There is a lot of talk that has gone on for years in the personal finance (PF) or debt-free community (DFC) on various platforms.
It all boils down to these 3 variations on a theme:
Luxury = Stupid
Luxury = Bad
Luxury = Waste of Money
If you go against that grain, like I do, and spend money freely on stuff people consider wasteful ….most money people are appalled.
They do a double-take, and are sputtering..:
But.. But.. WHY?
Why would you waste your money on a brand new luxury car that loses its value once you drive it off the lot, and depreciates? THE BEST TIME to buy it is after 3 years, bla bla bla…
Why would you possibly spend $2000 on a clothing item when you could invest it instead?
Why would you go out to eat in a fancy restaurant? FOOD AT HOME IS JUST AS GOOD.
My answer is always:
Because I can.*
Because I want to.
Because life isn’t just about hoarding money.
*Without going into debt. I do NOT agree with buying anything with debt unless you have thought long and hard about it, this goes for student loans, cars, homes, ANYTHING.
I used to be anti-Luxury
I used to think luxury was a waste of money especially when I was penny-pinching and getting out of debt.
I was SO MILITANT and SURE of myself when I was in my 20s, that it was such a waste for designer anything, omg did they really spend $2000 on a coat?
I thought (smugly) that dressing down, in the cheapest stuff, being anti-Luxury and anti-Consumerism was the way to go. The only true path to being seen by society as a money-minded, responsible person.
But as I started getting older, and wiser.. but mostly richer, I thought:
F&#* ALL THAT THINKING.
I started seeing a real benefit to luxury, especially my weakness — luxury in style and clothes.
I started seeing how much better I looked, and felt, clothed in luxury. Yes, I could easily wear a $50 coat and stay as warm as in a $2000 coat, but which one makes me FEEL better? Which one makes me LOOK better?
I also started spending more on clothing, but have since pulled back in recent years to trim down and refocus my luxury laser beams onto SECONDHAND items rather than new.
Buy less, buy it used, but of the highest quality you can afford.. and most of all, ENJOY IT.
Success Story = Being ‘cured’ of Luxury
I have also heard people being very proud of being ‘cured’ of the luxury bug.
(I am obviously, not one of them.)
They talk about how they used to be into luxury cars, clothes, whatever, and now they live simply.
They focus on what is essential to them and their lives. They focus on what REALLY COUNTS (family, friends etc), instead of material things. /tiny bit of sarcasm
With all this talk you’d think they joined a cult, and in some ways, they kind of have. The Cult of Frugalness.
Their Idol by the way is either Ingvar Kamprad of IKEA or Warren Buffett. Both, famously cheap.
If it works for them – GO FOR IT.
But does it really? I wonder.
I used to be part of that Cult, and I was quite unhappy with not feel free to go to Starbucks daily in fear of being punished by the money gods, or the freedom to lust after things I wanted, like expensive dresses or shoes.
If they found that they really don’t give AF about clothes or cars or shopping, and they’ve come to terms with preferring to see their money in their bank accounts growing like crazy, all the better for them.
… but where it gets really tricky and dangerous is that it is not indicative or a be-all and end-all of what a “fiscally responsible person” should act like.
That’s the part I am not kosher with.
(I don’t really care what they do or don’t do with their money in the end – save or spend – it is theirs.)
What I care about is making other people feel bad for wanting luxury and craving it.
And you can believe me when I tell you that in this tiny community of money-minded folks (most people suck at managing or saving money), I am in the tiny minority of a minority.
You can be completely 100% money-minded and still enjoy luxury
I am extremely responsible with my money by all counts, no one can deny this. I save a good chunk of my money, I meet my goals, I have triple the net worth of a “high achiever” for my age, and am fiscally crushing it.
And yet, I like luxury and all of its cousins.
Does that make me immediately a stupid, wasteful person?
No. I’m hooman. I like nice things. *shrug*
I don’t want to be cured of the Luxury bug
I get chills when I walk into a GREAT gastronomic restaurant, get seated, have wonderful service, and they bring out everything you can imagine, perfectly plated and presented. Then the flavours.. oh my.
That’s not to say I don’t also enjoy a hole-in-a-wall bowl of noodles at my favourite restaurant for $11.50, but I can truly appreciate luxury at its finest.
I enjoy seeing the atmosphere bedecked out in perfectly architected and designed curves, or with a finesse or elegance that makes you say: WOW.
I enjoy eating well and being treated well. All of that is worth paying that price tag to me.
Luxury has the power to change the way we feel, which affects the way we act
All of this luxury, is what makes life for me, worth living, even if they are little luxuries like going with your reusable mug (AHEM AHEM) to pick up your daily coffee at an overpriced coffee chain.
Or the fact that I feel like a completely different person when I am dressed to the nines than if I am schlepping around in a simple sundress and sandals.
When I feel powerful in an amazing well made dress (doesn’t need to cost $$$$$), my whole attitude is different. I walk differently, nay I GLIDE, doors get held open for me, people treat me better, and everything turns rosy in my world which let’s face it, makes me a nicer person even though I can be really thorny if I want to be.
See this dress? Cost $4000 at retail. I paid $110.
You can wear luxury, and own it, for a fraction of the cost when it is secondhand, and I STILL feel the effects of it, because this dress is bangin’.
If Luxury is a bunch of BS, why is it still around?
If we were all meant to save money which is the ‘correct’ thing to do and pinch pennies, or never pay for services that make our lives easier (taxicabs, house cleaners, nannies, daycares, daily coffees, pedicures… I could go on, really), wouldn’t that just mean that there would be NO luxury market?
Clearly something doesn’t add up for me.
There is a GROWING market of wealth workers who ‘serve’ the 1%, and even the 10%, frankly.
I am in that range, that group of people who pay for pedicures in a non-stinky salon that is more organic and fresh than full of chemicals where the workers wear face masks, and will pay for bi-weekly massages for my back because I used to think of it as a luxury, but now I see it is an affordable (for me) medical necessity.
Or staying and visiting high-end spas.
So if luxury is a bunch of BS why do rich people still go for it over the cheap stuff?
I am talking RICH people.
Not just a single million or two, but multi-millionaires. Not all of them are carrying plastic bags as their lunch bags, or driving tiny little 20-year old used lemons.
There is a subset of people who are spending it, and enjoying it.
There is a luxury in choosing to do any of the following:
- Fly first class (I only did it once out of urgency and I still remember the experience)
- Stay in a decent hotel (I have stayed in MOTELS so I appreciate this more than you know)
- Saunter into a cafe and pay to have a daily coffee with your newspaper, and maybe a little breakfast
- Buy and wear designer or status labels – doesn’t need to be full-priced or new, either, as I can attest to
- Eat in high-end restaurants, and enjoy, pick apart and savour every bite instead of just eating for fuel
- Slide and drive a luxurious automobile that feels great when you’re in it – spacious, soft, not cramped, and like a second home
- Paying for all-access passes to skip the long lines at events and the like
I am sure you can think of plenty more.
Choose what matters to you!
I choose to NOT go to a hair salon and get my hair cut or blowouts. I cut my own hair at home for $0 because I personally do not have high-maintenance hair, nor do I see or feel like I need an expensive haircut to feel awesome.
Instead, I paid for an luxurious $800 for a Dyson Airwrap, and curl my hair constantly. This alone, has the power to make me feel so polished and stylish when my hair is curled, and has the added bonus of covering up my at-home haircuts. LOL.
On the one hand, I am cheap AF. I cut my own hair at home.
On the other hand, I didn’t buy a $100 cheapie hairstyler, I splurged on the massive kit and couldn’t be happier.
See how nice my hair is now?
Another personal example is taxicabs or parking.
I CHOOSE not to pay for it if possible. I’d rather walk kilometres and take the subway than to pay for a cab or parking. I truly loathe either option, I do not see a benefit in it because my time, although precious, is not as precious as wasting $60 on a cab ride when I could walk and get exercise instead.
Some of you are horrified right now because you think I cannot possibly be serious, but believe me I am. I will drive to an appointment a half hour early to find free street parking.
I do not spend on parking or on cabs lightly. If I do, I am ballin’, I really am. (Plus, cab drivers drive like maniacs and make me nauseous.)
I see what is important TO ME and I focus on that, but I am not fine with communities of folks decrying that luxury is a waste and we should all wear linen smocks and do penance with olive branches, save every single spare penny we have and live without luxury.