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Is it Entertainment or Advice?

It is always interesting to read those ever present articles about how one may address their spending with an eye on reducing that spending so as to either save money or pay down debt. A common thread of these articles is the lifestyle of the supposed audience. One constant example is the suggestion that a person cut out, or at least down, on their daily consumption of expensive coffee-like beverages from merchants such as Starbucks. A similar habit is that exemplified by those who, as the saying goes, can’t drive past a 7-11 or other convenience store without stopping in for a snack. Obviously, if one does not engage in these behaviors often (or at all), it will result in less spending on that habit and perhaps even better health.
 
However, although the above may be good advice for a person who does indulge in this fashion, the advice has no meaning and provides no help for one who does not have this or a similar failing. What is missing in these articles is a broad appeal to people that will resonate with them. Examples are helpful but only if the reader engages in the described behavior or is close to another who does so. It is like reading the Mansion section in the Wall Street Journal: the stories are interesting in various ways but have no relation to our lives and so are more akin to fiction to the extent that they affect our choices and daily lives.
 
If these writers want to make a real difference for their readers, instead of trying to entertain them, then the advice should be much different. Advice should focus on encouraging readers to understand the difference between want and need or luxury and necessities. It should suggest combining errands into a single trip rather than constant coming and going while at the same time reducing unnecessary trips made out of laziness or boredom. Perhaps readers could take care of chores and projects they can handle rather than hiring them out and, by the same token, get expert help on the things they really do not know how to do well.
 
Yes, this approach is not as fun as being entertained by a writer but it will have more lasting value to the reader who understands and acts upon that common sense advice. In the meantime, be careful what you waste your time reading and keep to what is truly relevant.

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