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A day or two back I used some – wait for it – CASH at a ‘hip’ retail shop where I was probably easily the oldest person in the store by a decade. Yes, I pulled out some cash to pay a small bill, like $5. The clerk’s eyes bulged a bit and he called out nervously, ‘OMG – need cash assistance on register 3!’ (Yes, I added the OMG, but you get the idea).
There and then I really wanted to give this guy a bit of lecture on the fact that CASH is actually ultra cool. It’s use is the best way to escape the ever-overly prying eyes of big business retail data – now in the final stages of tweaking what they like to refer to as ‘dynamic pricing’ as discussed on On the Media on NPR this past Sunday.
Other ways to get out of the tracking stream include getting out of or minimizing use of big data collection sites – most especially the likes of Facebook and Gmail/Google and Amazon. Also, I’d say LinkedIn as they are pretty merciless in using your data and ignoring your privacy.
Also, these days Google et al have no problem tracking you by your phone conversations as well – because, hey – it’s anonymous of course. Okay, this is really, really messed up stuff. I’ve done my own tests and read about others experiences and this is real – they are semantically analyzing phone conversations and using this as ‘data’ to inform the ads you then see on your computer or phone. If you don’t believe it, just leave your phone by a radio for a while, say a Spanish channel if you speak English, and watch the next day or two and you will probably see Spanish ads that start to mix in. Even when you are not talking into your phone, it is still able to track you and the personal conversations you are simply having within earshot of your smart phone.
Also, I can confirm that Google does have technology that embeds a camera in the application, thus bypassing your internal camera. It is operating in Google Hangouts – so who is to say they ever actually turn it off? I don’t presently understand how they managed to do this but I know they have because I keep my camera physically blocked and yet their camera was still working.
Do you know why small businesses are screwed? Because the big businesses get the cheap little businesses to use their free products – as well as just individual people. And the long term cost is they know everything about you – your clients, how you make money, spend money and on and on. And they come into your vertical market with that data and they crush you out of business. Even if you did not give up your own info, surely a nice group of similar companies have already and that is helpful for them to crush you anyway.
And for consumers – they will be getting a nice big dose of JUST IN TIME PRICING – or dynamic pricing. They will know your mother’s birthday is only three days out and they will make you pay. Tomorrow you say? Then pay even more. They will know your small business (if you still happen to have one) buys ink generally in February – and you will see no discounts then, and even perhaps temporarily higher prices.
So – diversify where you shop, avoid big data sites that can accumulate data that will ultimately cause you pricing pain, use cash, and once you’re to the point where you have a good idea what you might need in a given year, plan to vary buying patterns around known trends in seasonality- which is how you get the best deals anyhow.
Cash Helps Us Pay Attention to What We Are Buying and Why
Here is another very important facet of using cash. You pay much more attention to what you are spending when you use hard cash. This is shown over and over again in studies on the topic. If you use a credit card or even debit card, you will most likely spend more at the store.
In my view cash is fashionable once again – or rather, has never gone out of fashion. I don’t plan to stop using it until they rip it out of my hand.
What I do plan to stop using however is Gmail and Amazon. Admittedly I dread disentangling from Gmail so hope to get up the gumption to do that soon.
This is why I find Chicago’s Ventra system abhorrent btw – you cannot see your balance as you go along at the turnstiles anymore- they want you on a credit card – and you probably will end up spending more – like when you say to your friend, ‘don’t worry – I’ll just put you on mine – it’s on my credit card.’ No, the negative balance feature does not outway the positives and yes, I am very cynical that some how some way some day it will come to light that Ventra worker X was skimming .00005 cents of each ride or something like that…
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The self-published book by Dolores Hark entitled, "Living Frugally with Purpose and Style: the New Conserver," is now available for download.
Dolores has a Master's Degree in Economics and in Sociology from a reknowned U.S. based university. She provides a serious look at how to better manage Household Economics.
View the book outline here