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Conspicuous Consumption
Old 08-09-2006, 12:42 PM   #1
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Conspicuous Consumption

Interesting two-part blog entry entitled "The Dead End Road of Conspicuous Consumption"

http://tinyurl.com/flfgq

The last paragraph has a link to part 2 of the article.
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption
Old 08-09-2006, 02:20 PM   #2
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption

Link is not working
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption
Old 08-09-2006, 02:47 PM   #3
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption

Worked for me.
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption
Old 08-09-2006, 02:52 PM   #4
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption

ditto
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption
Old 08-09-2006, 03:02 PM   #5
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption

Quote:
Originally Posted by janeofalltrades
Link is not working
Just tried it. Works fine.
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption
Old 08-09-2006, 03:13 PM   #6
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption

Must be on me :P
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption
Old 08-09-2006, 03:48 PM   #7
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption

I find it funny that he totally discounts the fact that people may actually buy a nice car, vacation, or whatever because they really enjoy it.

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Re: Conspicuous Consumption
Old 08-09-2006, 03:53 PM   #8
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption

Quote:
Originally Posted by saluki9
I find it funny that he totally discounts the fact that people may actually buy a nice car, vacation, or whatever because they really enjoy it.
page 2, last paragraph
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption
Old 08-09-2006, 04:12 PM   #9
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption

Quote:
Originally Posted by eridanus
page 2, last paragraph
Sorry, I grown bored by the middle of the second part

Thanks for catching that!

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Re: Conspicuous Consumption
Old 08-10-2006, 04:39 PM   #10
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption

Quote:
Originally Posted by saluki9
I find it funny that he totally discounts the fact that people may actually buy a nice car, vacation, or whatever because they really enjoy it.
Interestingly enough, I was discussing this question with a free-spending co-worker of mine the other day. She said -- and I quote -- that she didn't care if she spent the last penny in her purse as long as she ended up with a pile of toys because it made her feel so good. In response I pointed out that it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy when I save a couple of bucks even though it doesn't make much difference in the grand scheme of things.

So it would be easy to conclude that different people tend to be either on the "spending" or on* the "saving" end of the spectrum because of different personality types. Thus different lifestyles "make them feel good".

However, I distinctly remember the time when I was trying to teach myself to LBYM and it wasn't easy. Heck, it was downright uncomfortable even though I had never been overly fond of toys. It took quite a bit of training (about two years), but eventually I managed to "rewire my brain" so that I would derive pleasure from savings and LBYM, not mindless consumption. Clearly, more research is called for*
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption
Old 08-11-2006, 09:11 AM   #11
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption

Scrooge

I'll take you point, but throw at you another option.

There are some of us who can do both. You don't have to be one way or the other, it's called balance. See, I get made fun of by my coworkers because I bring my lunch with me to work. I probably save about 6 bucks a day and to me it's not that big of a sacrafice.

In addition, although it's hard, I'm learning to forgo by cup of Starbucks in the morning saving me about $12 a week. On top of that, my wife and I have forced ourselves to eat at home 5 nights a week which was huge for her.

One the other hand, there are some luxury items that are totally worth every penny. My wife and I go to Maui for 10 days each winter. We get free tickets from using miles, but it still costs us about $3,000 with car rental, condo, food etc. That being said, it's where we were married, and the planning for the trip gives us something to look forward to all year. I wouldn't give that up unless things got really bad and I had to.

Also, this year I bought a third car as a weekend toy. Yeah, it cost me $25K and I'll only drive it probably 30-40 days all year. But, I get a smile whenever I think about it, and just knowing it's there is worth the extra work I will have to do in order to FIRE.

You don't have to be one or the other.

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Re: Conspicuous Consumption
Old 08-11-2006, 09:36 AM   #12
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption

I have two coworkers who are pretty loose with money, think they're entitled to "the finer things in life", and tend to thumb their noses at me from time to time, because I'm not eating out, going on extravagant vacations buying expensive furniture, etc. They say that those "finer things" in life bring them pleasure. Yet they're always griping about not having enough money, how it's getting impossible to "make it" in this area, falling behind on bills, etc.

Looks like those "finer things" aren't bringing them as much pleasure as they'd like to pretend they are. Truthfully though, they're both kind of miserable, crabby, whiny people who think that life isn't fair to them, so even if they had no money problems, I don't think it would change their personalities one bit.
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption
Old 08-11-2006, 12:42 PM   #13
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption

First of all - EXTRAVAGANT consumption is totally different from CONSPICUOUS consumption. You can buy and enjoy something very fine (and expensive because it's very fine) but be very inconspicuous about it. We definitely spend where we think it adds considerable value or enjoyment to our lives. But we are never conspicuous about it. We don't like other people knowing that we are financially independent.

I feel bad for folks who get caught in the "keeping up with the Joneses" trap, who think that spending money (alone) will buy them happiness. Seems like you have to spend an awful lot of money before you finally figure out that you aren't really much happier than when you were spending considerably less. In fact you might be more miserable due to the burden of servicing debt and having way too many toys/things to take care of.

I'm amazed sometimes at the fantasies some people express about things then thing they need to be happy. I remember one person (not on this forum) who said their ultimate fantasy was to have a huge mansion in some spectacular location. The thing is, I don't think that person had a clue as to how much $$$ it costs to actually own and maintain such a thing. I know people with net worths in the $10M+ range, and that's probably the absolute MINIMUM needed to own and operate such a thing while remaining financially independent (I think the resources would be stretched). I mean - you can RENT and enjoy a villa somewhere beautiful for a couple of weeks without the tremendous capital it takes to actually own and maintain one. Or even better - just rent a suite in some super fancy mansion turned resort.

I guess I just never understood the need to OWN such a thing. Use occasionally - sure. But own?

By the way - when I tried to point out the true costs and question whether realizing such an expensive dream was really going to make someone happy - I was criticized for saying that it "wasn't OK to be rich and own nice stuff". Black and white! Far from it. I own lots of nice stuff that I can afford to maintain without compromising my quality of life.

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Re: Conspicuous Consumption
Old 08-11-2006, 01:43 PM   #14
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrooge
However, I distinctly remember the time when I was trying to teach myself to LBYM and it wasn't easy. Heck, it was downright uncomfortable even though I had never been overly fond of toys. It took quite a bit of training (about two years), but eventually I managed to "rewire my brain" so that I would derive pleasure from savings and LBYM, not mindless consumption.
I guess this is slightly OT to "conspicuous consumption", but I sure have had experience like what you describe here. You have to somehow make the act of not spending give some pleasure by re-framing its meaning. Otherwise, all you experience is the pain of not getting the goodies, and probably not many of us would persevere long seeing it this way. Marketers are always trying to manipulate our attitudes, so in self defense we have to learn to resist that manipulation, and actually to manipulate ourselves in ways that we have decided are positive.

It also helps to have an idea that frugality is morally superior. Even if you deny this idea publicly in the interest of giving an appearance of tolerance, it has its power. Think Brahmin vs. noveau riche.

Ha
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption
Old 08-11-2006, 03:04 PM   #15
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption

RE: REFRAMING

I think the thing that really helps LBYM is being totally and consciously aware of the CHOICES you are making.

Most short-term fun, long-term foolish behavior is based in denial - or at least blissful ignorance.

If you ADMIT exactly what are the long term consequences to your choices, then all of a sudden the perspective changes. You'll make better decisions. Sure - you may choose the shorter term gain instead of the longer term one at times, but you'll do so deliberately and looking at the big picture.

Otherwise people tend to behave like a little child who feels "denied" or deprived when he makes a choice. I suppose this comes from our childhood when someone else made the choices for us and handed out the goodies. But as adults, we have to manage our own "inner child" and lay out the real tradeoffs that we are making.

I notice that when I consciously look at the choices I am making, any feeling of deprivation goes out the window. It's just not an issue. I'm not taking this immediate gratifying thing because I'm looking forward to something better down the road.

In other words the thinking is more like - "Gosh, I would love this toy X, but it's really going to cost me Y in terms of consequences". Then you can make an informed decision as to whether you want to pay that cost.

A lot of people see cost of things only in $$$ terms. Things often cost a lot more than $$$. They cost in time, effort, maintenance, space, distraction. You have to take all of that into account.

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Re: Conspicuous Consumption
Old 08-11-2006, 03:20 PM   #16
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption

Quote:
A lot of people see cost of things only in $$$ terms.* Things often cost a lot more than $$$.* They cost in time, effort, maintenance, space, distraction.* You have to take all of that into account.
Audrey
This came to me loud and clear when to had to pay $20 to get rid of an old couch. You pay to buy it, pay with money or time to keep it clean and repaired, then pay again to get rid of it. Now when I consider a purchase always tend to think how will I get rid of this, what will it cost to maintain it and keep from becoming a source of embarrassment and stress, etc, etc.

One of my sons has so much junk he loses it behind the other junk. It has become a source of stress, rather than pleasure.

Ha
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption
Old 08-11-2006, 03:21 PM   #17
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption

Hmmmm

Live 30 years in New Orleans - autodeduct all retirement and taxible(investments) BEFORE you get your paycheck.

One thing I learned in New Orleans - never, never let work interfer when it's time to party - you only live once.

Bon Temps Rolliere.

Heh heh heh heh heh - do pace yourself enough to survive until the next one.
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption
Old 08-11-2006, 03:40 PM   #18
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption

Yes, Ha - I think that when most people realize the true cost of "stuff" - when they try to get rid of it.

When you buy something, you are making a commitment until you get rid of it. That's just the way it is. The first dollars you plunk down are just the initial expense.

Just watch a few episodes of "Clean Sweep" and you'll see the hilariously entertaining psychology of people and their stuff. It's a pretty good education in the "true cost of stuff" and the fact that you are making tradeoffs even if you pretend the tradeoffs don't exits. People also have outrageously unrealistic ideas of what their stuff is actually worth (to someone else). It's funny!

Of course I got a complete education in the true cost of stuff by getting rid of most of it! A house, a boat, all the furniture, and 80+% of my other personal items. Also got to enjoy the delicious freedom of getting most of that stuff out of my life!!!

Absolutely right - think about what it will cost to get rid of it, and if it's something that will still have some value after a few years, what kind of investment it'll take to keep it in decent condition.

Then you do smart things like get rid of something that you don't use often. Or if you do use something often, keep it in repairs to maintain it's value. How many people do things like remodel their house just before selling it to raise the value? Gosh! They could have remodeled about 2 years before selling and then gotten to enjoy the upgrades before selling. Same things like boats, cars, etc.

Sorry - I sometimes get on the "true cost of stuff" soapbox.

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Re: Conspicuous Consumption
Old 08-11-2006, 03:44 PM   #19
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption

We have never been conspicuous consumers.

However, I do think of myself as having problems with impulse control. This can be inconsistent with LBYM. *If I go shopping, I am easily tempted to buy. *The worst ocassion was from about 20 years ago. It was cold outside and there was a car dealer that had their cars for sale inside. *I went in just to look around. *I left with a sports car. *

I have this under fairly good control. *I don't go car shopping. * We try to keep the amount of spending money in bank accounts somewhat limited. If I take Greg shopping with me I am much less inclined to buy. *He is very rational about shopping. *Audrey's suggestion of conspicuously looking at a choice before making it is good. *But I can find myself in the situation of shutting down the rational part of me and just getting what I WANT right now. *It is not like I am or ever was a shopaholic. *Instead, I recognize that I could be and try to avoid temptation. *

I also was a smoker from my teen years until about 30. *Quitting was hell. *If I had one, I would have more. I wouldn't be able to control the impulse.

I can't keep ice cream in the freezer either. *I will eat it all. *

It helps me, as Mikey said, to think of frugality as a virtue. *




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Re: Conspicuous Consumption
Old 08-11-2006, 04:08 PM   #20
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Re: Conspicuous Consumption

I never was a good consumer, so most of the marketing hype in that article is foreign to me. My spouse was trained by a couple of moving companies to not be a consumer as well. We had our entire shipment back from overseas stolen many years ago. That clearly showed that "stuff" just does not matter. When we moved again about 9 years later, the reputable national company lost a bunch of our other "stuff". Insurance money made us whole, but we just don't accumulate stuff at all. Evidence: we have a two car garage and can fit 3 cars in there now.
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