Last fall, after skillfully transforming my lawn into a carpet of crabgrass, I gave in to my horticultural ineptitude and hired a lawn care service. The company is off to a fine start, but I'll be canceling the service next month.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Like many Americans, my family is prepping for a tight 2009 - and hoping it remains merely tight. This means trimming the non-essentials, the tasks we can do (sort of) ourselves.
A new Washington Post poll shows that two-thirds of Americans are cutting back on their spending, many of them sharply. The shift has prompted a trend so stark, the Post says, that businesses and marketers have put a label on it - Insourcing, or doing yourself what you once paid someone to do.
Insourcing has resulted in a spike in sewing kit sales and garden seeds. Procter & Gamble has noticed more people calling with questions about how to dye their hair at home.
There's an upside to this, perhaps. We may be embarking on a self-sufficiency that improves not only our bank account, but reminds us of the value of doing, not delegating.
Or, maybe not.
"I don't think this trend will last beyond the downturn," says Jim Oakley, an associate professor of marketing and consumer behavior at UNC Charlotte.
Oakley tells The Squeeze that behaviors like insourcing - productive and self-improving as they might feel - aren't deep-rooted. When the conditions that cause behavior change, "consumers will return to natural tendencies," he says.
If all of that makes us sound ... weak, well, we are who are we are. But there's possibility for change.
"If the cause for the adjustment is deep-seated and long lasting, the tendency can become a habit," author and consumer behavior scholar Michael Solomon says. "Witness the lifelong distrust of banks (in retrospect, perhaps, well-justified) by people who spent their formative years in the Great Depression. Major events scar an entire generation and often define its values."
So, essentially, to have a real impact on how we conduct our lives, this recession needs to be truly traumatic.
We'll be pulling for the landscapers.
Tell us if you're saving money by doing something you were paying others to do.
Posted by pstonge at 8:01 AM