Money Magazine prides itself on providing consumers with general-interest investment information and the latest trends on spending, saving and the economy. It likes lists, including two recent tallies of Americans’ increasing and decreasing buying habits.
The list of items Americans are spending more money on ranges from the easy-to-decipher to the bizarre. The reasons given for the suddenly changing buying habits may be accurate. Yet in some instances, the reasons are hard to understand.
Americans are buying more via streaming services, for example. One reason given, according the publication's editors, is the decision of performer Kanye West to distribute his latest recording only via streaming.
It's difficult to determine why anyone would listen to West's music via any method. I'd rather believe streaming service sales have increased because of the quality of programming available. Two examples readily come to mind: The New Yorker magazine now has a weekly podcast via Netfix. It's complete entertainment and with a refreshing new approach. It put faces to the names of the publication's popular writers.
Another favorite is The Man in the High Castle. It's had one season (10 episodes) on Amazon Prime, and it's brilliant. It's an alternate look at history if the Allies had lost WWII and Japan and Germany took over the United States. It's smart television, without canned laugh tracks and hideous commercials.
Here's the list of 12 items Americans are suddenly buying in greater quantities, the given reason and, in some cases, a different "real reason."
1. Bowls. Given reason: The content of bowls are easier for Instagram and other social media users to take images with smartphones. Real reasons: Bowls make food more comforting and taste better. Spillage less likely.
2. Adult diapers. Both reasons are the same: Baby boomers are older and living longer. Incontinence is no one's friend.
3. Legal marijuana. Given reason: Health concerns, like chronic pain and stress. It's all understood. Real reason: No one's fooling anyone, here.
4. Guns. Given reasons: Self-defense as a result of increased violence, particularly mass shootings, and concerns of pending legislation making the purchasing guns more difficult. Real reasons: paranoia, ego, national testosterone deficiencies.
5. Merchandise bought in Canada. Given reason: The conversion make sense of cents. It's $1 U.S. to $1.35 in Canada. One warning: Watch out for those online medication purchases. Is there maple syrup mixed in?
6. Fast food hot dogs. Given reason: Hot dogs are now staples on more chain fast food joints. Real reason: Beyond the question: Is there another kind of hot dog?, this one infringes on sacred ground. Never talk to me about the contents of hot dogs. When I want one with sauerkraut, relish, onions mustard and ketchup I've having one . . . without guilt.
7. Car Leases. Given reason: Lower interest rates, no ownership commitments. Real reason: More millennials want to impress friends they don’t know.
8. E-cigarettes. Given reason: It’s a new way to confront a tobacco addiction. Real reason: It’s a gimmick, a desperate way to exchange one vice for another.
9. Michelob Ultra. Given reason: It’s a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate alternative to beer. Real reason: There’s no reason any beer drinker should ever consider drinking this swill and uttering the word beer before, during or after. If you want to drink a beer, drink a real beer.
10. Mobile devices. Reason given: E-commerce shopping is easier. Buying a cup of coffee is easier. No argument. Real reason: When was the last time you saw someone under age 40 reading a newspaper?
11. High-deductible health insurance. Reason given: Out-of-pocket health cost increases. Real reason: Less preventative care equals more obesity.