In Discussions, Money

What smart money people do and do not spend their money on and why I think it’s BS

There is always an article out there with screaming headlines of what are the ‘proper’ things to spend money on, and what money smart people would NEVER waste their money on.

Even before I read it, I know the list will say that they don’t buy cars used (OMG NO! DEPRECIATION!), they don’t buy fancy designer clothes/shoes, and weddings are low-key and cheap.

Am I wrong? Nope. I just came across this article in Business Insider – 7 Things people good with money never buy  – and I basically hit the jackpot in my predictions above.

What’s the big deal with denouncing cars, luxury items and weddings?

The reason why I was able to make such prescient predictions about what “money smart people” do and don’t do, is that I used to think that way when I was younger, AND it is basically all I read on money-centric blogs, and money-centric Instagram accounts.

See, I used to be that person…

When I first started out learning how to manage my money, I followed these lists to a T.

I only bought crappy used cars (mostly minivans as they were the only ones large enough for me not to get sick in while driving, and were the cheapest versus SUVs), paying no more than $10K for my last car before I bought the new one (yes, brand spanking new *gasp*) I own now.

I basically snorted at the idea of a wedding, and rings that would and could even cost over $100. To be honest, even today, I still sort of am not on board with wearing such an expensive ring, even $1000 or more, for a few reasons:

  • I’d personally rather use the money elsewhere
  • I am not into wearing such flashy jewellery and would feel uncomfortable especially at work wearing such a ring
  • Am not sure the ordinary Joe or Jane could tell whether it was a real diamond or a crystal, to be honest
  • I’d be scared of losing it

…but I completely one hundred percent, acknowledge that this is VERY important to some people that they give their future spouses a very expensive ring to show how much they are devoted to them, and how much they value them, and that some spouses expect it because it is a symbol for them and their love.


I get it.

I also get that you want your friends and family to enjoy the day, so you splash out on it. All perfectly fine with me, and the memories you have from such a once-in-a-lifetime event are priceless as well.

And I support anyone who wants to spend their money that way because it makes them feel so much better and valued — that is what clothing/style does for me, so who am I to judge?

Speaking of which, for stylish luxury items – you can tell how much I am into designer things these days, but looking at QUALITY items, and they are pretty much always purchased secondhand.

The only designer items I have ever purchased at retail, were my two Burberry coats. One of which I had to sell because my shoulders expanded after Little Bun, and the second, I still wear to this day.

I feel AMAZING in these pieces. I put them on and strut taller, feel more confident, smile more, and gain so much pleasure from a great piece than if I had to wear something that was simply practical and functional.

Other than that, all of my goods are secondhand these days, designer or not.

It’s just better value for the money, and I don’t mind waiting for a unique or vintage piece that makes it even more special.

I’d also rather pay $50 for a pair of Burberry pants rather than $40 for a pair of Zara pants. The resale value is higher, and even used, Zara pants are not worth more than $10 – $20 at resale.

Now? I am over this holier-than-thou attitude.

It’s all you’re going to read – how dumb you must be to pay for a new car, to spend on a lavish wedding, to do this and that with YOUR money no less.

You know what? If they have the money, saved and paid for it in cash, it means they are smart enough to have saved their money to do so, and your opinion means less than nothing to them.

They’re choosing what they want to spend their money on, and that is ALL what smart money management is all about.

You can’t tell people that they aren’t smart at managing their money if they were able to buy a $100K brand new car in cash, or it’s a waste of money to have saved and pinched pennies just to have a lavish wedding with all of their friends and family, then turn around, and talk about how you spent thousands on a fancy vacation.

Smart money management is that you are able to:

  • Stack money in the bank for rainy days and emergencies
  • Invest it for the long-term – and in many cases, max out retirement accounts
  • Buy and pay for a home that is affordable
  • Pay cash for what you want and not feel the hurt

… so where does how you decide to spend the rest of your money come into play?

Buying a $2000 purse can bring someone a lot of pleasure to use it daily, as spending $2000 on a vacation.

In both cases, I am assuming they saved for this purchase, and derive great value and pleasure from each purchase.

Money is money, but apparently how you choose to spend that $2000 is up for discussion / derision and judgement by the entire money community, which I am totally over.

This is why I have not been a ‘money blog’ for such a long time, I just find it all so sanctimonious and judgmental at times.


Not all money blogs or money ‘grammers are like this, but the general feeling I get these days, is pure fatigue from watching them list their debt payoffs which are very motivational and inspirational but not part of my current life, so I gain no pleasure from reading it, or how much they saved on groceries, or what they did to not spend ANY MONEY AT ALL during the month –> partly interesting, I am curious to know how people spend $0 and yet have fun.

What’s the point of it all?

So you have $100K saved by the time you’re 25.

What’s the point if you are doing it alone, living at home, aggressively pursuing early retirement when you have barely even started working, and are not engaging in social networks by being out with your friends or having a boy/girlfriend because they cost more money than staying single?

What’s the point of this saved money, I ask.

What do you want to do with it? How does it change your life?

Does it make you feel accomplished, bring status in a debt-free/money community that you are a millionaire by 30?

Who makes up these money rules and decides whoever reaches them is a boss and all the others are trash?

It is so arbitrary to think that if you aren’t a millionaire by 40, you’re a loser. Why 40? Why not 50? 60?

And really, who cares about it, other than you? I would be happy if my friends became millionaires and I would congratulate them, but they are the only ones who will be the happiest that they have reached their own personal goals to be millionaires by a certain age.

Not me. It’s not my money!

I see money as a tool, as a way to use it to spend it on things you want to spend it on (nice car, big house, etc), and as a way to squeeze pleasure out of life.

What pleasure can be really had by being a foodie but saying “No” to dinner invitations to nice restaurants serving gastronomic food you are unlikely to be able to make at home, just because you feel sick or ashamed in spending $100 on a once-in-a-lifetime meal?

To me, it’s an experience. Go for it. SPEND THAT MONEY. Take pictures. Rave about the meal for the rest of your life (I know I would if I ended up at The French Laundry)…

Your priorities for your money are not my priorities

..and beauty of it all, is that you get to spend your money where you want, and I get to spend mine where I want.

My point is that we are STILL both good at managing our money.

Even though I bought a new car that rapidly depreciated the minute I drove it off the lot but I gain a lot of intrinsic pleasure in driving it each time I get into the car and marvel, and you decided to spend only $1000 on your wedding day instead of $50K.

You gained pleasure from saving that money and not spending $49K, and I gained pleasure from spending my money and driving a car I now am eager to get into and use, rather than before when I would dread going anywhere.

As you saved your $49K, I have also saved my money while spending it on what I want, amassing at the time of this post, over $840K by the age of 36.

And I still enjoy paying hundreds of dollars for a bag or a coat that is designer but secondhand, and wearing said item, whereas you might scoff at it, and pick up a $10 used parka at a thrift store with a $5 purse and wear it to death – this is not something I am opposed to, thrifting, but it is harder / rarer to find designer items in a thrift store, try as I might, although some cities are enviably flush with designer goods unlike mine.

Sure, I have a higher income and tons more room shall we say, to shift my money around and ‘waste’ it as you call it, but I could have wasted all of it and saved nothing, like many of my colleagues who are older and still saddled with mortgages into their 60s, spending without conscious consideration.

Ultimately, we all spend on what we want to spend on and as long as we are saving, we are financially plodding along and ahead, who’s to say what is right or wrong with YOUR money?

Think about it.

Meet your own personal money goals.

Spend it wisely with conscious consideration.


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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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6 Comments

  1. R
    ReadingSSS

    Thanks for this post, Sherry. I, too, loathe the judgmental filter through which so many money bloggers and instagrammers view other people’s spending. The sanctimony turns me off. I used to have a friend I admired for her frugal ways. She saved $1k/month even when she was basically unemployed. One day I realized, watching her interact with her boyfriend, that she views every interaction with other people as a financial transaction. She wasn’t judgmental toward my spending priorities or anyone else’s, but her values diverged sharply from mine. She kept losing boyfriends and friends, including, eventually, me. I’m sure she’s saved over $1 million by now, but, as you say, to what end?

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      To what end indeed. Your life is your own…. You can choose to spend on what you want. I recently saw a skirt for $435 and wanted it (of course I can afford it) but decided not to buy it because it was far too expensive… and I had many other skirts already. I made a choice. BUT if I didn’t have a bunch of skirts, I’d have snapped it up in a heartbeat.

      Reply
  2. l
    liteadventurer

    The only thing that annoys me is when people spend their money on unnecessary stuff and then either can’t pay their bills properly or constantly complain about how poor they are. I knew a guy who bought a massive brand new Hummer and then had problems paying his child support on time. He was an idiot in many regards, so I wasn’t surprised.

    As long as you’ve got the money, spend it on whatever makes you happy.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      That drives me crazy that someone can buy an expensive car but then not cover for his own child. You’re just hurting the child, really. The relationship you have with them as well..

      Reply
  3. K
    Kellie @ Big Style Finance

    You’re right, money’s not actually worth anything at all if you never spend it. I prefer to see frugality as a tool I can use to make sure I don’t spend too much on things that don’t really matter that much to me, so I CAN spend a lot on things that do.

    Reply

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