America has a weird approach to money. On one level, we love to spend it (if we have it) to judge by the things that people buy. On another level, we continuously shame people for buying things. It’s a strange duality – until you think about it for a few minutes.
Americans believe money is a measure of virtue. We believe having it shows virtue (even if someone inherited it or made it in questionable ways). We believe spending it somehow shows virtue as long as it’s the right things. To have money and spend it has a weird moral quality – if you’re the right person or kind of person.
On the other hand, we view the wrong people spending things on the wrong things to be bad. Millennials get constantly bashed for A) wasting money while B) killing industries by not buying stuff they can’t afford anyway. I’m sure you’ve encountered various cases of some scold telling you not to buy things – that they, of course, would do.
Me, I’m frugal. OK, I’m quite cheap in some ways. I am the last person to tell someone to spend money for no good reason. So I’d like to chime in that it’s damn fine to spend money on things because sometimes it makes sense and is better than saving it. Use this the next time you feel guilty, or some jerk decides to make you feel guilty.
Here’s where I think it’s damned fine to spend money.
Sometimes it’s fun. There’s nothing wrong with fun. People need more fun in their lives as far as I’m concerned. So go, spend, have fun.
Sometimes it’s therapeutic. I mean if a bar of chocolate or a mimosa makes you feel better, spend the money. Indulge, feel better – I learned from my studies on diet and exercise that indulgences can be incredibly valuable to sanity.
It saves time. Pay for that food to be delivered, pay for that restaurant to send you a pizza, spring for postage. If time is money, sometimes you have to spend money to save time.
Capability. Maybe you need to spend money on something you can’t do yourself due to not having the skills, illness, physical limitations, etc. Know what, it’s fine to spring for someone to clean the apartment if you can’t, I mean seriously.
Cost-benefit. Sometimes you get more out of spending money than not doing it. That reasonably priced laptop that lets you send email, do your job search, practice your skills, etc. is worth it.
Sometimes you must do it. Look sometimes stuff costs money and you can’t go without that stuff. Don’t let the scolds tell you not to do it.
Temporary situations. If you get sick and have to order out, fine, spend money. Must change apartments because of a job move, fine, pay the move fees. Spending money is not always a constant; sometimes it’s temporary.
Spending money as fine. As an official skinflint, a man that has an involvement with spreadsheets bordering on the romantic, please, spend money. Don’t listen to the scolds and the puritans who want to tell you what not to do so they can feel superior (and often they have money and positions that you don’t).
I’m all for frugality. I’m all for careful spending. But money is just a tool, and sometimes you gotta open the toolkit.