Save. Spend. Splurge.

Should we all just live like we’re poor?

That’s the way I feel, every time I read or hear someone gasp:

OH MY GOD that is SO expensive.

I could spend that $700 on my rent instead of having bought an iPad! FOR SHAME.


It makes me feel guilty when I look back at my spending and compare it to what PF bloggers are spending online.

I think: Who am I to spend that kind of money?!!

Then I look at people in my own life (non-PF folks), and people on TV, and I think: Wait.. but I’m nowhere near what they spend. I’m downright stingy compared to them. 

I think guilt is definitely a wasted emotion (Nietzsche), because I earned every penny I have of my net worth and I can spend it the way I want, within my own standards of “reasonable”.




No matter what we make, should we all eat food that is on sale, and live like we’re poor, just because it isn’t “right” for us to have that kind of disposable income to spend?

Should I always feel guilty when I buy a $3000 laptop because I want it, even though for someone it’s 3 months of their rent?


Photograph I took of an open-air market in Beijing

Or maybe I should stop eating organic and/or good food and start buying $1 canned beans to eat on rice from the dollar store instead?

Where does it end? What’s the “limit” for good and proper ways to dispense of money?

The answer is that there is no good and proper way to spend your money, and that is the part that I have the real problem with — the judging without context of what people earn and how they decide to spend it.


Sure, you’re poking at me for spending $3000 on what you think is an overpriced iSomething laptop, but while you’re haranguing me in your head about all the good things YOU could have done with MY $3000, you didn’t do any of the following in the meantime:

  • Negotiate your annual salary, possibly leaving $10,000 – $30,000 on the table
  • Negotiate at your annual review, possibly leaving a 2% raise for someone else
  • Think about whether or not you need a car at all and if you could take the bus instead
  • Avoid buying a home more than 2X your annual income because a home is not just the mortgage
  • Spend time cooking at home and bringing your lunch to work on a daily basis
  • Aim to save 50% of your income

Oh wait.

But these are all things that I did and still on MY own time, before I bought all my fancy iSomethings.

Look, I am not saying that I’m awesome at saving money on all fronts, but enough with the shaming.

If I have the money, if I am not in debt, and I have saved well beyond what is expected, I can spend my money however I damn well want.

I do things that I already know are within my grasp. I am not spending my money stupidly, I’m spending it the way I want to live my life.

For instance, since I’m not rich, I don’t need to fly first class* when I book my seats, and I take the bus instead of owning a car that I don’t really need.

*Actually, even if I become a millionaire, I am not sure I’d ever feel the need to fly first class because buying those exit row seats is a luxury in and of itself…

I’d rather save the money, and create what I think is an ideal, reasonable budget for spending, no matter what my income is…. for me.

That’s right, a reasonable budget for my lifestyle, and what I like to do and spend money on.


Relative to your net worth, relative to your income, look at the percentages.

Someone who is $30,000 in student debt, going out and YOLO*’ing on a new car, an iPad, and what have you, is going to get flack versus someone who is not in debt, and has the saved money above and beyond their retirement accounts to spend.

If I bought a car for $10,000 which is 5% of my net worth (YIKES!) compared to someone who was $30,000 in debt, who buys the same car for $10,000, it is a NEGATIVE 1/3 of their net worth or – 33%.

(The moot point is not whether or not we actually need the car in the first place, I’m just looking at the numbers here as a percentage.)

The truth is when your net worth is in the negatives (meaning you can’t clear your debt in one fell swoop, and aren’t using it as leverage to get more money), you don’t really have disposable income to spare.

When you are wondering how you’ll make it to the next week for groceries on your paycheque, but then you go and buy the newest iPhone, then you don’t have the money to spare.

*YOLO = “You only live once”, invented by those who say it because they are justifying an expense and/or don’t want to save for retirement, live on less and/or clear their debt.

Hence the “personal” in personal finance.


I bought a Longchamp bag for $100 in Paris (but it really costs $200 in Canada), and I find it’s very durable (I put 3 heavy laptops in there once), as well as practical, light, and easy to fold up and use.

I can use it in the rain, when I go to the grocery store, or the market, and basically any time I need a large errands-to-run purse but don’t want to use my leather ones for whatever reason.


My very practical Longchamp

Someone else who looks at the bag may think that it’s worth $35 to them, and think I’m stupid for spending my money when it could have gone to something better.

The personal part of that spending, comes in when you realize the following:

  • That Longchamp Pliage bag (for me), has more than paid its cost with cost-per-use. I am down to pennies now.
  • It cost 0.05% of my net worth
  • If I need to ever replace it in 10-20 years, I can buy them used for less than $100 from consignment shops.


Personal finance and money management IS personal, but there’s also a minimum that everyone should adhere to, and that’s not to spend money you don’t already have to spend.

Although when I say “personal” in Personal Finance, there are minimums of when people go to far.

I absolutely agree that there are clearly stupid things with your money like buying a car that costs you 60% of your income each month, going on a splashy vacation when you’re deep in debt or giving money away to charity when you haven’t steadied your own finances to be able to do so.

Or perhaps extremes at the other end, like refusing to buy clothing because you don’t want to spend money, or trying to spend as little as possible on everything in your life because you don’t want to waste money.

However once we get past all that and we’re able to save and invest our money diligently, and are on the path to a solid retirement plan, I don’t see what the big deal is with spending money — that’s what it’s there for.

At the end of the day, my money is mine, and yours is yours to do with what you wish.

If you want to spend time taking freezing cold showers to save money so you can retire early, or if you want to spend your savings on a new Macbook Pro, be my guest — it’s your money after all, not mine.


  • Rich Uncle EL

    Yes many Pf bloggers are quick to judge and write about it. I am trying my best to stay away from expressing things in that manner. If in debt live like your poor only to get out of it is what I believe. Then when your free you can enjoy things better.

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life

    Personal finance is absolutely personal. My budget splurges are going to be completely different than yours or anyone elses. As long as EVERYTHING isn’t a splurge, we’re in good shape.

  • Heather

    Great points! Excellent article!

  • Sandra

    Ah, Mochimac, I think I kind of needed to hear this today. I usually save pretty hard, but lately I ravaged my savings account for not one, but TWO short but expensive courses. Spending a good chunk of money like this was actually quite scary since I’ve been in the habit of being frugal lately. But I think I have to take courage from your attitude here. I can afford it, so I will spend it! Fingers crossed the courses will eventually benefit my career too, so I’ve been trying to see it as an investment as much as a splurge.
    But I need to realize, a splurge from a position of financial security is no harm from time to time!

  • Michael | The Student Loan Sherpa

    Fantastic article and a great message. I think being smart about your finances requires looking at the big picture. Clearly your big picture is working out for you, so there is no reason to judge each and every purchase.

    I suggest that people actually have a budget for fun/frivolous things. If you are treating yourself from time to time, keeping everything else on a budget will work. Saving a bunch of money for one month than “falling off the wagon” is useless. Having a plan that works in the long run is the key to healthy finances. Your plan works, don’t let others judge you or feel guilty.

  • Tania

    I haven’t been writing much lately on the blog (nerve back issues) but getting ready to get rolling again and I was going to write about having a good strong nylon bag as an essential piece using my Longchamp as an example. I have the Planetes style. Yes, I’ve seen barely used second hand le pliage for ~$70, the large size. I recently sold my 15 year old small size and a more recent large size so I could get the black Planetes which suits me better now.

    Agree with you, no PF blogger guilt! It’s pointless. Someone once mentioned to me how could I take so much photography classes last year and I told them I cut back on traveling that year. We all prioritize things differently and everyone has something they indulge in, it’s just different things. I see so much judgement on the internet in general and it’s a waste of time. Learning from each other but applying to our own life is so much more productive.

  • Lila

    No matter what you choose to do with your money someone will have an opinion about it and tell you how you really “should” use it.

    I respect your decision to have a PF blog and I suspect you get a lot of criticism for the things you choose to share with us. I decided a long time ago to not judge how someone uses their money.

    I figured…their money, their business.

  • lyle @ the Joy of Simple

    “PERSONAL FINANCE IS PERSONAL” – This was going to be the crux of my comment so I’m glad that you pointed it out in your wonderful post!

    I actually am poor if you go by the economic guidelines of my country – Canada – but I live like a king compared to many around me. And I do so because I do not reference my spending by what others may think of me. If I wanted an iPad, which I don’t for purely ethical and personal reasons, I would buy one regardless if others thought I was “crazy” to do so.

    Our lives are just that, OUR lives and unless your spending the money you have for rent on a new video gaming console, or $3000 computer, then more power to you!!

    Take care and thanks again for a great read. All the best.


  • Debt Blag

    Wow…I wish I was a fatcat who could afford $1 cans of beans. Nothing but $0.25 pouches of dry lentils for me. But I guess some people just care more about being frugal than others.

    Wait, in all serious, I’ve said it before that not prioritizing to spend on things I value wouldn’t just make me a soulless robot — it would be totally unsustainable.

  • Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans


    I hate when people are so quick to judge my financial decisions when they haven’t even looked at their own.

  • maria@moneyprinciple

    Mochimac, I think that nobody should live as a poor person. Money is to nourish our lives and we are the only judges as to what nourishes it. I did also buy a $100 bag in Bulgaria (wonderful Italian designer bag that will serve me well when travelling for business) and some may say that this is a bit excessive: but it would have cost me probably about $250 in the UK, I feel really good using it (in fact it is so fine I am still a bit apprehensive of using it :)) and…well, it nourishes my life.

    Frugal can be cheap and cheap is over-rated!

  • Budget and the Beach

    Your “purse” is my grocery category, meaning I don’t do a lot of compromising when it comes to my grocery budget. It’s higher than most people’s but I’m OK with that for the most part (save for a few random purchases I’m trying to cut back on). Some people would gasp, but I hardly ever eat out or spend money on clothes, or shoes, or cable. The only time I’d say something was stupid is if it’s not in someone’s budget at all to be spending money on something that was a want…like if they go into debt doing it. But I think we can all agree on that!

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Gah. *guilty* Wait until you see what I spent in August.

      I’m good with spending more in one category as long as the others are cut back. I don’t have a lot of other major bills, namely a car, so I have more flexibility with my cash I think.

  • Joshua from CNA Finance

    Ha! I would love to save 50% of my income, but with my budget, that just wouldn’t work! As far as living like we’re poor…not a chance! Of course, we should stick to a budget, but not taking advantage of what you’ve worked so hard for doesn’t make too much sense to me. Thanks for the great read!

  • femmefrugality

    Oh, I agree so much. It’s all about what your priorities are. If I have an underfunded retirement account, that iPad is taking away from something more important to me. If I’m fully funded, who cares? If I look at it in terms of my children’s education, I’d rather put it there than on an iPad. But not everyone has kids, and not everyone plans to save for them to go to school. If I look at it in terms of travel, that’s a couple of tickets to a slew of possible places in this hemisphere. I’d rather take the tickets. But if I really wanted an iPad and I valued it over those trip tickets and my savings was well-funded, whose freaking business is that? No one’s. Not even the haters.

  • Tammy R

    Mochimac, you never disappoint! I do believe that we all get to spend our money however we want, but it behooves us to have it first. I wish I could say I’ve always done that, but I’m happy to say I’ve turned it around and love to see that “old me” getting smaller in the rearview mirror!

  • MakintheBacon

    A friend of mine got me a(fake) Longchamp bag as a gift. I had no idea they were in style until I saw a store in one of the airports selling them. Then I started to notice other women were using that bag. That shows you how much am I in with fashion. 😛

    I don’t know if all Longchamp bags are like this or if it is because mine is fake, but I hate the fact that there is only one tiny pocket in the bag. The rest of it is like this giant void and I’m constantly fishing around for certain items in the bag because there are no separate compartments. I need my separate compartments.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      They aren’t necessarily “in style”, as they are a staple fashion bag that has been around for a while. I just find it super practical….I didn’t get the appeal until I had one.

      All Longchamp bags are like that — one stupid, tiny pocket near the top where it is too high and not low enough to really stack your things. ONE STUPID TINY POCKET. .. but that’s why it folds up so nicely.

  • nicoleandmaggie

    Agreed with every part, including the difference between folks who have taken care of themselves before making the expensive purchase and those who haven’t.

  • StackingCash

    What irks me the most is the purchase of a new car. I feel like every hates on that purchase. I do not. Although, I hear that many people have great results in having minimal car problems with used cars, I do not want that headache. Granted a new car can have problems too but it’s easier to deal with when brand new.

  • SarahN

    So… I have pliages, but they’ve not all lasted your projected time. I do use them constantly though (just a word of warning).

    And… first class – well I flew business class, and for me, it was well worth it – for the service, for the sleep (I’m, ahem, not small and feminine), and just the luxury of it. I saved hard and I figured whilst i was single and childfree it was probably the best time (and I had other assets etc). Anyhoo – exit row is nothing like it, IMO. I did do Paris – Dubai – Sydney, not some shorter domestic length flight. There’s no way I’d sleep as I did in an exit row.

    I don’t have an ithing. But it’s ok – I’m ok with you having one :p

  • moneystepper

    i completely agree. As PF bloggers, our target is usually the people in debt or with very little net worth, who have googled a desire to get out of their situation. These are the people we are trying to help.

    Someone who saves 50% of their income every month after putting towards retirement etc can do whatever the hell they like with their money!!

    The key is ensuring as PF bloggers that we make that distinction between people’s situations and the appropriate decision they should take.

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