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Op-Ed: Kitchen Renovations Show Greed not Need Causes Money Crunch

By Carol Forsloff     Aug 21, 2009 in Lifestyle
Recently a friend introduced my husband and me to the Home Improvement Channel. My husband likes it for the fun of renovation. I think it gives the wrong message of greed not need when people should be cautious financially yet beneficent to others.
The host on the Home Improvement Network announces, “We can save a family money on their kitchen renovation. They only have $40,000 to spend, so we will have to be thrifty in our choices. “ After making this initial declaration, he goes on to say there was nothing really wrong with the kitchen about to be renovated; it was just dated. What’s the message? In the modern world being dated is really not a good thing, so it’s important to spend money to make things modern, even if it costs $40,000 for a simple kitchen. It further says $40,000 is a small amount of money to spend, not to repair or fix, but to make sure one keeps up with the trends.
These days commercials from merchant groups like Direct Buy who sell home renovation materials and furniture give much the same message as the Home Improvement Channel. That message is that when something is out of style it needs to be replaced, even though it’s functional as it is. The smiling couple shown in the advertising tells us their kitchen cabinets didn’t cost them the $65,000 estimated, but only $35,000, saving them all kinds of money even though the cabinets replaced looked fine and served the purpose of storage and function.
Not only are home renovations done when outdated, cars are turned in after a few years, even though they may run perfectly well and get reasonable mileage. Why drive last year’s car when this year’s model looks so good? One needs to have the new look in the newest model, the messages seem to tell us. And we are led to buy because outdated means it’s time to discard what we have even if it works well as it is.
What’s the overall message about money management we didn’t get from the financial fiascoes still present? Spending got out of control, and folks thought more was better just because it was more. That meant getting rid of outdated and going with trends, leading to bankruptcies and foreclosures everywhere.
Despite all the hoopla and heartache resulting from economic woes, the buzz word outdated used for improving, buying or changing continues and the value of thrift remains unappreciated because outdated means abandoning what still might work quite well to get what looks good.
While millions of people are homeless, hungry and in need of jobs these days, how is it we have messages that tell us “greed is good” to sell products and services we don't need when there are obvious problems economically from telling us outdated is wrong? In a throwaway culture, this behavior has led to big financial woes. It means the right lessons weren't learned so they might be given again in a much harder way next time.
In the meantime, that kitchen in Portland? I'm planning everything that works will stay.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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