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Friday, January 4, 2008

Justify Stuff We Buy

I bought some stuff this week, probably some stuff I really didn't need, but knowing is the first step. I ordered 2 books from Amazon, but those were paid for from profits made selling books, so those fit within my rules. Got 2 X-Box games off Microsoft's retail training site, but those were at a 84% discount off retail, and can be later traded for new games, so that's kind of okay. Also, bought some home supplies at Target, but those were on a gift card from Christmas, so none of my money changed hands. I bought an camera mount for my Point & Shoot that will make it much easier to shoot panoramic images. This purchase was justified by my continuing goals of becoming a better amateur photographer, so it kind of fits.

This brings me to one of the first habits I need to change: How easy it is to justify all the unneeded stuff I purchase.

I'm a sucker for discounts, sales, and clearance merchandise. Last week, while in Wal-Mart for a reason I cannot recall, I noticed a clearance tag on this: Ultimate Bumblebee from the Transformers movie line. The original price tag was $79.99, and not once did I consider buying this large hunk of plastic, because it didn't look very good, and did not look fun. Now, with a clearance tag of $39.98, I wanted one. No, I needed one. Luckily none were in stock, and I have not been back once to check.

Each time I see something on clearance / sale, I need to stop and think, would I have bought this at full price? If not, then there should be no reason to buy it for less money.

Same goes with coupons. Borders sends weekly coupons to my GMail account, because I am a member of their Borders Rewards club, in which I get a slight refund, which can be spent in Borders stores. Coupons come in, offering me 30% off any book or CD in stores, tempting me back in the stores.

Problem: There are no books I 'need'. I'm sure I could browse around, find an impulse book, buy it, and then put it in the 'to read' stack. Not going to do this time, even if it means loosing out on the five bucks.

Next time: How Amazon helps me buy less books!

January 4, 2008 - Main Street USA

IMG_0658.JPG, originally uploaded by Jeremy ES.

" "I caught sight of a man far down the street. Alone. Quietly regarding the place he so long envisaged, now complete, ready to bring pleasure and happy satisfaction to the millions who will visit it. And I was reminded that he, too, was a Main Streeter, never weened sway from the common bond with the great majority of American small town and country folk, their tastes and ideals, despite long identification with big cities as an eminent world figure." -Jack Jungmeyer: The Disneyland News, July 1955 " -Page 18, Walt Disney Imagineers.

(This is from me, not a book)

I never met Walt, but walking in Disneyland, I feel like I know him. I've been to 'amusement' parks all across this great land, and nothing has come close to the feelings a Disney Park brings. Hershey Park is nothing but rides dropped on a concrete slab, haphazardly laid out, with food and cheap carnival games between them.

Knowing that the Imagineers set up Liberty Square so that in the 1700's section, you cannot easily see the Mark Twain, because steam engines did not exist in that time, is one of the million points of detail that makes the Parks better, more magical. And it is a detail I wouldn't have noticed, and many will never notice.

That is what Walt inspired, this drive to go well beyond something that you spend a day at and never return. Walt inspired his people to make this destinations that, in turn, inspire people to write, record radio shows, edit together massive amounts of home movies, all so others can experience a little part of the Disney magic. And those who spend hours, days, entire chapters of their lives, who do so for little or no compensation, are true off-shoots from Walt's dreams. A thank you to all.