Money = Your Life

Monday, June 14, 2004
People spend too much money. At least in America they do. We are a nation in love with debt. We love to buy things on credit because it seem to cost no money. We figure we can always pay for it later when we have that mythical better paying job that never seems to materialize.

The people who are the most in debt seem to be the people who can least afford it or who hate their jobs the most. Maybe spending money they don't have makes these people feel better about themselves? I'm not sure but whatever it is I've never really understood it.

But don't these people realize what spending the money they earned actually means? Think about it. You earn your money by working at a job. Whether it is sititng in front of a computer all day or flipping burgers you are paid to spend time doing something when you would probably rather be doing something else. Now lets say you earn $10/hour. Now you decide you need to treat yourself so you go buy a brand new pair of shoes that cost you $80. You just speant 8 hours of your life earning that pair of shoes. For most people that is one day of their lives. You are basically equating that pair of shoes to be worth one day of you sitting in front of the computer bored out of your mine. Was it really worth it?

I'm not saying don't buy things that make you happy. By all means, spend all your money on whatever you want. Next time you want to complain about your job though, remember, at least you have those nice pair of shoes.


Jen said...

Unfortunately, advertising does a good job of convincing people that their life will be that much cooler if they buy $100 sneakers, or clothes made by rappers, or cars that hug curves tightly. For many, living outside their means is the onle way to give the perception that they are in a higher station in life than they actually are.

Credit card companies prey on the uninformed and peniless. They send them (literally) blank checks and promise an end to debt and easy access to Plasma TVs.

People are always responsible for managing their finances properly, so I'm not suggesting that people are irreparably stupid and should be saved from themselves. However, I do wish that personal finance courses be required in high schools for graduation.

Kat said...

"For many, living outside their means is the onle way to give the perception that they are in a higher station in life than they actually are."

well said jennifer. interestingly, this is what i am writing my thesis on.

Amanda said...

Ooh, I'd love to read that thesis! I think our media creates a false sense of expectation, and presents a distorted picture of American life. Most Americans do not, in fact, attempt to "keep up with the Joneses" because they see far more of the Cosbys, the Friends, and other fictional televised family groups than they ever see of their own neighbors - and they know those fictional families better, too! Our love of mass media has cleverly turned our frame of reference from the people around us to the too-perfect images in front of us on TV. When people compare their lives to the thousands of images of "average" American life that they see every day, they are bound to feel that their life is lacking. Just take a look at the exterior shots of "average" middle class homes on TV sitcoms and dramas. A lot of those houses are located in L.A. but if you actually want see them in person, you will have to go to Bel Air, Brentwood or Santa Monica - areas in which few average middle class Americans can afford to live. "Average" in the media is always just a few $K a year more than the real American average and comparison is a suckers' game that no average American can ever hope to win.