Over the weekend, I had some interesting conversations with friends and family regarding what people choose to do with their money. Each conversation followed the same pattern:
- Story of being judged, reprimanded, or chastised for a particular purchase.
- Defense of said purchase.
- Judgment of something the other person buys (as proof that they had no right to say anything).
- Statement: “I’m not judging. I don’t care what people buy as long as they don’t talk about me.”
Get out your robe and gavel.
Last Friday I preordered the iPhone 4S. To replace the iPhone 4 that I bought six months ago. There, I said it.
What went through your mind just now? Did you think about something to do with wasteful spending, gadget addiction, the “Apple tax”, or the fact that I’m still in debt? Or maybe you thought, I would never spend money on such an expensive phone, especially if I already had a perfectly good one! You may be picturing me in a whole different way right now, and not necessarily a good one.
That’s okay. I understand why people would have those thoughts; in fact I had them myself before I made the purchase. But I decided that the benefits outweighed the cost. For me. I could spend some time explaining WHY I bought a new iPhone, but it really doesn’t matter. You’ve already made a decision about the worthiness of the purchase, and only a made-up story about saving puppies or curing disease would change your mind.
We ALL make judgments about how people spend money.
I’m not going to lie – I judge people all the time based on the things they buy. When I see someone carrying a Coach bag, for example, I shake my head at all that money thrown down the toilet for a purse. It just cracks me up. Same thing when I walk into a friend’s house and see the massive TV overcrowding her tiny living room. Yet I’ll drop hundreds of dollars for the ability to communicate and surf the web from my pocket.
Some people get bent out of shape if someone thinks they’re wasting money. They wear themselves out defending what they bought and trying to convince everyone that the purchase made sense.
Personally, I don’t get too excited about that kind of thing. As long as my friends aren’t borrowing MY money to spend on craziness, does it really matter what they buy? Sure, I may have my opinions about their choices, but that doesn’t mean I have to share those thoughts with my friends.
When judgment is warranted.
There is one time when I feel it’s appropriate to call someone out on their spending – when it prevents them from paying their bills or reaching important financial goals.
If someone tells me they can’t afford their mortgage payment, yet they’re carrying a $500 handbag and talking on an expensive phone AND I know the items weren’t gifts (or purchased during better financial times), you better believe I’m going to get ALL KINDS of judge-y. To the person’s face. Don’t complain to me about your problems when you’re exacerbating them with stupid spending.
But if you’re on top of your finances and you’re not using credit to pay for your stuff? I’ll just privately think you’re silly and be on my way.
What do you value?
I value technology. I love devices that make my life easier and less frantic. I hate saying, “I’ll check that out when I get home,” or “I’ll email that to you when I get a chance.” Because five minutes later I’ve already forgotten.
I DO NOT value high-end clothing, jewelry, or handbags. I don’t need a huge house or luxury car. I don’t have to spend holidays in another country to feel satisfied with my life. But it’s no skin off my back if other people do.
Do you judge people based on what they buy? What do you spend on that earns judgment from others?