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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it
Old 11-04-2005, 07:18 AM   #41
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it

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Since when is a Lexus RX330 part of conspicous consumption? It's a pretty inexpensive small SUV. There are 4 of them on our cul-de-sac. They are so prevalent in the community that they are considered just another ol' beater car.
Lets clear this up. A Lexus is conspicious consumption. Though i thought it was common knowledge, lexus is a luxury line of Toyota. There are less expensive vehicles that do the job equally well, and i bet everyone of those neighbors dont actually drive the SUV offroad (which is what an SUV is designed for). If they're used for hauling people (most likely the case), a minivan makes a lot more sense functionally as well as pricewise compared to a lexus SUV.
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it
Old 11-04-2005, 07:55 AM   #42
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it

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Originally Posted by azanon
Lets clear this up. A Lexus is conspicious consumption. Though i thought it was common knowledge, lexus is a luxury line of Toyota. There are less expensive vehicles that do the job equally well, and i bet everyone of those neighbors dont actually drive the SUV offroad (which is what an SUV is designed for). If they're used for hauling people (most likely the case), a minivan makes a lot more sense functionally as well as pricewise compared to a lexus SUV.
If the person buying the Lexus believes that it is higher quality than other cars and has the features he/she wants that may not be available in other cars, is that still "CC"?

Seems like the same argument to me about buying quality so it will last. Although, I guess that would then depend on how soon this person trades the Lexus for a another new car (or buys a new car and keeps the Lexus.)

Personally, I don't see the benefit of buying an expensive car, but if you're making $200k/year or simply have a high NW, to that person it would seem the same difference of buying name brand cereal at the grocery store versus the generic brand.
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it
Old 11-04-2005, 08:03 AM   #43
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it

OK, maybe "conspicuous consumption" isn't the best description. Instead, how about high consumption? I've no doubt that the purchase of house and cars is well within the partner's means (he paid cash for the house). I guess I just don't get the idea of spending money just because you have it. Maybe I will get there eventually (when I have more dough), but at least at this point in my life, I can think of an awful lot better things to do with an extra 10 r 20 grand than to use it to buy the luxury version of whatever car I would have otherwise bought.
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it
Old 11-04-2005, 08:20 AM   #44
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it

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Originally Posted by azanon
Lets clear this up.* A Lexus is conspicious consumption.* Though i thought it was common knowledge, lexus is a luxury line of Toyota.* There are less expensive vehicles that do the job equally well, and i bet everyone of those neighbors dont actually drive the SUV offroad (which is what an SUV is designed for).* *If they're used for hauling people (most likely the case), a minivan makes a lot more sense functionally as well as pricewise compared to a lexus SUV.
Lexus likes to advertise that it's a luxury line, but like Acura they have some cheap models like the RX series. An RX300 can be less expensive than the Toyota Highlander that was mentioned above. Also, it does just fine off-road and in flooded streets where a Ford SW or Dodge minivan would croak. And it can get better gas mileage than that minivan. It's a much quieter ride on the inside than these cars. Plus the service is outstanding.

So I'm gonna have to disagree with you. The RX is a good general purpose beater vehicle.
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it
Old 11-04-2005, 08:21 AM   #45
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it

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Originally Posted by brewer12345
I guess I just don't get the idea of spending money just because you have it. Maybe I will get there eventually (when I have more dough)
I think this is the heart of what I struggle with as the "ER Paradox" or perhaps the "ER Loop".

I picture a dialogue with your/our co-workers to be something like:

ER: "I don't get the idea of spending money just because you have it."

Them: "If you don't spend it, why do you want more money?"

ER: "So I can achieve FI and retire."

Them: "I can already buy everything I want, so I have FI, plus I like working to make more money so why do I want to retire early?"

ER: "So you can do other things, other than work."

Them: "But I like to work and buy things that make me happy."

ER: "Buying things doesn't make me happy, experiences make me happy, other than work."

Them: "Maybe you should find a job that makes you happy."

ER: "I like the money at this job, so I can save up a big pile of money - eventually, and then retire."

Them: "To do what? Spend it in retirement? Why wait?"


As you can see, I'm cursed with a Gollum-like internal monologue...


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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it
Old 11-04-2005, 08:28 AM   #46
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it

Except that I would never open my pie hole and utter any of those words. I imagine that if this is the job I retire from I will have a tough time getting my point across.
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it
Old 11-04-2005, 08:48 AM   #47
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it

The CC in my neighborhood is the soccer moms driving Hummers :P Hummers are an obnoxious eyesore on the road.

To all of you Hummer drivers: You do not look cool.
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it
Old 11-04-2005, 09:06 AM   #48
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it

Good thread. It took me a day to find it so everyone's already said most of what I would have said.

I think one point that has not been touched on is the psychological aspects of consumption. A lot of people who have "arrived" at the point where they have the money to buy the conspicuous status stuff have this empty hole in their lives, this is- this- all- there- is- feeling. The common response to an empty meaningless life is to try to fill it with "stuff." The desire to shop for and buy bigger better cooler stuff becomes the internal focus. When all you do is watch tv, and the ads bombard you with what you must have, it's easy to become obsessed. Accumulating stuff becomes the meaning of life....

When she found herself divorced, living alone, kids grown and gone, my mom got very depressed. Her whole life seemed to revolve around buying stuff. Luckily she discovered golf, joined a senior womens' league and then her life started to revolve around golf instead.

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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it
Old 11-04-2005, 09:54 AM   #49
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it

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Originally Posted by brewer12345
I am not inetersted in conspicuous consumption (CC) and never have been. Lately, I have been exposed to some really world-class levels of CC. I guess Wall St. had a good year and will be distributing obscenely large bonuses soon. I am hearing news reports of luxury goods retailers already ramping up their business, and no doubt things will start going into overdrive. My colleagues are infected with all this nonsense as well. One of the junior partners has purchased the following since I joined up in April: 2005 Mustang convetible; a 4BR house in a nice NYC suburban neighborhood (which has been completely gutted since the purchase), and most recently a Luxus RX330. A senior analyst mentioned yesterday that his wife is starting to talk about buying an Escalade (despite the fact that her Durango is 3, maybe 4 years old).

I don't get it. These guys work hideously long hours for the comp they get, and then they apparently piss a lot of it away on luxury junk. I guess I am a bad Merkin or something, but I find it strange and off-putting.
My thought is that modern 'employed life' has led to a great deal of compression in the work place. Most of this compression has been caused not by the nature of work, which has been the same for generations, but the change in the time element. We are now forced to multi-task and and deal with things much faster. It used to be that you were given one task to complete, you completed it, you took a short break, then started a new task. (I know i'm over-simplifying here). Today, we are all in a flurry, compounded by e-mails, calls from home, multiple projects being juggled all at once, etc., etc.--all validation of our greater productivity.

The compression builds. We need a release. We buy a new car. It seems to help. But it is really superficial because we really know that that is not a permanent solution for ever increasing pressure. We end up walking around like zombies, responding to the environmental stimuli (TV ads) in the most vacuous ways, maxing out our credit card limits to buy toys.

(I'll bet Nords has the best de-compression stories. Getting off a submarine after three months or more of active duty in a life-death situation, occupied by required life-death activities, etc.)

My true dislike of GWB comes from watching how he has managed to undermine seventy years of refined security blanket. He is disassembling the SS system, the healthcare system, worker security (unions?--not that this is all bad), rising deficits, etc., so that we are slowly compressing ourselves, as a nation, into a sort of robotic consuming machine. These are things that the middle class was built on, a feeling of security that provided the basis for taking well thought out risks and creating real fulfillment. In our compressed state, we lose the real textures of life and end up responding to base crudeness--fear and greed.

--Greg



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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it
Old 11-04-2005, 10:21 AM   #50
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it

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Originally Posted by Apocalypse . . .um . . .SOON
My true dislike of GWB comes from watching how he has managed to undermine seventy years of refined security blanket. He is disassembling the SS system, the healthcare system, worker security (unions?--not that this is all bad)
I think it would have happened with or without GWB - I don't give him that kind of credit. I don't think he's that competent.
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it
Old 11-04-2005, 10:22 AM   #51
 
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it

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He is disassembling the SS system,
He wanted to and made some attempts, but his 'domestic' agenda stands less of a chance than a snowball in hell.
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it
Old 11-04-2005, 10:48 AM   #52
 
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it

What would happen to the economy, long term and short term, if tomorrow, all of these conspicuous consumers (and the government too) suddenly saw the light, and became frugal prodigious savers?
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it
Old 11-04-2005, 10:51 AM   #53
 
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it

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Originally Posted by TromboneAl
What would happen to the economy, long term and short term, if tomorrow, all of these conspicuous consumers (and the government too) suddenly saw the light, and became frugal prodigious savers?
Let us be thankful for the fools, because without them we would have no success.
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it
Old 11-04-2005, 01:08 PM   #54
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it

I read Juliet Schorr's "The Overspent American" a few years ago.* I don't remember much of it except something about how we all have groups we kind of aspire to belong to, and that we then spend in accordance with how that group spends.* So, our spending becomes relative to what group we associate with, which Joneses we aspire to be similar to.

It's not necessarily our own peer groups all the time, either; it could be the characters we see on TV like those from "Friends" or "The Cosbys".* TV and advertising raise our expectations of what our living standards should be and we try to reach those standards.*

When I first came and started working in the US, I fell into this and thought most everyone lived like The Cosbys here.* I aspired to have expensive stuff.* I kinda felt a wall between my old life from my country of birth and the new life of plenty here.*

Several years went by and the spell was broken after I realized how the striving for stuff and status was stressing me out.* Also, I regained more contact with family from "home", was able to visit, and open myself again to memories and ties to "home".*

I like good, comfortable shoes so I buy what I think are expensive $100 shoes when I need them.* That's my luxury.* My other weakness is dishes, so I go to the thrift store occasionally and "indulge"* although I think I will buy good new dishes pretty soon here.* I also want to buy a piano someday.

Beyond those, the old Catholic guilt surfaces when I'm blowing money away on what I consider frivolous, in light of my family's poverty across the seas.
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it
Old 11-04-2005, 05:00 PM   #55
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it

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Originally Posted by flipstress

Beyond those, the old Catholic guilt surfaces when I'm blowing money away on what I consider frivolous, in light of my family's poverty across the seas.
Flip has a good point - When I came back from Honduras my awareness of our societies' incredibly wasteful consumption of resources was heightened.

I kept thinking about how the cost of one plasma tv exceeded the annual income of ten families.* And how families of 8 were living on $20 per month.* *

I think we ought to be ashamed.
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it
Old 11-04-2005, 06:11 PM   #56
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it

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Originally Posted by Sheryl
I kept thinking about how the cost of one plasma tv exceeded the annual income of ten families.* And how families of 8 were living on $20 per month.* *

I think we ought to be ashamed.
Ashamed of what? Of taking advantage of the system that we are all a part of? Ashamed of spending the money I work very hard to earn so my family is well cared for and I can hope for a comfortable life when I retire? Ashamed that I support a number of charities with my giving from my salary that would not get that money if I did not make a decent wage?

No, I am not ashamed to spend my money on the things I want. I am thankful I am not in a third world country. I am thankful my parents were able to give me some inspiration to make it on my own. I am thankful I live in a country that offers a way for people of all walks of life to be FI.

I don't have to be ashamed of anything in my life. I am proud of what I have been able to do despite some serious health issues. I am sorry that others in the world are not as well off as most Americans but I am not ashamed of it. I cannot save the world and I won't try beyond giving what I can to projects that may provide some health support and education to those less fortunate than myself.

Sorry to rant but I guess this just hit a button today.
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it
Old 11-04-2005, 06:33 PM   #57
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it

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Originally Posted by brewer12345
I guess Wall St. had a good year and will be distributing obscenely large bonuses soon.
Brewer, Here is the part I don't quite get. Good year for what? Underwriting? M&A? Trading?

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Originally Posted by FlowGirl
He has a high end triathlon bike that turns quite a few heads (Softride) but its something that he's taken 2 years to build - frame off ebay, friend of a friend had some extra speedplay pedals, etc. He enjoys the bike, enjoys having got it for such a good deal, and yes, does enjoy having others "ooh and ahhh" over it. I don't give him a hard time about it though - he commutes on it almost every day and while it might be conspicuous its way cheaper than a Lexus.
Anything spent on motivating yourself to stay in good physical shape and then actually sticking with it is almost never conspicuous in my book. I have a techy hybrid road bike on my wish list.
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it
Old 11-04-2005, 07:23 PM   #58
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it

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Originally Posted by SteveR
Ashamed of what?** *<snip>

Sorry to rant but I guess this just hit a button today.*
I knew when I wrote that that I was probably pushing buttons - sorry. * *I didn't take the time (while working) to be more specific.

I think my "we" of "we should be ashamed" was aimed more at a feeling I have about the global distribution (or lack thereof) of wealth, and sense of guilt I have personally that the US may have achieved a lot of our wealth through exploitation of third world countries.* *I might be a communist or something* ** * I wasn't speaking of "we" the posters on this board.*

I don't think anyone should be ashamed of wanting to provide a comfortable, even luxurious life for themselves and their families.* *But what I am personally ashamed about is to see the amount of money some "conspicuous consumers" throw away on things they don't really want or need.* *

My comments are probably affected by the Dr. Phil episode I saw earlier this week:* http://www.drphil.com/shows/show/608/.

It was about spoiled children getting things out of their parents just to see if they could - this bratty 13 year old saying "I just wanted to see if I could get her [mother] to buy me the computer, I didn't really want it"* *

What I'm ashamed of is the growing examples I see wasteful excess for the sake of status or image, while others are suffering and struggling.

Hope that clarifies.
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it
Old 11-04-2005, 08:44 PM   #59
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it

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Brewer, Here is the part I don't quite get. Good year for what? Underwriting? M&A? Trading?
Yes.

More specifically, M&A was very good, as was commodities trading, some equity and bond trading. Underwriting was probably average. Anything to do with CDS probably had a banner year. Certain specialty businesses (like life insurance securitization) did very well also.

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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it
Old 11-05-2005, 07:04 AM   #60
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Re: Conspicuous consumption: I don't get it

LOL! writes:
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Lexus likes to advertise that it's a luxury line, but like Acura they have some cheap models like the RX series. An RX300 can be less expensive than the Toyota Highlander that was mentioned above. Also, it does just fine off-road and in flooded streets where a Ford SW or Dodge minivan would croak. And it can get better gas mileage than that minivan. It's a much quieter ride on the inside than these cars. Plus the service is outstanding.

So I'm gonna have to disagree with you. The RX is a good general purpose beater vehicle.
I agree with LOL. I bought an RX300 5 years ago for fairly utilitarian reasons. Here in Japan it is called a Toyota Harrier, not a Lexus RX, but is still considered a very nice vehicle. The debate was between the Harrier, the Honda Odyssey, and the Toyota HiLux Surf (called the 4Runner in the US). All 3 cars cost about the same (in the base models that I was looking at), and any of the 3 would have fit my needs for hauling family and stuff. The Harrier/RX300's semi-luxury image (note: I don't think Toyota's real luxury cars are even sold in the US) was actually a drawback for me, as I didn't want a car that drew attention. But in the end the superior crash-test ratings on the Harrier won out for me. Had the Highlander (or Kluger V, as it's called here) been out at the time, I might have gone for that instead, since as far as I can tell it is structurally and price-wise the same car, but with a less noticeable profile.

It is only 5 years old, so I wouldn't exactly call it a beater yet, but I intend to drive it until well after it becomes one.

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