3/13/2023 11:22

Avoid Becoming Homeless In Less Than 3 Weeks

Sometimes I notice how different my life is from the people most marketed toward. My tax accountant or his publicity vendor writes a newsletter for the CPA's customers. This month it has a few paragraphs about the Avoid Becoming Homeless In Less Than 3 Weeks fund we should all maintain against financial emergencies.

"A smaller emergency fund may suffice," they say, "if, for instance, your spouse has a reasonably secure job, you have relatives who can provide financial assistance in a pinch, or there's reason to believe that you'd be able to find other work quickly if you lost your job."

If, however, I have no spouce (let alone an employed spouse, let alond a securely employed spouse); I have hardly any relatives at all notwithstanding their putative financial status; I could not conceivably get a new job quickly (given my 15 years of willful unemployment) although it is a moot point whether my old job was lost or merely misplaced.

Still I am not completely left out in the cold.

"Conversely, if you're the sole breadwinner or you simply have a low tolerance for risk, a bigger emergency fund may be appropriate," they say.

The term "breadwinner" might not be the best match, but whatever income comes to this household is under my name. As for risk tolerance, mine is not just low but minimal. When I stopped working I calculated a 95% chance of having enough money through age 95 from any 2 of Social Security, pernsions, and investments (in case any one of the legs of that proverbial 3-legged stool broke). That sounds like a low risk tolerance to me.

In actual reality there is almost no chance I will Become Homeless In Less Than 3 Weeks short of foreign occupation or multiple expansive chemical disasters in the immediate neighborhood (both of which appear to be unlikely for now). But if everyone were as careful of avoiding that risk as I am, my CPA would not be selling his services in this area at all.

This is the underlying observation today: Most goods and services being advertised to me or in my presence have no particular relevance to me. It is interesting these businesses advertise to me at all -- or any businesses, given how seldom I buy anything in response to advertising. I spent tens of thousands of dollars this past few months on items I hope never to buy again, such as a roof, a furnace, and exterior doors. Those businesses never advertised to me anyway; I had sought them out.

On the other hand, I did buy a book and the bookseller may try to encourage me to buy another. And I bought some underwear leading that company to try to convince me to buy a tee shirt. These are reasonable hopes on their part: I surely will read another book and it is possible I might buy that book; the underwear I bought was a replacement for some that has now worn out. And all the advertising in question is extremely cheap to send me, so those examples might eventually, after a few years, result in a small positive net return.

They can always hope. In the meantime all their ads are automatically shunted aside.

If businesses knew me better, if they cared more about how I shop and spend in actual reality (because of course I do sometimes spend money), they would adopt a different and more efficient manner of outreach.

I can always hope. But if I am as unusual as the actual ads suggest I am the hope is probably forlorn.