Saturday, March 20, 2010

as long as it's free for me?

i've been on the simplesavings mailing list for some time, which mails out a (savings) hint of the week. while i generally skim over most of the suggestions,  a recent one caught my attention because it highlights the truism that nothing's ever really free - it always comes at somebody's expense. sometimes that expense is something we're willing to accept eg. a store/company giving away free samples of their products. sometimes that expense is something we don't (care to) recognise as costing somebody something, eg. winning a lottery, whereby the only way somebody can gain is by other entrants losing. and so similarly for one anonymous person's view on hosting party plans:

It's a sad fact that I've been making my friends spend money, all for my personal gain. For years I invited my friends and family to my party plan nights. There were always great incentives - free products, special hostess gifts and discounts - the rewards were wonderful. It took a while for me to realise though, that my rewards were costing my friends and family money. Essentially, I brought them to my home with the very aim of spending money. Most likely it was on products they didn't need or hadn't thought about before, yet they left sometimes spending hundreds of dollars. Some only bought one low-cost item, probably more out of courtesy, not because they truly needed it.

When I thought about it, it's the same as taking my friends into one shop and expecting them to buy as much stuff as possible there, regardless of whether they needed it or not. How could I do that to my friends and family?

I have changed my ways now and don't host party plan nights any more. If I need something, I shop around for the cheapest price. I'm spending only what I have to (not more because I was offered incentives), I have more money left in my bank and best of all, my friends aren't forced into spending money on things they don't want.
i'm not trying to suggest that party plan or similar things are intrinsically bad, but the motivation that drives one to host such parties is certainly something worth careful thought.

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