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Money Matters

Want to save? Be color-blind!

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Question: Will you kindly tell me which practice is best for controlling my spending? Whenever I go to the mall to enjoy free air conditioning, I get the urge to splurge, even if there are no sale promotions around. On the other hand, if I stay at home, I just get tempted to turn on the air conditioner, which also costs me money.—Literally hot shopaholic

Answer: Going to the shopping mall is a national pastime. With the proliferation of these huge, air-conditioned one-stop shops in the country, who could resist spending an average of four hours every Saturday and/or Sunday to relax? And there’s the bonus of seeing a plethora of goods, activities and shows that are no less than a feast for the eyes.

Here’s the thing. If you will spend the same time at home and turned on your own, say one horse power air conditioner for the same four hours each Saturday and Sunday, then you will add only P300 to your monthly electric bill (note: the other assumption is that your monthly electric bill is around P5,000). Don’t believe me? Go check this out using the Meralco appliance calculator at www.meralco.com.ph.

If you go to the mall, each trip will cost you gas money and parking fees if you bring your own car or jeepney/bus/taxi fares if you go by public transportation. You will also probably grab a snack or even take lunch there. Assuming you take a P50 meal for a family of four, that’s already P200 per mall visit. Of course, you may also bring out snacks when you are at home. But at home, you will not charge yourself extra to make a profit. You obviously get your food cheaper (unless you have food delivered).

And then there’s shopping. How can you resist? Marketers have devised so many effective strategies in product packaging; one of them has to do with colors. Marketers play around with colors and even periodically invent new combinations with exotic names to take advantage of the psychological and physiological influence of colors on humans.

To be sure, reactions to colors do vary between cultures. According to one study, while white can symbolize purity and happiness in Anglo-Saxon countries, it can also mean death and mourning in Asian cultures. In Anglo-Saxon and Latin cultures, the color green connotes envy while it can be seen as purity in the Chinese and Korean cultures and danger or disease in Malaysia.

But there are common points like those listed below:

Children prefer the primary colors. It’s no wonder therefore that children’s toys are colored that way.

Red and orange encourage diners to eat quickly and leave. This is why many fast-food outlets use these colors.

Some fine-dining restaurants use blue as it is calming and may cause people to stay longer and order more. However, too much of blue is bad because it can also suppress appetite.

When applied as a trim in casinos, red can influence patrons to lose track of time and keep on betting.

Red and black combined are seen as sexy and seductive.

A red dress can convey power.

Black clothes make people look thinner. Black can also connote elegance, sophistication and a mysterious quality.

Yellow evokes cheerfulness. Come to think of it, this was probably part of the formula for the success of people power in the Philippines.

Marketers can also combine colors to convey their message. Functionally, for example, the most legible color combinations are black on yellow, green on white, and red on white. This is probably why many traffic signs use these combinations.

There is so much research on the effect of color on humans. In his book “Color & Human Response: Aspects of Light and Color Bearing on the Reactions of Living Things and the Welfare of Human Beings” Faber Birren said that about 8 percent of men are color-blind as opposed to 0.5 percent of women. This is probably why women’s clothes and accessories tend to be more colorful that those of men.

But there is a way though to combat man’s physiological, psychological and even culture-based reactions to colors. Faber Birren as well as other researchers have shown that man’s reactions to colors are only temporary.

So, if you cannot resist cooling off in the malls, try not to act on impulse when you feel lured to any item because of its colors. Tell that item, “If we were meant to be together, you will still be here when I come back for you next week.” Chances are, when you see that item again one week later, that level attraction will not be as intense as the first time. Be color-blind!

Color psychology and the bigger topic of behavioral finance are part of personal financial planning. Personal financial planning is an effective way to keep your money where it should be and keep you aligned with your ultimate goals in life. Personal financial planning is applicable to all, from full-time employees to full-time businessmen.

Ask your company to integrate personal finance training into your company’s employee benefits. Invite your company’s Employee Relations Manager to the EnRich training scheduled on Aug. 14, 2012. There are limited seats being given away to HR practitioners. And if you personally want to know more about uncommon ways of saving as well as effective personal cash, debt, risk and wealth management, attend as a paying guest.  Visit www.personalfinance.ph, e-mail info@personalfinance.ph or call (632)2161541/ (632)3593094 for more details.

(Efren Ll. Cruz is a Registered Financial Planner of RFP Philippines, personal finance coach, seasoned investment adviser and bestselling author. Questions about the article may be sent by SMS to 0917-5050709 or e-mailed to efren@personalfinance.ph. To learn more about the RFP program, visit www.rfp.ph or e-mail info@rfp.ph.)


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  • KpTUL

    Seriously ? Why dont you just go completely blind ? I cant believe na may article na ganito. This is non sense, the title is farfetched ! It pains me to see articles that are so twisted and manipulated get published. Wala bang nagche-check sa inquirer ng quality ? The only thing they have to do is check the title kahit hindi na basahin ang body.

  • WeAry_Bat

    i kept mistaking between violet and purple, but one or either of them is a good combination with black.  and one of them, when sided with green, is quite an eye-sore combination.

    this is why the prior to USBs, the color for the mouse cable plug is green and keyboard is purple/violet.  one can hardly mistake them just like the black-and-yellow warning signs and red-white danger signs.

    to follow up on the author’s suggestion and to the detriment of marketing and retailers, i think of a pair of slightly tinted glasses which one can use in the malls without causing the fear of impending robbery among shoppers.

    call them glasses, your shopping-suppressant device.

    i imagine i could get rich researching and patenting such glasses.  then again, if some claim it doesn’t work, it’s case to court.  so it’s a free suggestion, no claim, no foul.



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