In At Work, Capsule Wardrobe, Discussions, In my closet, Minimalism, Money, Style, Style, Wardrobe Help, Women

How can I claim to earn like a princess but live like a pauper?

Barb wrote this following comment in response to my March 2013 (insane spending) month:

You say you “earn like a princess but living like a ‘pauper’ and “live moderately, and I try hard to avoid lifestyle inflation” but you spent 263 on MAKE UP BRUSHES?

I mean, if you can afford it, go for it, but that doesn’t seem very pauper!

(And $600 on underwear? Is it made of GOLD?)

I know Barb is not saying to NOT spend (go for it, she says), but her incredulity speaks volumes.

Other than the fact that it sounds great in English (princess earning versus pauper living), that statement does have some backbone to it.

Here’s my (long-winded) response:

THINK ABOUT WHAT I EARN IN RELATION TO WHAT I SPEND

To put things into perspective, I make about $20K a month when I work. I work on average, 6 months in a year but my best years are 9 months or more. (PRINCESS)

When I worked about 9 months on one year, I saved (net, after taxes and expenses) — $130,000 in my pocket out of $180,000 gross or $145,800 net income after taxes. (PAUPER)

I aim to save about 50% of my income, but secretly want to save 75%, and generally bank $50,000 net a year when I make money.

On average, I save more than 50% of my income each year, upwards to 90% at my peak of saving (that 90% was during the time I worked for a company and traveled a LOT for work).

Or at least, that has been my average, not including a year I took to travel around Europe and Asia.

I haven’t worked much lately, but even so, let’s keep in mind that I still managed to bank about $62,000 last year after expenses and taxes which included working for a couple of months and moving from country to country.


Now that you know all that, let’s look at my income in relation to what I spent:

$263 Makeup Brushes / $20,000 Income a month

= 26.3% of what I make in a day

= 1.315% of what I make in a month

Or 0.219% of what I make in an average year.

…for makeup brushes that will last, and are not made in cheap countries.

—————————————————————————————————————–

$600 Underwear / $20,000 Income a month

= 60% of what I make in a day

= 3% of what I make in a month 

Or 0.5% of what I make in an average year.

What’s the point?

It’s that in one day’s work, I could easily pay for what I just bought.

I just need ONE day.

It doesn’t take me 2 weeks or even a week to earn $1000 when I am on contract. It takes a day.

(My idol by the way is Zooey Deschanel for spending.)

Sure, it isn’t a “pauper” lifestyle for you or for most people, as in I am living on food stamps and spending $500 a month, but compared to what I make at about $1000 a day on average, I can safely say that $863 is not going to bankrupt me.

My income is irregular but my expenses are not, and I will eventually make money sometime in the next 5-10 years as I am using these items, to clear my expenses.

$263 ON MAKEUP BRUSHES – NOT SOMETHING I DO REGULARLY

These are pretty rare expenses.

See, if you read my post on “Can we trust anything in China“, I have been replacing all my cheap Wal-mart and Target makeup brushes with ones made in Japan and France from MAC.

I already set aside $10,000 as a budget to replace all my cheap things and $863 comes out of that.

The last time I bought makeup brushes was when I was on a trip to Target last year, and the time before that, was about 2 years before that, when I bought my first 2 MAC brushes (which I kept, by the way).

I don’t plan on replacing these makeup brushes for the rest of my life, but in the event I have to, they SHOULD last at least 10 years based on what I have been told in terms of how great MAC brushes are.

(My 2 brushes from 3 years ago are still like new.)

Even if they only last for 10 years, that’s $26.30 a year or $2.19 a month. Other brushes I had, wore out in no time, shedding hairs all over my face when I used them.

Good quality at fair wages costs money.

I didn’t pay for the right items before last month, because I was being cheap with my money (I thought it was being frugal at the time), but I’m sucking up that mistake and paying for it now.

I am being conscious now to pay once, not twice or thrice.

$600 ON UNDERWEAR – AGAIN, NOT A REGULAR EXPENSE

$600 on underwear, is the cost of underwear not made in Third World sweatshops where they could use harsh chemicals that seep into your skin and absorb into your private parts and cause health problems.

(80% of these chemicals wash out on the first wash, but 20% remain and “release toxins slowly” during each wash, as per Greenpeace’s research. Just think about that. Victoria’s Secret was my entire underwear wardrobe and I’ve junked it.)

The underwear I bought is from Cosabella, it’s made with European cotton in the U.S.

BF recently purchased boxers made in Canada by Stanfield’s, and they cost $30 on sale. The original price was $35 or $40 I think.

For ONE pair of men’s boxers.

For women, it always costs more because we’re considered flighty creatures who would pay a lot of money for very little fabric. My underwear cost $39 (before taxes) for a single pair and I needed 7 for the week.

$39 X 7 = $273

And 2 new bras:

$160 x 2 = $320

Plus taxes of 13%.

Like makeup brushes, I also don’t buy underwear daily, monthly or even yearly.

The last pairs I bought before this month, was about 4 years ago, and they were cheap ones from Victoria’s Secret where the elastic stretched out, it had started ripping and pilling, but I didn’t care because I was being cheap and too lazy to go out to buy new pairs.

(I contemplated sewing them tighter, actually.)

These pairs should last me about the same amount of time — 5 years, but I am hoping they won’t start to disintegrate about a year after wearing them, and I am no longer keeping a stock of underwear.

$600 for my underwear / 5 years

= $120 a year as cost-per-wear

= $12/month as cost-per-wear

You find it expensive, but if I had been proactive on replacing my underwear, I would have needed to replace the cheap crap I bought, every year.

Let’s do the math to see how much more I’m really paying:

For $30, I could buy about 3 pairs or more of underwear at Victoria’s Secret, or $60 for 6 pairs (enough for a week) and pretending that they actually last 6 months to a year.

They’re still making a sweet profit margin, but the material is suspect, and so are their labour practices as well as their quality.

So in contrast, buying cheap underwear:

At $60 for 6 pairs and $50 for a bra

= $110 a year (every year) assuming you don’t go to Dollarama

= $10/month as cost-per-wear

The cost-per-wear works out to be about the same give or take $10 a year, but I am not freaking out about the way they made what I am wearing, the guilt over the labour being used to produce them, and my things are lasting longer.

Which brings me to my next point:


CAN YOU REALLY PUT A PRICE ON YOUR VALUES?

My values have drastically switched to fair trade, fair labour and to avoid suspected toxins, which is why I created that $10,000 budget to replace major things.

So I ask you:

Can you put a price on what you believe in?

Can you really put a price on your health?

Can you put a price on cheap labour that forces other people in other countries to literally be our economic slaves all for the sake of super low, cheap prices?

They can’t even afford childcare in China, but they still need to take care of their kids, so they chain them up at work while they work.

I am not joking, here’s a photo:

daily-mail-foreign-service-child-chained-fence-china

Source

Read this, this and this on children being chained in China.

It’s easy to shame me for spending $5000 last month, isn’t it?

It’s easy to say with sheer incredulity:

OMG how can you say you save money and are smart with it, when you spend like crazy on underwear?

$600 is insane!

….until you look at the faces of the innocent children of those workers who are trying to make a living.

Once you put a human face to what your cheap underwear costs, it changes your perception, does it not?

FWRO

(Source)

You think underwear at $600 is expensive and it should be “made out of gold” to quote your words, but you actually don’t understand what it costs to pay a worker real, respectable living wages because you’re too used to paying for cheap labour items from Victoria’s Secret, even J. Crew and Dollarama.

We’re all too used to low prices that are kept artificially low by the Chinese government regulating the RMB currency, and because I, like many others, was a lazy consumer who would have rather saved that money in our pockets than give it to someone for fair wages.

It IS my fault for having just looked at prices in the past and thinking the same thing:

$39 for some underwear? Are you kidding? I can buy 3 pairs for that price.

Those stores are making a pretty decent PROFIT off selling 3 pairs of underwear at $30, or $10 each.

Let that sink in, because at $10 per pair of underwear, how much do you think it cost for them to make a pair of panties as in raw materials and labour?

A buck? There’s not much material, and it’s not even good cotton to boot.

Then you factor in marketing, advertising and First World country selling, and it’s maybe $3 for a pair of panties, and they’re taking $7 in profit. Maybe $5 to be conservative.

I was so used to paying low-labour prices that I gagged a little when I forked over $600 for underwear.

It’s an insane amount of money based on what I used to spend before (3 for the price of one!), but if that’s what real goods at fair prices costs, then that is what I am going to damn well pay.

As another example, just I recently paid about $40 for 8 handkerchiefs made out of organic cotton manufactured in Canada.

Why?

Because I don’t know where the other handkerchiefs I had were made, and I’m constantly using them on my face, so I might as well use something that won’t make me sick in the long-run due to dyes, pesticides and whatever else they’re putting in handkerchiefs.

(Also the organic cotton ones are amazingly thick and absorbent! I prefer them to the other thin ones, truth be told.)

I also paid $7 for a single scrunchie for my hair.

Why? Because the fabric and the manufacturing is all done in the U.S.

That’s what it costs for a scrunchie bought at fair wages. $7.

Not $0.50.

Not $1.

$7.

Everything costs at least 5X (sometimes more) more when you take into account fair wages and profit, especially when you realize that stores like Banana Republic, Zara and their ilk are always putting everything on 50% – 70% ON SALE!!… but stores like American Apparel rarely every give a sale more than 10% – 15% off even on a good day.

On to my next point:

IT IS FRUGAL WHEN YOU CONSIDER THE LONG-TERM IMPLICATIONS

Never mind the financial side of things with cost-per-wear, as demonstrated in my underwear example above that point out how it is not that expensive in the long run.

You think it’s not a frugal or befitting of the “pauper” moniker, but when it comes down to it, I am not putting a price on my health just to save a penny.

I set aside $10,000 as a budget this year to replace everything that matters, and I am not buying multiples this time (too expensive to buy multiples!!!).

Happily, this serves a double purpose of cutting down on having stuff, which helps my minimalist streak.

The way I see it, — if I got sick and contracted a disease or a cancer (as many of my family members have), I am willing to pay any price to save my life, and give up my entire fortune to cure anyone I love.

I’d even be willing to go into debt to save someone I love, someone like my mother if she got sick.

Wouldn’t you?

So why wouldn’t I pay the price now and prevent any possible problems, even if they are a 1 in a billion chance that I am overreacting?

This is exactly what I’m doing.

You will notice my Gift section from March 2013’s budget was pretty high as well, as I replaced all the cooking and food-use items at my parents’ house because I was concerned for their health as well.

What is $600 to me in the long-run, to make sure that I don’t screw up my body and cause problems with just a little preventative action?

What is $600 when I am dying of an incurable disease that no one can figure out because all this cheap, possibly toxic crap has only recently entered our markets?

Being rich is useless if you’re unhealthy and on the verge of death, and there’s no price you can put on peace of mind.

I’d pay $600 million if I had it, to be healthy and whole again if I was sick.

Maybe I’m overreacting, maybe I’m paranoid and a hypochondriac, but I am not the only one who thinks this.

There are plenty of people out there who are just as paranoid as I am, which makes me feel like there is something, however minuscule of a real problem it might be.

We are living in a world where we’re starting to realize that things are not really that safe for us, and not regulated by our governments whom we trust with our lives.

Did you know that the U.S. approves over 2000 chemicals each year, and Canada approves over 1000 chemicals a year?

Do you think they’re checking all of these chemicals before letting companies use them? I’m not so sure. It wasn’t so long ago that we all thought plastic and even PFOA in Teflon was fine to be re-heated in a pan or used in products, and it wasn’t until someone did the studies, that they realized it was releasing toxins into our food and causes serious problems.

But Teflon was on the market for so long, and it is even in things like rice cookers that I used for many years!

Photograph-Meal-Eat-Food-Morbier-Cheese-Bread-Platter-Snacks-2

How about food as an example?

Buying cheap food in Dollarama would certainly increase my net worth hand over fist, but what’s the point of eating cheap, canned food preserved in chemicals, when I have the means to buy fresh food?

Money accumulation is great, but it is not the be-all and end-all of my life. I still want to be healthy and alive to enjoy my savings (and I want to enjoy it now too).

Life isn’t all about expenses being as low as possible — if I thought that, the logical route would be to kill myself so that I spend $0 for the rest of my life. Literally.

That’s morbid, but it’s the rationale I repeat to people who tell me that they want to spend as little as possible on their life, and that spending even $3 on a pair of underwear is impossible to fathom, let alone $39.

What’s the point of living then? It’s not a life worth living.

LET’S LOOK AT WHAT I DON’T SPEND

Now that you have a bit of history of what I earn when I work, and what I spend in relation to that income, and my values, tell me what YOU earn and spend before you judge me so I know where you’re coming from.

Do you have a car loan? Maybe a mortgage? Credit card balances? Lines of credit?

Do you go out to eat on a regular basis? Maybe pick up a drink around the corner once in a while, with a bag of chips?

How about buying convenience foods? Do you cook everything from scratch, even your sauces?

Regular treats like smokes? Coffee? Tea? Doughnuts? Bagel in the morning? Junk food?

Do you buy commercial shampoo, conditioner, body washes, and on a regular basis?

Do you pick up laundry detergent every 3 months or so, with a side of dryer sheets?

Maybe get your hair dyed on a regular basis, and cut every 3-6 months or so?

How about manicures or pedicures? Spa days? Facials? Massages?

Do you take a cabs on vacation, or even around the city?

Do you buy commercial cleaning products that smell nice and make you feel like your house is squeaky clean with just a spray that kills odours but leaves bacteria behind?

Now how much is all of the above relative to your income and how much do you save each year?

See for me, I don’t have any of those expenses, and things like treats (coffee or macarons) on a regular basis.

All of what I DON’T spend, is in addition to being a conscious spender who doesn’t want to use, eat or wear cheap things.

I save a lot, I spend my money, and I splurge on things I see a value in.

I have a drink at Starbucks when I am out to meet friends as a treat. That’s it.

 

I buy a drink there, when I have a social purpose to do so, otherwise, I am not spending money on drinks on any kind of regular basis.

Now let’s imagine you DON’T do all those things because you are frugal at heart and live on $100 a month, I’m going to be a big self-righteous, obnoxious brat and point out the obvious:

The majority of folks don’t make my kind of income and spend as little as I do, relatively speaking.

(Taking into account I also set aside a budget of $10,000 to replace everything this year.)

I don’t need to spend as little as I do, comparatively speaking. I choose to forego mini, daily luxuries like a Starbucks Green Tea Latte, and I choose to cut back on things that have little long-term value for me.

Princess, meet Pauper.

Most people I know in my income bracket, unless they’re “early retirement extreme” folks, spend every penny they have and then can’t figure out why they’re barely making it.

Some are even in debt and think it’s fine.

I haven’t been in debt since I cleared my loans back in 2009, about the same time I stopped dying my hair, and started going to a hairdresser once a year (when my hair gets really unruly & needs a trim).

My cleaning products are basic ones: white vinegar, baking soda, soap, water and elbow grease. I don’t even buy laundry detergent or dryer sheets.

I’ve even given up commercial toiletries as of late except for things on my face (even those have turned natural), and I have been using soap nuts ($18 for a kilogram) as a shampoo, without any conditioner on my hair at all.

Generally, food is my largest expense each month because we buy good organic food, and cook at home. I tend to spare no expense in this category.

I don’t go out to eat very often these days.

When I do, it’s to meet friends for a social visit, and it’s to trustworthy (read: expensive) restaurants that won’t kill me with their rather questionable cooking methods and ingredients (source: The Food Network especially Guy Fieri cruising out to these restaurants, or Restaurant Makeover shows), and I definitely don’t pick up convenience foods whatsoever.

When I do travel, I spend the most that I can to go where I want, for as long as possible while being reasonable.

As an example, I traveled around the world in 2011 to many cities and countries for about $20,000, staying in low-budget hotels, eating (good food) in grocery stores not restaurants, and taking the bus/train/metro/walking everywhere I could.

CASE IN POINT: WHERE I WENT FOR 2011 FOR $20,000

Asia-2011-Polaroids-All

 

Europe-2011-Polaroids-All

TOTAL COST OF THOSE CITIES? $20,000

When I figured out the cost, people told me it was impossible to spend so little to travel where I did.


My aunt said she spent $10,000 just going to Paris by herself for 2 weeks (!!) but I know what is important to cut and what isn’t in a budget for me.

Cabs, fancy hotels and restaurants out each night are not important to me. Good food is.

Saving money on cheap underwear or suspect goods is not important to me. My long-term health & well-being, is.

So while I have expenses that are quite rare and are very high to you, it’s because I am literally putting my money where my mouth is, and living a conscious lifestyle based on what I want to spend my money on.

…which is the whole point of why I saw a value in spending $600 on underwear and $263 on makeup brushes.

You don’t have to do it (your values are yours, you can continue to ignore everything I’ve said), but you certainly don’t have any right to shame me for it either.

(Especially since you’re not the one living or paying for my life.)

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have paid my $600K home in cash (my half was $300K), my $180K casr in cash, worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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47 Comments

  1. Lila

    That photo of that boy being chained broke my heart. I can’t believe this is happening to kids! This makes me so sad and angry. Awhile back I also read that Chinese products contain lead and other toxic chemicals.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/8944028/One-third-of-Chinese-toys-contain-heavy-metals.html

    I know the dailymail is a bit tabloid-y but they also do cover real news. It’s not just them that have reported the toxicity of Chinese products but other journalists, non profits, and studies have been done on this.

    I used to think people who were anti-Chinese products were snobbish and bigoted and it seemed like they wanted to deny that we live in a global economy. A lot of them tend to be seniors and they seemed kind of racist to me. But now I know that’s not always the case.

    I used to joke about my friends who graduated college and started to make good salaries and started buying Apple products, going to whole foods and farmers market, and stopped buying Chinese products but now I realize hey there’s a good reason for that. I should have asked them why instead of making assumptions.

    I’m still not sold on Apple products though 😛

    It’s depressing how many world wide brands contain toxic chemicals. 🙁

    I’m betting the executives who work for these companies, know about this and don’t buy their own company’s products.

    Reply
  2. Vanessa

    If I could afford it, I would buy $600 of underwear in a heartbeat. I bought a bra from La Senza last year and, even though I washed it, it gave me this weird water-filled welt which, after Googling, I learned was due to the formaldehyde that they use in the manufacturing process. Yay cheap garments! :/

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Eeeeeyuck.

      Your boobs never look the same in a cheap bra after a few washes.

      Reply
  3. SarahN

    I’m not a long term reader, so don’t shoot me down for not ‘knowing’ this – but do you rent? Have you paid your mortgage out, outright? I do remember you mentioning a post your living costs being rather low. I’m interested only because you launched the debt question in argument to the commenter who sparked this post.

    Reply
  4. Tania

    I saw your statement of “pauper” in a non-literal way. It was a play on words, your use of pauper was relative, I didn’t take it to mean you live like someone in poverty.

    I too spend bucks on make-up brushes and underpinnings but here’s the thing. I hadn’t bought new make-up brushes in over ten years. I just went through a mass clean-out of my make-up, skin care and bathroom because my grooming tendencies are much more minimal than in the past since I moved from a city to a more rural lifestyle. I tossed out all the old stuff because it was gross and bought new make-up brushes and make-up. Like you I stayed away from made in China and cheap not built to last. Buying new high quality brushes wasn’t frugal but the fact that I now limit myself to three max (kabuki for powder, blush for bronzer and one eye shadow) is frugal and minimal IMHO (and that’s the only one that should matter). My new make-up pieces can also be counted on one hand and yeah it wasn’t cheap stuff.

    I see your blog to be more about conscious spending, not being cheap. There are lots of other blogs about that particular topic. If you wrote about being an extreme cheapskate I wouldn’t be here as much I am. As humans, we are not just one note. While you emphasize saving, you also emphasize spending responsibly and that’s ok. When you are thinking of cost, you are not just thinking about your own personal cost but the global cost. I also know very few people who are extremely frugal on every single thing. We all decide what to splurge and save on, it’s a personal decision.

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      But there’s no word for “conscious spending”, which is why I thought “frugal” worked. Apparently not.

      Frugal = Cheap.

      Reply
  5. Michelle

    My eyes almost popped out of my head when I saw the picture of the little love bug chained to the post. WTH???I had no idea and feel even better about not shopping this year. I have been getting increasingly nervous about food products from China and have stopped purchasing them (smoked oysters, etc.) You have the right to spend your money the way you want to because you earned it. It’s refreshing to hear of someone (you) practicing what you preach.

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I don’t eat anything that has been made in China now, not even sauces. There have been reports about soy sauce from brands like Lee Kum Kee containing poisons. The Chinese government is careful to quash most stories, so people tend to look the other way to avoid being sent to prison or banished.

      Reply
  6. Sara

    Paupers don’t have the option to purchase based on their values, or to consider long-term cost per wear. Furthermore, they only have buying power when they’re earning money.

    But princesses also don’t have to earn money…so, whatever.

    It’s a catchy way of describing the gap between your income and earnings.

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Catchy ring was more of my tune but it brought out some interesting discussion points.

      Reply
  7. American Debt Project

    So…when can we hang out? This post is awesome, as are you. I like learning about conscious spending and have started to do it in a very minor way myself now that my debt is almost gone. For example, I used to have zero proper kitchen items. I went and bought a nice German knife and it was amazing to me. Using the right knife makes a world of difference. And I use it daily. It makes a lot more sense to get the high quality knife versus the $12 Walmart version. But I didn’t feel like I had the option before with all the debt.

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Any time you want to come to Montreal or Toronto, give me a call. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Tim

    I follow the logic of buying good quality items that last over the long haul. Case in point when I graduated university in 2000 I was given a pair of Rockport dress shoes as a gift. I would at the time never paid $160 to $180 plus tax for a pair of shoes at the time, but now 13 years later…I’m still using them almost daily. My last cheaper pair of shoes broke down in like two years. So lesson learned…buck the money on quality items that will last for the long haul (depending they might even be cheaper in the long run).

    So from that point of view: I totally support what your doing. I would rather have less better quality items for the long haul. I learned the hard way a few times now.

    Good luck on your shopping.

    Tim

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      BF is now realizing his $300 suits don’t last, and he’s about to fork over money for a good one but can’t get over the mental hump of the cost.

      Me, I’m balking at boots for $1000. I was thinking $500 would be a LOT OF MONEY.. but apparently that gets you “American design, made in Mexico”, at best.

      Reply
  9. anna

    Those pictures of the children are really sad to see. I know that PF blogs are subject to them, but it confuses me when people judge or criticize how people spend their money – everyone’s lists of values and priorities are different, so as long as someone has the means then why should how much someone paid matter? I think it’s great that you’re spending conscientiously not only in terms of health, but with how companies treat their employees.

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Honestly, it brought out some good points about what “frugal” means, and what the heck I am then, if I am not “frugal” by definition, but a conscious spender.

      Reply
  10. Bridget

    Great post.

    I actually had almost an identical experience — I bought one make-up brush that was $50 and my friend thought I was nuts.

    … I would have bought $250 worth if my income was yours 😉

    But same reasons: who makes it and how is very important.

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I’m sick of hairs coming off on my face, and then ruining my makeup by trying to scratch it off.

      Reply
  11. Leslie

    This is why showing “percentage of your income” on your budget is SO IMPORTANT! If it’s <5% of your income, it's not worth worrying about it being a "bad" purchase.

    Reply
  12. tomatoketchup

    I agree with the overall message of this post. Our spending and saving patterns are very similar, and one key aspect of being able to save so much is minimizing or avoiding the big expenses, which for most people are the house and the car. With the big stuff out of the way, all the little things will barely make a dent in one’s overall finances, provided one make a decent income. I hear a lot of my colleagues, many of whom make more money than I do, complain about how their daily finances are strained yet have mortgages on vacation houses and switch cars (financed with loans of course) every 3 years.

    It’s all about priorities. I have no need for a house or a fancy car, so that frees up loads of cash to either save toward retirement or splurge on things I really do want, like a nice point and shoot camera that I recently bought for 3 grand. Expensive, but it’s a quality product made in Japan and built to last, and for me it’s a more useful item than a 4 bedroom house. Kind of like your $600 underwear I guess.

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Most cameras are made in Japan by the way. I’ve noticed that high-end, very delicate instruments are never left to the Chinese (no experience), just as how a Mercedes with German engineering can be a better cost-per-use in the long run over other cheap car brands that start giving out after 5 years, if you want delicate instruments, don’t trust it to those without experience.

      Silk, is nicely made in China (plenty of experience!!!!!), but they’ve taken to soaking the silk in chemicals to make it weigh heavier and feel more expensive, as I found it.

      Reply
  13. alana

    no kidding, that was long winded indeed with the cost per wear justification being of particular note. The chained up children pictures really reiterated your beat up on china point that has been coming out strong lately but I get your point. I’ve always thought it was better to have a few quality pieces in rotation rather than a walk in closet full of constantly in need of replacing cheap clothes. Having attempted to wear quality for like the last few years, I’ve gotten to the point where I’m kinda tired of my same clothes, I want new stuff, new styles, new shapes but cant financially justify getting new stuff since my current clothes are still good quality and fit quite fine. One can always just add more clothes but that would not be in keeping with the minimalist thing. How do you plan to deal with “clothes” fatigue when it hits you?

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      “No kidding” I am hoping the point is hitting home for people, even if you see it as a justification for spending (which is partly is), I’m rather annoyed when the context is not taken into account.

      I’ve been replacing a lot of things, so it’s no wonder it’s really been on my mind lately, and the more I read, the more I get fatigued.

      Clothes fatigue has already hit me. I went to the mall today to help BF find stuff (he needs a new suit, his wore out), and I was just.. sick of it all. I wanted to go home, lie down and never shop for clothes again.

      For me, this is probably the ultimate, #1 barrier to getting more clothes (and I’ve tried them all, to stop shopping).

      Buying ethically is very, VERY hard. If you want to be a minimalist with your wardrobe, stop buying from Third World countries for cheap (unless it’s labeled as fair trade). You’ll be guaranteed to purchase next-to-nothing.

      Reply
  14. Joe

    If you make a lot, there’s nothing wrong with spending a lot, especially if you manage to save $130k some years. Personally, I’d plow ahead year-round while the getting is good but that’s me and obviously, making the money you do, you shouldn’t take my advice anyway.

    If I was super sick, and there was a $600 million panacea to cure me — and they were willing to sell it to me on credit — I’d buy it and declare bankruptcy lol.

    Reply
    1. saverspender

      I can’t plow ahead to get the money if the contracts aren’t there. If people think I’m just sitting around on my ass doing nothing all day, they’re wrong. I’m trying my best to get a contract but if companies are worried about the economy and are waiting, I don’t have any choice but to wait.

      Reply
  15. RC

    So you went to visit China but neglected to see the parts where children get tied up? Did you ride a rickshaw, taking in the wonder of all you see and may any mind to the people working to help make your visit oh so magical? You’re justifying a lifestyle that shows you obviously earn and spend more than you give back.

    Reply
    1. saverspender

      Had I known what I do now (recently) when I had gone to China, it would have made me open up my eyes, although I saw a lot of poverty there, far worse than what I thought I’d see.

      As for going to a factory, they’re located in the outskirts of China. I went to Beijing and Shanghai, not the countryside.

      My visit wasn’t magical, it as horrific and I couldn’t wait to leave after 2 weeks. But still. I went to see what it was like.

      If you had bothered to read anything in my previous posts (obviously not, just a brand new reader), you’d realize that I pretty much hated the country after visiting it. I have a Travel series coming up in 2014 that shows exactly what I saw, and didn’t expect to see when I was there. Poverty beyond belief, cars driving on sidewalks ruining the safety of pedestrians, children without much to eat.. and that was in the nice cities of Beijing and Shanghai.

      Why don’t you show me all of YOUR pictures of where you’ve been in China where you saw children chained up? Oh you don’t have any?

      Hmm. Sounds like someone didn’t go to China.

      By your comments, you’ve pretty much proven that you don’t know what you’re saying. I do. I’ve actually been there and I’ve just recently discovered a lot more that I had not realized while visiting the country.

      Reply
  16. eemusings

    It’s all relative. You make damn good money, so your spending would need to be pretty extravagant to make ‘princess’ territory.

    Reply
    1. saverspender

      My point was more “relative income and expenses”, not based on what other people are spending.

      If that were the case, then I should be living on the IRS budget of $534 a month for everything but housing.

      Reply
  17. Ayla

    Do you have any better sources for the “chaining up children” thing other than the Daily Mail? I mean, if I’m going for credibility, I don’t link to the Daily Mail…

    Reply
    1. saverspender

      Okay, so don’t believe me or the photos. Why don’t you also tell me that Foxconn is not treating its workers badly, or making them suicidal?

      Are you really that naive to believe that there isn’t an inkling of truth in what they’re writing? Even if it isn’t the whole truth, I saw that parents who worked there, had barely enough time, let alone money for their children. It was POOR, no matter how rich they want to come off as.

      They live in slums, they’re just hidden by the government for tourists so that we don’t discover them.

      Reply
  18. Sarah

    I’m with SP. I’m not going to call you out on your spending because you make plenty of money, but there’s no way I would call you super frugal either. Sure, you might be frugal on the things that you don’t really care about, which is good, but you spend extravagantly on the things that you do spend money on.

    Reply
    1. saverspender

      Which is the whole point of being frugal, is it not?

      Frugal doesn’t equal cheap to me. I always thought it meant conscious spending.

      Otherwise, what would be the point of being cheap and eating fast food all day, if I am going to die of gut rot? That’s “frugal”, isn’t it? Not spending any money as the goal?

      If I wanted to be cheap, then I shouldn’t spend money on anything. I should live like some hermit in the mountains, off berries and water, and only come down for contracts once in a while.

      If I am being frugal, it means I am spending consciously and wisely on what matters to me. I don’t care about stuff to make me or my home smell nice, I care more about what actually goes into my body and gets absorbed into my bloodstream.

      Otherwise, what’s the real word to describe this? Conscious spending based on priorities? Too long.

      Reply
  19. SP

    Sorry, I’m with barb on this. 🙂

    I’m not saying you don’t spend according to your values and save a significant amount of your income, etc., but pauper? So, you don’t buy lattes, but you often splurge on “irregular” extravagant (high quality & often “worth the splurge”!) purchases. Paupers typically can’t afford high quality and they spend according to immediate needs, not their values.

    Perhaps I’m too rigid in my pauper definitions over here. 🙂

    Reply
    1. saverspender

      Yeah perhaps you are too rigid. I was using it more with a good sharp contrast and in relation to my income in mind “princess vs pauper”.

      Reply
  20. AdinaJ

    I’m in the same income bracket as you and, for what it’s worth, I’m not swimming in debt. With a mortgage and kid, I can’t say that I save 75% of my income, but we average 30% of our joint income.

    As for spending, I would probably have the same urge to justify (not that there is something wrong with that), but at the same time I feel that’s pointless. You have the money to spend, without going into debt or impacting your long-term future, that’s all that ultimately matters. If you’re living within your means, you can call yourself frugal in my books. And still buy that gold-plated underwear 😉 jk

    Reply
    1. saverspender

      I’m not just living within my means, I’m saving it too.

      I don’t even talk about BF’s finances, but if I were to count him in the mix, the numbers would all double.

      Reply
  21. Michelle

    Amen. I agree with you when you first had that post about China. I guess we have the same values. Health is wealth. 🙂 But my friends think I’m crazy when I tell them what I am doing… oh well. I’m not good with words, so I don’t explain my logic to them. Next time, I’ll just point them to this post. 😀

    Reply
    1. saverspender

      I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with being different. Depends on what kind of different. A different attitude for a better lifestyle or change, makes more sense to me.

      Reply
  22. Mike Holman

    Bras cost $160??

    Reply
    1. Sarah

      In Canada, I paid $100-150 per bra, plus taxes. In the States, I can pay $60 for the same bra. So I separate out my bras and underwear spending since bras are so expensive…

      Reply
      1. saverspender

        Bras are RIDICULOUSLY expensive here. I mean, I can’t even believe they get away with charging that much for a bra.

        Unless you go to Victoria’s Secret to pay $30 for some padded, flimsy piece of crap that will stretch out, a good bra costs money, as I found out while visiting Secrets from My Sister.

        Reply
        1. fabulouslyfrugirl

          I’ve heard some good things about Secrets from my Sister! Will need to check them out as I bought a few new bras from VS last year which are all stretched out now. lesigh.

          Reply
    2. saverspender

      Oh Mike. Why don’t you go ask your wife to visit “Secrets from your Sister” with $20 and see how she does to come out with anything.

      Yep. $160. Unless you go to very cheap shops like Victoria’s Secret or Pink (where I used to go), they are pretty expensive because they know that women need them and want a higher quality. The most expensive ones are made in France.

      Reply
    3. Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle

      A bra is a complicated piece of structural engineering that has to be soft, comfortable, durable and pretty at the same time.

      You pay for lasting quality.

      Reply
      1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

        I hear they employ engineers to help figure out the construction of a bra. 🙂

        Reply

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