Guest Posting: It’s All Bullshit!

It’s the weekend, and that means Mr. Money Mustache has nothing to say right now. But the MMM reader we all know as Mr. Frugal Toque does! Here’s an interesting rant he sent me a few weeks ago, which I thought would be ideal for this weekend’s guest posting:



 It’s All Bullshit!

Subtitle: Tax Software: Only 5 days left of special St. Patrick’s Day savings!

There’s a thing that happens to your brain when you watch television and you absorb Consumer Culture directly from its Unholy Altar. Your mind is invaded, pervaded, often left unsated and your thoughts are superseded by the idea that all of this over-the-top marketing is somehow natural.

I received an email today entitled “Tax Software: Only 5 days left of special St. Patrick’s Day savings!” and something struck me as odd. As North Americans, we’ve seen this sort of eye candy so many times in our lives that we’ve grown desensitized to how stupid it is. As a Mustachian who doesn’t have a TV because he somehow forgot to upgrade to an HD receiver, I’ve re-engaged the non-consumer cogs of my reasoning centres just enough for this ad to make me twitch to its stupidity.

And it is stupid. Let me tell you: it is really, really stupid.

Consider the idea of tax software. In Canada and the United States, there is only one time of year in which it makes sense for the vast majority of citizens to purchase such software. The people who market such software have a problem. How can they sweeten the pot? What ultraviolet patterns can they place upon their flowery emails to attract the instinct driven Bumblebees of Consumption?

“Why, of course,” they say, “Let us attach to our flower a four leaf clover, the brand of the nearest holiday.”

But honestly, is it realistic to believe, as a sensible, thoughtful human being, that the purveyors of this software have not carefully analyzed the market and determined the correct price point for their software? Is there any sincerity in this “special deal”?

Of course not. This is the price they mean to set to make their business case. The “sale” is nothing but a gimmick, a drop of green food dye in an otherwise honest pint of ale.

It’s bullshit. It really is.

It was after I made this realization, with many months of non-television watching behind me, that I recalled all of the other holiday based sales: Thanksgiving; New Year’s; Boxing Day; Easter; Valentine’s Day. The list could go on and on. Why should one day be any different from another? Why should anything ever actually be “on sale”? The only real deals are the things they’re getting rid of because no one else would buy them. Everything else is just a trick to get you to think they’re offering a price that’s significantly better than normal.

They might not even be doing it on purpose. Does a flower “know” what it’s doing when it lays out those ultraviolet patterns? Does it feel pleasure at drawing the bee down into its pool of sweet nectar? Of course not. The flower survives because it’s attractive to the bee and the retailers survive because they lay out the patterns that draw in their own Bumblebees.

Don’t be a drone.

Turn off your television. Not just for a day, or a week, but for months. Don’t watch advertisements. Get yourself off all of those electronic mailing lists. All of these are turning you into a drone.

It will take a while, but as you un-program yourself, you’ll begin to see how stupidly the world is run. You’ll begin to scratch your head when you occasion to run across those ads in your everyday life. Their nectar will no long smell as sweet. Their clever patterns will no longer lure you in. You will no longer be a Bumblebee of Consumption.

You will be free, and every lungful of air you inhale will smell as sweet as anything the Consumption Fanatics ever waved under your nose.


Thanks Mr. Toque, and I hope everyone had a great tax season. I for one am greatly relieved that the calculations are done, the bills are paid, and I can look forward to another year of ‘stashing.

  • TLV April 21, 2012, 9:11 pm

    I think the worst offenders are the craft stores my wife goes to, Jo Ann’s and Michael’s. They send out 50% off coupons every single week – one item only, of course, so if you want more than one thing you have to space it out over several weeks or pay twice what the “real” price is.

    • Llama April 23, 2012, 12:34 pm

      In all fairness, good sir, the “regular” prices at Michael’s and JoAnn are comparable to equivalent items in the Wal*Mart craft department. Wal*Mart does not offer a coupon each week.
      Any given week, about half of a Michael’s or JoAnn is on sale, so if what your wife is looking for isn’t on sale she can go back the following week for it.
      JoAnn typically offers several coupons each week, and you can use as many in a purchase as you want, as long as the codes are different.
      You can get together with my husband and make fun of us ladies for getting crafty, but when we get stuck on a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific you’ll be happy to have someone with you who knows how to fashion a hammock out of some palm fronds!


    • Kimberly V January 23, 2013, 2:36 pm

      If your wife has a smart phone she can download the Michael’s app. Open it to the electronic coupon and have it handy as she stands there and does multiple transactions. I can’t promise it will work in all stores, but at my local store they don’t mind and have done 2 or 3 transactions for me so that I can get more items at the 50% off.

  • RiskyStartup.com April 21, 2012, 10:25 pm

    Indeed, every time my wife gets home with bags full of clothes for our kid and explanation that everything was on sale – I only ask – did everything come off the final clearance (70%+ off) from the rack in the back? If the answer is no, I explain patiently that she only got moderately screwed. Makes you think, if they can sell the $100 pants for $30 on clearance, how much are those pants actually worth?

    • DDD April 21, 2012, 11:10 pm

      Just so it is not all about evil wives, I spent $100 for iPad accessories (iPad was free). Apple does not even bother offering any specials :)

    • Rad January 13, 2020, 11:31 am

      When I was taking business classes a million years ago, one prof said that clothing retailers usually marked up their wares 100%. A $100 spring dress, they paid $50. Pricing would go something like this:

      December: preseason sale when it first cones in – $70 quick return of their money
      January, February – $100 – bulk of sales
      March – $70
      April – $50
      May and beyond – $30

      Note that during the full price time period, it would be prominently displayed out front, in ads and on the bodies of the (female) sales clerks. When they were into April and beyond their inventory is almost gone. They are trying to clear out odd sizes and patterns. I just assume they follow a similar scripted schedule today.

  • T April 22, 2012, 4:03 am

    At around high school end I gave up on TV solely because of all the ads. They were SO stupid and SO moronic every time I was forced to endure one I just felt insulted as they were using such lame tactics and seriously flawed logic that it was like being talked down to by a teacher in one of those slow… “you’re a moron so I’m saying this word by word” type voices.

    Since then our house doesn’t even have an aerial and never will. DW still gets a fair few of those email ads but aside from those we don’t watch TV, don’t listen to any radio (again, solely because of the ads) and only see any ads when over at friends houses.

    When I do see ads now though my brain goes through the exact same thought process as this article. It just tears through whatever fucked up hand wavey BS logic and I have to force myself not to just yell at the TV in anger like my intellect has just been pissed on or something.

    It is so frustrating now that I even get angry when people turn the TV on. Glad to see I’m not the only one who realises how retarded 99% of all ads are :-)

    • A mom April 22, 2012, 8:07 am

      I agree with most of what you say, but please be aware that the use of the “r-word” is hurtful to many people. http://www.r-word.org/

      • Mike from nj April 22, 2012, 7:40 pm

        Ironically the only reason I know about that site and the “stop the r-word” movement is because it was heavily advertised during the show “Glee” on fox. There is a semi-regular character who has Down Syndrome and she was part of the PSA about it. Not all ads are bad.

    • Bakari April 22, 2012, 7:07 pm

      instead of giving up on TV completely, I just got the equilevent of AdBlock for it.
      The Replay TV (got it free in a dump run) is like Tivo, except you don’t need a subscription, and best of all, it automatically skips over all the ads.

      Unfortunately the company that made it went bankrupt after the networks sued them over the ad skipping feature.

      For some strange reason, even though the product is no longer made, and the company is bankrupt, someone is still producing updated channel listings for it, and it still calls home once a week to get the latest.

      • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple April 22, 2012, 8:20 pm

        I know! We bought a Replay years ago, and bought the very last version they made before they had to take out commercial skip. It has broken many times in these 8-10 years or so, but my spouse has always gotten it working again.

        We don’t watch much TV anymore though, so if it dies again, it’s probably done.

      • Travis April 23, 2012, 7:26 am

        When I build a Media Center 3 years ago I loaded a program called Lifextender which automatically removed commercials from my recorded shows. I haven’t had cable for over two years but it looks like it is not being updated anymore. It was a great program and not only saved me lots of time by removing commercials but also lots of space on my hard drive.

        There are other programs out there thought that do this like ComSkip, ComClean, or WTVWatcher.

  • Kathy P. April 22, 2012, 5:12 am

    Yesterday was Earth Day so of course our local media trotted out a special news segment or two to try and cash in. Around here, Earth Day gets minimal attention anyway, and what little there is, is mostly just stupid greenwashing. True to form, this particular segment was about a poll asking consumers if they paid any attention to going green while shopping. We were shown shopping zombies wandering in malls, intercut with shots of heavy equipment working on a mountain of plastic recyclables.

    I don’t remember the particular stats from the poll (though they weren’t very impressive) but the whole thing was based on the marketers’ notion that we can shop our way to sustainability. And so when we, the “consumer unit”, shopping zombies go to the mall to buy their crap, the idea was that we each should “do our part” by paying attention to the packaging and doing a little recycling when we get home.

    Right. That’ll save us all. For sure. Just change your light bulbs too and you can rest easy knowing the planet has been saved.

    Even government falls for this nonsense. Last year, our county solid waste authority tried to jump on the bandwagon by offering small compost bins and rain barrels to the public at supposedly discounted prices – around $60 each if memory serves. A better Earth Day promotion would have been to get a bunch of used $15 food-safe 55 gallon barrels and offer workshops on how to turn them into cheap, attractive rainbarrels to take home and use. But nope. We had to draw down the planet’s resources a little more by shipping in some made-in-China greenwashed crap.

    We also have an organization that’s come to the area in the last couple of years as part of some sort of Cornell University sustainability initiative, supposedly to revive our “rustbelt” city. One of the first things they did was get a $720,000 grant(!) to help pay for 400 free-to-homeowners (metal!) rainbarrels with the idea of alleviating stormwater run off that overwhelms the sewers during major rain events. I can’t believe any organization would be stupid enough to pay the whole $720,000 for 400 rainbarrels, but I have never seen any mention of what the rest of the money might have been used for so who knows? The 400 rainbarrels – which they had trouble even giving away – would barely make a dent in the problem anyway, and with no annual follow-up to increase the number of barrels throughout the city, the whole thing turned into yet another greenwashing flop.

    This same organization just announced they’ve gotten a $48,000 grant to design a “sacred” garden for refugees on a vacant plot of city-owned land. This grant money is for design only; no mention of how implementation would be paid for.

    All of this greenwashing is a variation of the usual consumption mentality on the part of government and the public alike. No one ever steps back to see the stupidity of it all. Save the planet? Of course! What can we buy that will help?

    • Jaclyn April 23, 2012, 7:26 am

      15% of the grant will go to indirect costs. And for every hour the personnel get paid, you have to tack on another 35% for benefits. But still, that is way too much for 400 rain barrels.

  • JaneMD April 22, 2012, 5:44 am

    I think more dangerous to your wallet than TV is getting put on email mailing lists. You get a ‘weekly’ special or semi-special from everyone. Delete all you want, but eventually a sale’s ad line will look so tempting you do breakdown and surf their site to buy something. Studies are showing a big disconnect between people’s brick and mortar store spending and their ‘online’ spending.

    • Mr. Frugal Toque April 22, 2012, 7:41 am

      The email mailing lists are more dangerous because their targeting is much more accurate. If I’ve actually bought something from an electronics warehouse, then their ads will be much more likely to trigger my consumption desires.
      Television ads, on the other hand, jack up the volume, inhibit inter-segment communication among family members and slowly numb my brain to commercialism and consumption in general, making me think that a several-hundred-dollar-a-month allowance for “miscellaneous” is appropriate.
      “Look at all those people and how happy they are to be Buying Stuff. I should Buy Stuff too, so I can be happy like them. Zo-ombie. Zo-ombie.”
      If the email with the electronic gadget comes in on the tail of a blast of those ads, you might think you’re being smart because you’re not buying what the TV told you to buy, but in reality the TV just softened you up.

      • Mr. Money Mustache April 22, 2012, 8:10 am

        True, true – I get Harbor Freight catalogs and find myself inventing needs for new tools regularly, before I slap myself out of it and toss the flyer in the bin.

  • Tom Armstrong April 22, 2012, 6:29 am

    Having largely left television behind something like twenty-five years ago, the sense of surrealism when watching ads gets even stronger. How CAN people be such gatherers that they have to have some of this goofy stuff I see advertised?

    A side note: When I moved out of my mother’s house in the mid-1980s, I didn’t have the cash for a television. I got used to having a radio, the tape player in my car, and a public library for leisure entertainment. For the last twenty years or so, I’ve found that seemingly-popular television shows insult my intelligence (sit-coms). The “news” shows are not much better. There is little of substance in general, and certainly not enough that I should pay by watching the even more intelligence-insulting commercials (yes, that’s how people “pay” for “free” television service, by watching commercials telling them what to buy!).

  • lurker April 22, 2012, 6:50 am

    math question for MMM: I have seen the math on eliminating Starbux and the bigbux this can save over time….how much can eliminating cable tv and tv do for you? I would imagine you can almost retire on this money….and I know you love math problems. thanks.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 22, 2012, 8:09 am

      It depends on your cable cost and investment (or debt payback) returns, but one time I estimated it at nine thousand bucks every ten years: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/05/06/mmm-challenge-cut-your-cash-leaking-umbilical-cord/

      We’ve had a lot of anti-TV content here on MMM recently, so it was nice of Mr. Toque to polish it off with this beauty. The real issue is just the mindlessness rather than the cost. Even without ads, the editing of some of these shows can just crack your brains.

      Case-in-point: my son somehow tricked us into watching an episode of Mythbusters on Netflix last night – on the premise that the dudes are doing “science experiments”. While the mythbusters themselves are great guys, and they do interesting things, the editing of that show is AWFUL!!! They take short snippets of actual content, and spread them out with massive repetition over the course of the whole 45-minute show. All while interleaving three unrelated experiments and a bunch of title screens and jock radio voiceover to make room for the ads. The ads are cut out, of course, since it’s not broadcast, but the overall show is still bad for my poor boy’s little brain.

      Video isn’t an inherently evil medium – if you make something with long, unchopped scenes (just like your eyes see in real life) and it’s about interesting things, it can be valuable. But with the always-streaming-crap nature of broadcast TV, the risk of accidentally ingesting some of those Brain Knives is just too great. If accidentally ONE bad TV commercial, I’m already getting antsy and trying to figure out how to disable the TV system at the (friend’s house/sports bar/hotel lobby, etc).

      • Sourabh April 22, 2012, 9:53 am

        “The real issue is just the mindlessness rather than the cost.”
        This is the real issue I think.

        Contrary to other commenters, I’ve watched and watch a lot of TV. I have to say I’ve never seen an advertisement on TV and bought something. Rather, of all the things I’ve bought, having watched something on TV has never ever been a factor (excluding of course the “Brainwashed” kind of insidious-ness).

        The mindlessness is way more of a problem, consuming that will turn you into a mindless individual – and not in a consumer sort of way, but just in someone who lacks the ability to think.

      • Kathy P. April 22, 2012, 11:31 am

        I have the most bare-bones cable that Time-Warner offers, for $18/month. I do find some redeeming value on PBS and CKWS, the Canadian channel out of Kingston, Ontario. Otherwise, it’s pretty much a wasteland but those two stations have enough good stuff that I hesitate to cancel cable completely.

        Most of what’s on the other stations – especially the so-called reality shows – makes me think we’re in stuck in some Orwellian dystopic twilight zone and the mindless drivel on television is one way the authorities have found to anesthetize the masses so they don’t rise up against the plutocracy.

        • Bakari April 22, 2012, 7:17 pm

          I don’t know about Canadian TV, but you don’t need cable for PBS.

          In fact, PBS was one of the earliest adopters of HiDef over broadcast radiowaves, and they have the most legitimate sub-channels on the new digital broadcast system, with entirely separate content on the sub-channels
          (the networks mostly use their subchannels for weather or to rent out to foreign language or infomercial channels)

          All you need is a decent antenna and a $20 digital converter box (or a TV bought in the last 5 years)

          • Jimbo April 22, 2012, 8:36 pm

            canadian tv is over the air as well now…. Unless it`s canadian cable tv…

          • Kathy P. April 23, 2012, 5:21 am

            I apparently live in a weak signal area, so in order to do this I’d need a big honkin’ antenna mounted on my roof with an amplifier. This would only get me five channels, no PBS and no Canada. :-(

          • Huck April 24, 2012, 8:58 pm

            You can build your own HDTV antenna from scraps in your garage/shed/basement…http://www.tvantennaplans.com/. Works great for UHF stations. A very simple folded dipole made from a coat hanger can be added to pick up VHF stations http://www.diytvantennas.com/dipole.html. You’ll need a couple of Baluns for $1.75 and a UHF/VHF combiner for about the same. Fun project to do with your kids too!

  • Joy April 22, 2012, 10:06 am

    Enjoying the topic today.

    I gave up TV over 12 years ago.

    I don’t listen to radio either. I keep up with the headlines on my homepage.

    My parents allowed very limited TV viewing and, almost zero radio.

    While I do enjoy music, I don’t listen to it very often. I too, like to control what goes into my mind.

    Reading blogs that further my knowledge, is my favorite entertainment.
    That, and reading non-fiction books.

    I do get e-mail adds. MMM’s advice about keeping the available money low,
    will keep this from being much of an issue. I invested all of our savings but,
    a thousand dollars. That is there in case I need to take a quick trip to my
    parents for an emergency. All other extra income is whisked away to various
    investments. So, I now feel broke. This is a new experience and, kind of
    uncomfortable for my husband and I. :) We’ll adjust.

    We will be taking out a line of credit on the house sometime next week. Just
    in case of a big emergency.

    Credit cards will continue to be paid in full too, so there isn’t any available money to buy much more than our needs. :)

  • AEBinNC April 22, 2012, 10:26 am

    I don’t have cable TV, but I do have Netflix and watch some shows on Hulu. A few weeks back I went on a Goldrush binge. For anyone unfamiliar, it’s a reality TV show that is essentially the same thing as Deadliest Catch. A group of dudes go to Alaska, make a bunch of stupid decisions, shoot innocent bears, dig a massive hold, spend $500,000 to find $20,000 worth of gold, break a bunch of tools and generally act like a pack of dangerous idiots. For the life of me I don’t know what trance I was in, but I watched the entire first season. While I was watching, my wife pointed out how stupid the show is and how reckless they were being. I agreed yet I still watched the remainder of that season.

    In part it speaks to my weakness, I knew I was doing something dumb but did it anyway. I need to continue my focus on building up will power. It also shows how powerful the medium is, most people in this country get sucked in to television and never question how morally bankrupt the programing is. It’s a complete waste of life. It’s just sad that so many people spend their lives in front of the box.

  • ice April 22, 2012, 12:03 pm

    What do you guys think of TV as a medium for language learning? I think in that case it could be valuable as it builds a skill and you are wracking your brain while watching in order to understand something. But perhaps movies are better?

    • Mr. Frugal Toque April 22, 2012, 6:28 pm

      It’s possible, even likely, that advertisements in languages other than your own would have a lesser affect on your brain. If your first language is English, you might have another advantage: marketing in languages other than English probably doesn’t have a trillion-dollar, super-well-studied machine behind it that makes ours ads the dangerous, mind-altering things that they are(I’m not saying it’s good for you, just less bad).
      My grandmother learned English from watching soap operas in the 50s, so I can see the value in those cases, but I have no idea how it compares to other ways of picking up languages.

      • Jen April 24, 2012, 3:08 am

        True, TV may aid in learning languages. I myself arrived as a student to the US with minimal English skills and picked it up very fast – mostly by watching TV (which I bought immediately, as cable was included in my rental). The first few months I had few friends, thus more time for TV – which paid off in a sense.
        My colleague learned quite decent Mandarin Chinese by watching Chinese soap operas. The skill is really enviable, but what a torturous process of acquiring it :)

        • ice April 24, 2012, 9:58 am

          Cool! Thanks for sharing.

  • Dancedancekj April 22, 2012, 2:30 pm

    I think so long as your are mindful with TV viewing, then it doesn’t have quite the same effect. I watch a lot of my stuff on Hulu that does have small advertisements, but I know I’m not going to buy anything if it does not fit into my Mustachian philosophy, no matter how sexy and fun and satisfied the individuals look in the commercial.

    I think that cutting yourself off from TV isn’t necessarily warranted. It feels a bit like censoring to me – kind of like declaring that since printed advertisements are evil and advocate for consumerism, that one should never read any text ever again. I find that certain shows do enrich my life, especially the ones that make me laugh.

    • Mr. Frugal Toque April 22, 2012, 6:39 pm

      I guess I should clarify that I haven’t turned the Toque Household into some kind of Shao Lin hermitage. The kids watch PBS stuff over the internet. We have a few shows we catch in a non-advertising format, including any Big Bang Theory I can get my hands on.
      This takes up perhaps three hours a week for us.
      But even when you don’t fall for the marketing gimmick, when you watch ads you’re allowing your mind to be bombarded with nonsense. Eventually, your brain is just saturated with it and you start believing that a St. Patrick’s Day Sale on tax software is a reasonable and appropriate event. Even though I can’t think of a way such a belief is directly harmful, stupid beliefs have a way of attracting each other. That’s why I want to keep them out of my head.

  • abitha April 22, 2012, 6:20 pm

    I was thinking a bit about advertising the other day… specifically, that I think I am nowadays exposed to far less advertising than most people. I have an ad-blocker on my internet browser, and always find it a bit bizarre if I check my favourite sites on someone else’s computer – what is all this rubbish down the side of the page all of a sudden?? I watch only a couple of hours of TV per week, and if it is on a channel with ads I usually mute it during ad breaks. If listening to the radio I’ll often switch channel if there are ads. I rarely read magazines except if someone leaves one in the staff room at work. All in all I see very few advertisements, and I think that tends to heighten the annoyance factor when I do run across one, as I am no longer desensitised to their stupidity and patronising-ness!

    I tried to work out the other day when the last time was that I bought something that I had seen advertised, or bought something in a shop that advertises (regardless of whether seeing the advert had actually influenced my decision to buy it). Apart from the fact that I shop fairly regularly in a supermarket (which like most UK supermarkets, advertises quite heavily on TV), I struggled to remember. Will go through my card statements sometime and try to work it out.

  • Fred Ross April 22, 2012, 6:39 pm

    Congratulations on reaching the anger stage of your TV detox. After a while you’ll get to contempt. Years in, you will finish detoxing and reach indifference. People discussing shows they follow will roll off of you like people discussing the latest Dan Brown novel. Somewhere in there, being “well informed” (that is: knowing what so-and-so said about such-and-such yesterday) vanishes as well.

    My current frontier is accepting that fact that there is most truly superb material than I could get through in a lifetime, so there’s no reason for me to settle for anything less. I don’t mean just the “great classics” (though much of that list can be jettisoned without a second thought), but also light reading. Good light reading, something that is refreshing to your mind and doesn’t leave a bad aftertaste, is precious.

  • Bakari April 22, 2012, 7:03 pm

    “They might not even be doing it on purpose”

    Oh, they’re doing it on purpose alright!
    The last full time employer I used to have used to mark certain products up one or two months in advance, just so that they could later mark it back to its ORIGINAL PRICE, but call it a “sale”!!!!

    The best, though, are the late night infomercials: All this, plus the special blending wand, plastic curlers, and foaming cream, A $300 VALUE, for only $9.99.
    But wait! Act now, and get a second set absolutely free (plus additional shipping and handling)

    $300 value? What does that even mean? They apparently just randomly pull the highest number they think is remotely believable out of… the air, and claim that is the “value”. Never mind that the product isn’t being sold at that price anywhere. But somehow, to the people who actually fall for that, they are getting a “deal” of $290 off the (completely imaginary) original price.
    Obviously its actual “value” is $9.99, because that’s as much as they can sell it for, i.e. the most anyone is willing to pay for it.

    But that same tactic is used in less extreme cases all the time, and nearly everyone (myself included) falls for it. It is hard to objectively put a dollar value on anything, so in looking for the best price, we need someway to establish a baseline. The easiest way to do that is to let the seller tell us what the price used to be or what the MSRP is. If the selling price is less than that, it most be a “deal”, right?

    So, just remember: ignore the word “sale”, and ignore what % off something is. All you need to know is how much an item is actually worth TO YOU. If the “sale” price is still higher than that number, you are not really getting a good deal at all.

  • Nurse Frugal April 22, 2012, 11:56 pm

    What a great guest post! It’s so true how much more aware one can become when one is not watching TV. About 6 months ago my husband and I decided to do away with cable because we would save a lot of money and because we didn’t really use it. It’s so interesting to see that our consumption of television went from maybe 20% of our free time to maybe 0.1%! I don’t even have a desire to watch TV now, and I haven’t watched a TV show in over 5 months. It feels great! It’s so easy to become more critical of commercials, advertisements, etc. when you have been disconnected for awhile. The things people will do or say to sell you something are so RIDICULOUS!!! It’s almost as if they are saying “act now and we will throw in a free white t-shirt.” Really?!?! The crazy thing is that people fall for this ALL THE TIME!!! I will never forget when I went to an outlet store up north, I could actually see the previous price underneath the current sticker price, and it was actually LOWER then the current price. This outlet store actually marked up the product and called it a SALE…..come on!

    • IAmNotABartender March 24, 2015, 9:21 pm

      My wife worked at Target for a while, and she saw DVDs normally sold for $10 go on a holiday sale around Christmas one year for $13. A great deal!

  • Oelsen April 23, 2012, 6:22 am

    Or, you just work in the electronics retail business and notice how it works from the inside.

    You never look at offers the same way again.

    How they talk about lowering prices Mondays if there is a leftover laptop. How they talk about mounting blinking stuff on a netbook to force sales. How they talk about this particular item that went like nothing else (five times faster) over the counter after they surrounded it with speakers playing music. How they deliberately do not reorder the advertised models and buy the cheaper in bulk but same price at retail item instead.

    It is bullcrap indeed.

    • eva April 23, 2012, 10:31 am

      “Or, you just work in the electronics retail business and notice how it works from the inside. You never look at offers the same way again.”

      THIS. I worked in a book-pushing business and suddenly found my desire for physical books dissipating, now I use the library all the time. Same with the pastries–I actually ate healthier after realizing what’s in all that fast food.

      Sadly, I am not sure it has that effect on everyone in those industries. I’ve seen people in retail who use their employee discount to furnish their entire houses with clutter from their workplace.

  • sideways8 April 23, 2012, 8:14 am

    When I moved into my own house, I didn’t get cable right away because I just wasn’t around very much. Then I didn’t get cable because I didn’t want to fork over the cash. Now when I watch cable at someone else’s place, I’m just about ready to tear my hair out because they play ten hours of stupid commercials every five freakin minutes. It is incredibly distracting.

  • Llama April 23, 2012, 12:43 pm

    The gas stations are worse than the TV. Shell has TVs at every pump that come on as soon as you start the pump going. A stupid guy is on the monitor that knocks on the glass, so it startles you into looking up and then you have to listen to recipes, ads, and other horseshit. I know they’re trying to trick me into putting in a full tank.
    Why can’t they do something useful with this drivel, like remind people to check tire inflation and oil levels?
    Grocery stores are just as bad. Some stores have TVs at the checkout line, some have them stationed over the meat and produce departments trying to get you excited about recipes and brands.
    The malls have TVs and music all over the place pumping your face with “buy buy buy” beats. There’s a shopping center near me that even pumps music out into the goddamned parking lot!

    You can’t escape it. It’s mind-melting.

  • Stephen April 24, 2012, 8:30 am

    My problem is mindless web surfing.

  • Mark April 27, 2012, 5:49 pm

    i like TV. i like movies.

    i spend very little. i know the stuff is stupid. i stopped thinking about how stupid commercials are once someone really smart told me that the message doesn’t have to make sense, it is just trying to get you to buy something. and that made me stop even thinking about how stupid the messages are and actually have some peace over them. there is also something really sad about going too extreme. case in point: i am vegetarian. when i tried to be vegan, all of a sudden EVERYTHING around me was against me. a trip to the dairy queen with family was all of a sudden a war zone. i don’t want to be so extremely at odd with everyone else.

    vegetarian is what i settled on. i know that change is hard at first until more people get on the band wagon. but i like my tv shows. simple living to me is about embracing what you do like and getting rid of all the stuff you do not. spend a million dollars on your guilty pleasure and spend nothing on everything else (so you can afford your pleasure).

    tv is a pleasure of mine, sorry, but it is. movies are also.

    i do understand that tv shows themselves are also a form of advertising (all those big expensive houses and most of the time, an embracement of the dominant mainstream culture). but hey, i don’t like a world where i am not a part of it any more than i like a world in which i am totally consumed in it.

    i love mmm

  • Derek P. April 29, 2012, 7:15 pm

    This post reminds me why I have never had cable, never got into watching TV (minus the very rare nature or documentary while at the parents house dog babysitting) and generally only surf the internet in relatively safe, ad free environments.

    It makes me really sad how much money my family who are all horribly addicted to watching the TV (I estimate about 5 hours a day average). They are all in poor health, low motivation in their careers and spend way too much stuff on useless consumer goods.

    Today I spent about 6 hours riding around my bicycle in the city vs my sister/BF who spent 6 hours watching TV on a very beautiful spring day :(

  • Rick March 25, 2015, 6:48 am

    I pay a small fortune for Satellite, because I live in the Boonedocks and cable is not available. I get around 300 Chanel’s, most of which are duplicates, triplicates, quints etc. Most of the time there is nothing worth watching. I now watch a few minutes of the weather Network in the morning; but this is becoming tedious, because the commercials are 10X louder than the weather info! Then, I watchable few minutes of BNN; but that is becoming tedious too. Too many commercials; and after a few minutes I just turn the damn thing off. I seem t spend more time on my tablet to be informed than anything else.

    With regards to the price of things…IT IS ALL A SCAM. I was in retail in a past life as an Optician. You are being ripped off; heres why. A pair of single vision glasses (frame and lenses); cost the independent store I worked for, about $2.50! We would sell the product for any where between $99.00 and $129.00. So, when you think of how much you get paid per hour, and the TRUE cost of an item. How much per hour are you really working for? I’ve been studying this for a number of years. I retired long ago at 38. Working any longer than ABSOLUTELY necessary is just a waste of your time. You deserve better.

  • Tory May 30, 2016, 6:08 pm

    Not just the ads are an insult! I stopped reading the newspaper, watching TV, and listening to the radio in 1980 (Reagan was elected). I stopped buying music (too sexist, bad pricing scheme back then on LPs). Few movies (too few female leads, boring, tired narratives). I will now watch a prime video on computer or listen to BBC on cell phone to be pacified or put to sleep as there is now much more intelligent (and worse) stuff in the media. I have not missed the ads, political distortion, or, for that matter, any important news. I recommend it.

  • Maya Anderson December 9, 2016, 8:47 pm

    I just wanted to add to this post that before I became mustachian I did a mustachian thing to my entertainment cosumption: added the ad-free to my Hulu account. For $4 a month, I am no longer haunted by new movies or new toys. I don’t even know the new TV shows coming out that I should add to my entertainment list, new gadgets that I need to get those new shows, or new accounts I should add to have them. While this is an extra expense, it has exponentially added to my enjoyment of movies and TV I already liked and prevented me from adding more subscriptions to my account. I used to be an HBO addict–turned out I wasn’t looking to what already existed (added to by my boyfriends love of 80s action flicks). $4 a month in being ad free has helped me be free of my TV “want”.

    subscript: all my TV comes from hulu and netflix which both provide all I could ever need for less than $25/month

    • Ray in Dublin May 24, 2017, 6:35 am

      I would have thought that the shows themselves are ads. James Bond would be a good example. He’s cool, everything he owns is cool. The Astin Martin, the watch, the suit all leads to the girl on his arm. “I need to have that stuff to have his success!”
      Miami Vice was all about the suits and the lifestyles. Even if it’s a more working class show then it’s presenting a lifestyle filled with objects of desire. I want a gun like that one, a swimming pool, a pent house apartment. The bigger the success of the character in the story the more crap he owns. A far cry from “The millionaire next door” (book)

      You won’t find many shows that successfully sell the Mustachian lifestyle to a broad audience.



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