spending habits – luxury spending
Welcome to the third part in our mini series “the four spending habits of the financial apocalypse”, and we are talking about luxury spending today. Luxury spending is a very loose term that could define a heck of a lot of our spending in the first world, for example you could argue that anything that isn’t spent on basic food, water and shelter is a luxury.
Luxury spending is clearly linked closely to the other two spending habits we have already discussed, most of the time the things we buy when engaging in spending wars will also fall into the luxury spending habit category, and likewise when signalling to our social circles.
However there are so many aspects to luxury spending it definitely deserves a post of it’s own.
Let’s dig in and have a look at what different aspects of luxury spending there are and what you most probably want to avoid!
designer goods vs high quality goods
It is important to make a clear distinction between something that is highly priced because it simply has certain type of label on it, and something that is expensive because it is of higher quality than cheaper goods and will therefore exhibit a vast improvement in performance and durability. From this observation it is clear that we should avoid the former but not necessarily avoid that latter.
People will often justify buying some overpriced, brand labelled piece of shit and say, nay delude themselves that it is of better quality than something 1/5th of the price but the clued up amongst us know that they all come from the same sweatshops nowadays anyway!
the automatic luxury option
I have often seen people automatically choose the highest priced item when shopping for something. The implication in their thinking is obviously along the lines of “It’s the most expensive therefore it must be the best” or maybe even “I can afford 1 this therefore I clearly deserve to be buying the best”
This puzzles me greatly! My theory is the complete opposite, start at the bottom and if that doesn’t suit the task, slowly work your way up through the options until you find something suitable for the job at hand.
An area I think this happens in repeatedly is when grocery shopping and this is where the ridiculous £500+ per month food bills we sometimes hear about, as all of those expensive options add up very fast 2. If I had a pound for every consumer magazine article or tv show where they blind test the a range of differently priced products and the cheapest or very low priced options come out ahead of the luxury option, I would have at least £25 by now. I refuse to exaggerate just to make a point 🙂 but nowadays there is no excuse for not picking up on this fact, there are plenty of people in the mainstream bleating about how brands are just that and the cheaper products often taste the same (or better) subjectively when you do not have the packaging in front of you.
(I have to admit though that I love these type of programmes. It gives me great pleasure to see someone so adamantly declare that they can taste the difference between, say, Heinz beans and supermarket brand ones and then completely fail in the blind test 🙂 )
most of the time “you’re not worth it”
No offence or anything 🙂
Actually I apologise, a more fitting headline would have been “most of the time, it’s just not worth it”. We’ve splashed out a few times in our lives on what I would call extreme luxury and most of the time I have just found myself a bit pissed off that I’d just blown a hell of lot of money on something that was not magnitudes better than the normal option, despite the price being so.
One excellent example that springs to mind is when we finish up travelling round South America in 2008 in Rio. We’d stayed in a brilliant hostel for around £20 per night for a whole week, made loads of friends, and more importantly the bar had a happy hour that lasted from 6-8pm. We drunk a lot of caipirinhas between 6-8pm that week 🙂
Having spent 3 months in perfectly lovely but basic and cheap hostels, we decided to live the high life for the final night of our travelling and booked up one night at the Copacabana Palace which cost £500 for one night. This was back in ’08 as mentioned so god knows what it costs nowadays! I think this included breakfast but did not include dinner, and we ate in, so stumped up another >£100 for that as well.
Whilst being as nice as you’d probably expect it just wasn’t so amazing it was worth 25 times more than the hostel we stayed in!
It did not escape me that we could have spent another week in Rio and partied at the hostel every night, for the cost of one night at “the palace”.
Another negative with this sort of thing is being outside of your comfort zone. Now I am all for getting outside of my comfort zone when it means pushing myself harder with physical or mental goals and developing myself, but not when it means I am paying through my nose to feel like an outsider. This was noted by a few people (including myself obviously) in the comments on Cerridwen’s recent post on wealth and glamour. Going back to the Rio example, we both had to buy new clothes just actually be allowed in there because our shoddy old travelling clothes wouldn’t have cut the mustard and we may have been refused entry! I absolutely detest the exclusive nature of places like this 3
Another great example of this was our honeymoon to Thailand, which although it was amazing I am sure we’d have had just as much fun staying in cheaper hotels or hostels again. Mrs TFS may disagree with me on that one though 🙂
your luxury experiences
Well that was a nice brief dip into my thoughts on luxury spending, hope you enjoyed it!
As always I like to hear other’s opinions so I will finish up with a question:
What is the most luxurious and over the top thing you have ever spent on and was it worth the extra money?
- As in “I have enough in my bank account or worse, credit card limit, to afford this”. MMM might have a few words to say about what they really can “afford”! ↩
- A friend confessed recently that they were spending £1000 a month on their groceries for 2 adults and small child. Gobsmacked was not the word! 🙂 ↩
- Regular readers may note that I like my golf… Yes golf clubs are very similar in this regard and yes I do detest that aspect about the game. Things are changing however and many clubs do allow more casual dress nowadays. I obviously try to avoid the ones that are too poncy. ↩