The Cost of Cool
The Cost of Cool
I received a lot of feedback to last week’s Color of Money question. I asked, “Should we blame retailers for pushing expensive products?”
Nike recently announced the launch of the LeBron X Nike Plus, a sneaker named after basketball player LeBron James that comes with its own technology and a price tag of $315.
News about the costly sneakers caused controversy, with some critics urging parents not to buy the expensive shoe.
Deron Snyder, a contributor to The Washington Post’s The Root, had a different opinion. He wrote: “Some folks who regularly buy expensive clothes, make expensive hair-care appointments and drink expensive cups of coffee can barely make ends meet. Is that the fault of the automakers, builders, designers, stylists and baristas? Of course not. Likewise, no one should blame Nike and LeBron James if their exorbitantly priced sneakers land on the feet of people who really can’t afford them.”
Here’s what some of you thought about the issue:
“I don’t think we should blame retailers for marketing the high-priced items,” said Sara Hughes of New Virginia, Idaho. “They are trying to run their business, too. However, I think that many children ‘expect’ to get such things without realizing the value of it or impact of it on their family.”
Sara McLaurin of Sykesville, Md., agreed. “Please don’t blame foolish spending on anyone except those that make the choice to spend,” she said. “No one else is responsible for a stupid purchase. And I don’t even think ‘marketers are in the business of tricking consumers!’ People aren’t tricked beyond their wills. Advertising is advertising.”
“It’s a shame that kids feel like they need to wear expensive designer clothing and footwear to be accepted by their peers,” wrote James M. Snyder Jr. of Fairfax Station, Va. “To me, it all comes from family values and what you are taught. If these kids don’t have adult role models to learn what’s ‘real cool,’ like scholastic achievement, respect for all humans, giving to charity or houses of worship, ethics/integrity, then of course they are going to go somewhere else for life’s lessons. We should not be blaming retailers. We can boycott their products, write letters to their CEOs, drum up negative press coverage, but don’t blame Nike or LeBron’s. We should be looking in the mirror for that.”
“Unless we’re protesting $200 iPods, $600 iPads, $1,000 Louis Vuitton bags, $500 high heels and $300 hair weaves, I see no logic in protesting Nike and LeBron. Nike’s obligation is to their shareholders, and my obligation is to make it a teachable moment for my kids,” stated Shaun M. from Bedstuy, N.Y.
But Fred McElhenie of Lawrence, Kan., said the company should be held accountable.
“One of the prerequisites of being a responsible business concern is the duty of being a responsible and participating citizen,” McElhenie wrote. “Nike needs to recognize the unintended consequences of their market and sales strategies, and present items to the public that best serve all tiers of our society.”
The Scholarship Squeeze
Findings from education lender Sallie Mae find that the percentage of students reporting winning scholarships dropped to 35 percent in the 2011-2012 school year from 45 percent the year before. Scholarship recipients are still getting almost exactly the same amount as the previous year, an average of $7,673, reports Chris Taylor of Reuters.
“Schools were stepping up their scholarships to help” cover rising educational costs, said Sarah Ducich, senior vice president for public policy at Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest student lender. “We wondered whether that was sustainable. This year we found out that it’s not.”
You’ll probably soon be putting away your summer things and getting ready for fall and winter. So, why not do an end-of-summer checkup on your finances? Rachel Louise Ensign of the Wall Street Journal offers some financial tips.
Experts she interviewed said that now is a good time to:
-- Update your will. Start by taking a look at your beneficiary designations and making sure your life insurance and retirement accounts will go to the intended recipients.
-- Check your insurance policy. With the winter months approaching, now is the opportune time to check your policies to make sure you have the right coverage.
-- Review your investment accounts. If you’re fortunate enough to have received a raise, think about boosting your retirement contributions. If you turn 50 this year, you can start making catch-up contributions to your 401(k) or IRA. For a 401(k), that’s up to an additional $5,500 on top of the $17,000 contribution limit for this year. For an IRA or a Roth, it’s an additional $1,000 on top of the $5,000 limit.”
Tia Lewis contributed to this report.
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