Have you seen the recent announcement about Amazon’s new grocery store, Amazon Go?  I’m a sucker for technology, and the concept is awesome:  You go in the store, take what you want, and… go.  Clever, huh?

Inside the typical looking storefront is some amazing tech.  Amazon has an advanced array of motion detectors and cameras that are able to sense what items you pick up and leave the store with, versus which things you put back on the shelf.  Walk out with your basket-full of stuff, and Amazon will automatically charge your Amazon account.  How cool is that?!  

As I was cooking dinner the other night (listening to music being pumped into our kitchen from our Amazon Echo, of course) I was thinking about this new Amazon Go store.

They’re doing it again, I thought to myself.  They’re changing the way we shop.

Of course, changing the way we shop has been Amazon’s focus from the beginning.  

At first it was just an online bookstore. Then it was expanding into selling more than books. Next there was the Kindle (so you could get your book with a click, in seconds), then Prime memberships, and streaming music and video.  Now it has deployed an army of smart devices that have infiltrated our homes and make ordering things as easy as saying, “Alexa…”

What they’ve really done and what has always been their goal is to make shopping easier.  And what is shopping to Amazon?  

It is the act of separating the consumer from their money.

And It’s not just Amazon.  Whether businesses want to admit it or not, the ultimate goal of every enterprise is the transfer of money from the consumer to the business.

This observance is not meant to demonize business.  I’m a capitalist, but beyond that I believe that adults have the responsibility to decide where they spend their money.  Buying the latest Playstation and a flatscreen TV before you’ve gotten your 401(k) match might be a bad decision, but it’s your decision.

The ultimate question for every retail business is this:  How can the consumer be separated from their money in the quickest, most efficient way possible?

Amazon is cracking the code.

What a company Amazon is.  They are routinely coming up with new and creative ways to separate us from our money, and we give it to them eagerly!  In our own house we have four Amazon devices, and we love every one of them.  They all work, and they’re reasonably priced.

We still do some shopping at brick and mortar stores, but oftentimes (and more so since we’ve had a kid) we find ourselves ordering from Amazon from our cell phones.  They’ve made it so easy to shop we can do it in between tweets!

How do we defend ourselves from these companies who want our dollars?  It begins by recognizing what is happening.

Understand this:  The war for our wallets is more than a fight for our dollars; it is a battle for our hearts and minds.

That might sound hyperbolic, but it’s not; it requires extreme vigilance to overcome the retail machine’s constant onslaught of targeted ads and well-placed tweets. We are not meant to win against such long odds.

Defend your money!

So we are under attack, being hit by retailers from every possible angle, and in real jeopardy of losing more of our money than we need to if we don’t become proactive about keeping it.  How can we succeed in the face of such danger? you may ask.

There are ways, my friend.  There are ways.  

Follow these three rules, and you WILL spend less money at the store – brick-and-mortar or otherwise.

Shop with lists. If you’re married or have a significant other, make the list with them. Once the shopping has commenced, whether at a brick-and-mortar store or online, nothing gets added without a serious discussion.

No spontaneous purchases. EVER. If you want something, you sleep on it. If you still can’t live without it the next day, fine. Go ahead and get it, but don’t forget to think about what you might be giving up in its place.

Don’t save your credit card information into websites. Remember, with convenience there is always a fee. The convenience in this case is not having to pull your credit card out and punch in your numbers for the billionth time, and the fee is the purchase price of whatever it is you’re buying that you don’t actually need.  When you save your credit card information into websites you use regularly, it’s that much easier for you to spend the money; the hassle is removed.  

 

So is that it?  Follow those three rules and you’ve defeated the retailer monster? It can’t be that simple, can it?

Alas, no it cannot be. Those rules are but tiny defense measures meant to slow down the beast, not to defeat it.

The Battle You Really Have to Fight

So if the rules above are only small ways to defend yourself and your money against the retail machine, what is your ultimate weapon?  

It goes back to the what we mentioned before:  We must be financially vigilant.

This means that every day you must make conscious decisions to actively pursue your financial freedom.  You have to recognize the common enemies of your goals – the Fear-of-Missing-Out, retail ads, envy of neighbors, among many others – and tune them out when they confront you.

As much as I love Amazon – and contrary to the tone of this post, I do love Amazon – I try to see it for what it is:  A retail behemoth that, irrespective of all the breakthroughs and innovations it has made when it comes to making my life easier, has only one singular goal:  Remove my money from my possession as quickly and painlessly as possible.

That all being said, as powerful as the retail giants are at extracting hard-earned wages from the masses, it would do us well to remember this ultimate truth: When it comes to keeping more of our money, there is really only one thing we are fighting against: Ourselves.

What do you think? How dangerous is retail in the digital age? What tactics can we use to fight the urge to buy and stay focused on our financial goals?  Let us know in the comments!