• Zach

Cheapness is a superpower!


The world wants your attention. It craves your eyes, because your eyes are the quickest way to your wallet. Your brain plays a big role in this but advertisers have to be savvy and a bit sneaky. They have to be selective because they only want to access certain parts of your brain, and they want other parts to not be involved at all in regards to their products. They don't want your critical thinking, they want to go straight for the reptilian center of your brain, the parts like the amygdala that operate on fear or lust or hunger. They want to create an immediate impulsive reaction of desire to their product, that overwhelms your more rational pre-frontal cortex and other more evolved structures of your grey matter.

This is why you get the old cliche of "sex sells", but also, fear sells, and pleasure sells, too. When you walk through many neighborhoods in Dubai, you will see cars and the sidewalk littered with bright cards covered in scantily clad women who are just a phone call away for a special "massage". It's difficult to avoid advertisements for alcohol, especially once you're out of the Gulf countries. These usually show similarly scantily clad beautiful people having the time of their lives. The same goes for nightclubs, even here in the UAE. Fast food ads bombard us a thousand times an hour as we drive down SZR, with brightly lit pictures of food that will bring us short term pleasure, just so long as we don't think of the long term health consequences; that is the part of the brain the advertisers don't want us to use, the part that understands what will happen later on!

But what if I told you that you have a superpower. A superpower to build a psychic shield that keeps you from falling prey to these expensive, destructive, alluring products and their multi-billion dirham ad budgets. You do. It's your inner cheapskate. Your frugal friendly angel that can sit on your shoulder defending you from temptation. And like any weapon, you need to practice with it to make it more effective.

First you need a strong "why". Why do you want to save money and your health and your moral code? Do you want to safely retire one day? Do you want to help support family members who are struggling? Do you want to be healthy for decades to come and not end up with rotting internal organs and diabetes?

Once you know your solid why, it's easier to let your cheapness save you from expensive and destructive bad habits. You can use the question of "will this get me closer to my 'why' or farther from it?" give your brain a second to engage the more critical thinking routines and take the decision away from your less evolved and more emotional parts that roar at you to give in, have fun, buy the thing. It's ok to be cheap if that helps you avoid pressure from peers or advertisers that would harm you. It's ok to say, "nope, I can't afford to go out tonight, sorry. Let's do something that doesn't require something harmful."

The more you practice rational decision making around positive long-term values, the easier it gets to do so. The easier it is to buck social pressure and trends. You will start looking for positive replacements for your bad habits, something to fill the time that gets you closer to your "why" and not farther away from it.

Let cheapness be a shield. Bad habits derail our financial and health goals, but if you give into your inner cheapness, it can improve your life significantly.


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