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September 7, 2023
September 7, 2023

A material world

According to research, 80% of us check our phones within 15 minutes of waking up. I sometimes do this in the middle of the night. I’m not even sure why. It’s just that 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep can sometimes feel so boring.

I know this is no good and it’ll eventually fry my brain to pieces.

Of course, there are people who put their phone on airplane mode from 9pm, who or go on holidays where you can’t get a signal.

One day, I will do this.

But I can’t live like the 90s yet. Instead, I’m watching it on TV via The Power of Parker.

You might have seen it. It’s a comedy series about a philandering electrical store owner set in Stockport.

Martin Parker drives a Mercedes, owns a mobile phone the size of a brick, and lives in a detached house with a pillared porch and a landline in the bathroom.

The period detail is so good that it’s almost immersive. The electrical shop that was created as part of the set was apparently so authentic it attracted real shoppers.

Considerably richer than yeuuw

What I love most is the rampant social climbing. “We‘ve had dimmer switches installed throughout,” explains one dinner party host. “Let me show you the vertical blinds.”

For anyone under 35 it’s probably this, rather than the mentions of Rumbelows, that will confuse them the most. It’s inconceivable that anyone would brag about having a conservatory with wicker furniture these days.

But back then, material objects were everything. Buying new stuff was exhilarating. Nowadays, they don’t hold the same cache. Everyone has a hot tub now.

So what do people talk about at dinner parties in 2023?!

Experiences are the thing

Research says that experiences create in-the-moment happiness as well as lasting memories that get stronger over time. Whereas buying stuff is a short-term fix.

Most of us are on board with the notion that material objects aren’t the answer to our wellbeing. We’ve Marie Kondo-ed the house and created a boom in self-storage.

But it feels as if there’s still a big difference between older and younger people when it comes to spending money on experiences.

Millennials are quite happy to invest in their lifestyle rather than things and use this to ‘status signal’ via social media. And yet for the older generation, spending money in this way is still relatively new. It can seem frivolous to spend the same amount on a holiday as on a car that might last 10 years.

The older generation grew up in an era where material objects were markers of happiness. Whereas younger people have had to become comfortable with ‘nownership’.

Herein lies the challenge of the financial planner: to help their clients feel comfortable with spending money, but in a way that makes them truly happy. To support them in leaving traditional notions of 'happiness' behind and uncovering what really lights them up.

This takes time to uncover - and the client might not know the answer themselves until their planner starts speaking to them about it. Then they might find that what they really want to do is see every Grand Slam, paint a masterpiece, or become a life coach.

It’s much more complex than reaching for the Argos catalogue and ordering the latest fax machine. But a much better guarantee of their long-term financial wellbeing.

Shameless plug #1

I’ve recently updated the ‘Work’ page of my website with new projects – take a look at what I’ve been up to.

Shameless plug #2

It’s important to think about what your ideal audience wants from your service, rather than what you think is great about it, as I discuss in this piece in Money Marketing.

Toys are us

Animatronic animals that were originally designed to entertain American children are finding a growing market in British care homes helping people with dementia.

Cheap laughs

“Last year I had a great joke about inflation. But it’s hardly worth it now.” Comedian Amos Gill at the Edinburgh Festival, as quoted in the Guardian..

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