People love to point fingers and act indignant about how much people spend on other things….until it comes to themselves.
- “I can’t BELIEVE she spends THAT much on shoes.”
- “$3,000 for an apartment! RIDICULOUS!”
- “$28,000 for a wedding? I had 500 people over and we only spend $350″ (by the way, every single post on wedding costs on the Internet has annoying commenters like this)
I cover this extensively in a past post, “Attention annoying hypocrites: Stop being judgmental about your friends’ money habits,” which almost led me to violence after writing it.
I prefer to talk about conscious spending, where you spend extravagantly on the things you love, as long as you cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t.
So I found an article by Virginia Postrel from today’s Wall Street Journal particularly interesting. It turns out that broadly saying, “Spend on what you love!” is ok…until people actually describe how much they’re spending. Then things turn ugly.
Michael Pollan, the best-selling author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and a leading advocate of buying locally grown food, recently upset many of his fans by daring to put numbers on his oft-repeated prescription to “pay more, eat less.” Eight dollars for a dozen eggs? $3.90 for a pound of peaches?
Those figures were way too specific and way, way too high to go unnoticed…
Mr. Pollan’s critics sound a lot like Jackie Mason back in the 1990s, mocking Starbucks for “charging you three dollars for 50 cents worth of coffee.” Taste is subjective. So is economic value. The right price is the one you’re willing to pay…
Other buyers may not care, but I consider cheap peaches a waste of money. I don’t blame San Francisco foodies like Mr. Pollan for paying $3.90 a pound. They can always cut back on the cappuccinos.
Right on. Please, if you find yourself judging others for their spending, know two things:
- You are probably right that they are spending foolishly — not because you’re smart, but because, statistically, almost everyone is terrible at managing their money. It’s like me shouting out into a crowd, “YOU ARE ALL CARBON LIFE FORMS!!!” and then being pleased with myself when proven right.
- Please shut the hell up. You’re not the paragon of spending virtue, and if you gave me 10 minutes on the phone with you, I could identify 20% of your money being “wasted” on “ridiculous” things. Focus on your own spending, automation, and goals, and look in the mirror instead of your friends’ closets.
Related: See more rants about dumb people