software will no longer be available unless you pay up.
This is prevalent in everything from Windows PCs to iPhones. However, it thankfully can be dealt with fairly easily. As soon as you get a new device, simply go through and uninstall every program you don’t need and/or plan to use. Thing is, many times people don’t know what they need. As a general rule of thumb, it is safe to assume that you can delete anything that is a trial version of software. And nine times out of ten, you can delete something that isn’t from the maker of the operating system (if a program on your new Windows computer isn’t from Microsoft, you can probably delete). I recommend doing your research to figure out what are the best programs to get rid of when you get a new device. This will not only prevent you from spending money when the trial editions expire, but also help speed up the device’s system. Check out some of these open source software solutions to save money on the software you do need.
I’ve ranted about this one before. It is an extremely common practice for companies to make absurd claims about their products in their advertisements. While they may not ACTUALLY be claiming that a new car will get you promoted (read the post I linked to above to see what I’m talking about), that subtle claim still will nag at you and influence your decisions.
I’ve seen this especially prevalent with so called “healthy” foods. Advertisements for granola bars and whole grain cereal that show all sorts of models and claim to be health foods are all over television and the internet. Of course, these products won’t magically make you healthy. Not to mention the fact that what are healthy foods is a highly controversial and much debated topic (I would argue nothing that needs advertisements is really a healthy food, but that’s just me).
These type of subtle hints appear all over in the world of advertising. Corporations like to tell you how to live your life, and the most effective way for them to do so is through advertising.
The next time a company is trying to control your mind, whether it be through subtle hinting or blatant scare tactics, remember that they don’t know your life, and that you are smart enough to avoid their schemes!