I. Gender Marketing says. . .
Men identify deeply with their jobs. They're hardwired for task orientation. When they lose their jobs, they tend to lose their identity.
"Women are . . . worried about their jobs, but not to the extent that they feel their . . .existence is being threatened, and so they are in the mood to buy despite the crisis," gender marketing expert Diana Jaffe told Reuters recently.
So, do we conclude that men face the current economic slump by questioning their identity and cutting back on spending, and women make themselves feel better by shopping for pricey leather handbags?
II. Why do we buy?
Maybe watching "Madmen" has hurled us back in time and made us behave as though we were living in far less liberated 1960's. Maybe we are taking the ostrich approach to managing our money, and, like Nero, are fiddling while Rome burns. Maybe, in this particular case, we should behave more like men - but for very different reasons.
We need not define ourselves by the way we earn a living in order to face our current economic situation. We can continue to be well-rounded human beings who know that our net worth and our self worth are very different. But in order to pursue the things that bring us happiness, we'd best ensure we have a roof over our head and food on our table in our old age before we buy "pricey leather handbags."
Yet, the fashion industry send us messages - four times a year, via preposterously thin teen-age girls - that we "need" what they offer. Do we? Does spending money on handbags and shoes really make us feel good enough to forego providing for our long term needs?
III. Put Yourself First
If you have put aside enough for yourself to live comfortably for the rest of your life and you need a handbag, by all means buy one, as long as you have the money. But if you have not provided for your long term security, exactly what do you accomplish by buying something that you truly cannot afford?
The appearance of wealth is nothing. It is for someone else. It speaks to others - not you.
IV. You Say
Times are difficult. Current times are more difficult than the grueling recession that took place in the 1970's, when I began working in finance. It was a time when wealth was lost in a grinding market correction that took place over years and cut portfolios in half. Inflation was out of control and job losses made the national mood grim. It was also the time when Warren Buffett invested heavily in the stock market and earned wealth that is measured only slightly less than that of Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
It is your right to buy whatever you want, whenever you want. You can be tempted by the fashion industry to buy gladiator shoes, designer bags or whatever it is - as long as it speaks to your authentic self.
You can also decide to put that money aside in investments that will outperform the ravages of inflation, like stocks and real estate, which will provide for you for the rest of your life.
One in four of us will live to age 95. Elderly and destitute with a pricey handbag in my closet, is not the choice I make for myself. I invite you to join me in defying gender marketing research, and investing your time and resources in investing in your future.