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RightNation.US: "I LOVE Spending Money!" - RightNation.US

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"I LOVE Spending Money!"

So yesterday, I’m riding up in the elevator, looking at the Captivate screen, thinking about the market, and definitely NOT paying attention to the several somewhat boisterous women that were chatting and giggling amongst themselves. (After all, this is why they put Captivate screens in elevators; so that you can plausibly ignore your fellow passengers.) I’m not sure what they were talking about but I think it had something to do with Valentine’s Day.

We arrived at their floor, and they exited the car without breaking conversational stride (so to speak). As they walked away, one of them loudly pronounced:

“I LOVE spending money!”

The others were still laughing about that when the closing doors shut me off from their gaiety, and the cables once again tugged me upwards, toward my waiting responsibilities. “Wonder if the market will stay above 10,000,” I pondered.

That “money” comment must have sneakily tucked into the back of my mind because, as I was driving up to New Hampshire today, it spontaneously came to the forefront; and after mentally holding it up to the light and looking at it from different angles, I realized that I just didn’t “get it”.

Yes, it’s unremarkable that someone would say something like that; especially in a happy casual social exchange; wherein others would intuitively know to laugh along, or even join in with: “TELL me about it!” or: “Don’t I know it!” It seems to be that kind of group-bonding exposition; a sort of interactive facetiousness intended to get a conversation started (or to keep one going).

But what does it really mean?

Well, for one thing, in these difficult economic times, joking about money with one’s friends and peers can be a valuable stress reliever; a sort of commonality that, at a topical level, can make one feel less isolated in one’s financial struggles. True, money is one of those subjects that one might not discuss in polite circumstances; yet this kind of comment can emphasize not only the shared nature of an unspoken condition, but also the comedic value of: “I can’t believe she ‘went there!’”

However in this case, “love” would be of the virtually unattainable variety: “I usually can’t do it (spend money) so I ‘love’ it when I can.” As they say: Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

But that can’t be right… people spend money all the time. Heck, they can even spend it when they don’t have it. (“Credit Crisis”, anyone?) Surely it can’t be the ACT of spending money that gets them off… can it?

This is what I would have liked to ask that “love spending money” crowd. DO YOU LOVE:
  • Paying bills?
  • Paying taxes?
  • Paying parking/traffic tickets?
  • Paying alimony?
  • ”Lending” money to folks that you should know won’t ever pay you back?
  • Giving money to “street people” or doorknockers who are ballsy enough to ask you for it?
  • Going to the doctor, dentist, or emergency room?
  • Exiting a casino as something other than a “winner”?
  • And so on, and so on, ad infinitum?

There are AMPLE examples of “spending money” that only a masochist could “love”. Indeed, if it’s only DEBITS (or negative cash flow) that one genuinely LOVES, then that would be at best a FETISH… or at worst, a symptom of genuine mental illness. (Let’s call it: Financial Psychosis.)

If it’s just a fetish and you can afford it then… hey… enjoy! Far be it from me to criticize how you spend your money. It’s yours; do with it as you like. [***] But for most… NO… no no no… that’s not it. I can’t believe that it’s the “spending” part that they “love”… it must be something else...

… what can it be?

***- By “you” I mean actual people, not corporations. The recent SCOTUS ruling is a bit disturbing from a “buy a politician and/or an election” perspective. In that context it would be everyone’s business how “you” spend “your” money since it would/could affect all of “us”… but that’s a topic for a different discussion.

For most, I don’t think it’s the “spending”… I think it’s the BUYING… the acquisition… the “WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?” bit. Goods, services, influence… STATUS… (tattoos)… THAT’S the “love” part. “Spending” is just the manner in which it happens… the medium of exchange. “I can afford this” is a very short-lived novelty… WHAT “I can afford” is something else altogether.

Does this make sense? Why else would someone “love spending money”? New things and showing off… right? Or more specifically… isn’t this why anyone would PROCLAIM that they “love spending money”? That they CAN… or DO… or WANT TO… and get something out of it?... and they’re somehow proud of that? Hmmm?

See, this is why it’s wrong to talk about money in social circumstances… there’s virtually no way to do it without being attributed with less-than-honorable intentions. You’re either begging or bragging, and there’s nothing attractive in between.

If you want to share good news with others … like buying your first home or paying off your student loan (etc)… that’s okay so long as you don’t go into the details. There’s nothing wrong with throwing a “mortgage burning” party… it’s a happy occasion and you want to share the good feelings. But asking or telling the numbers?... no, happy (and polite) people don’t go there.

Similarly, if you’re in dire straits, and need your support network… there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that either… just keep it close and personal and don’t make it a social event.

Finally… after all this analysis… I’ve decided that I do NOT “love spending money”.

I enjoy MAKING money… I very much like SAVING money (self-admitted coupon queen) :)… I’m keen on INVESTING money, and am thrilled when that pays off… and yes, I often “love” the goods and services (including entertainment and advancement) that I can purchase WITH money… but SPENDING? That’s actually kind of humdrum… and too often disturbing.

Had the young lady exiting the elevator proclaimed: “I am VERY SATISFIED that I spend my money efficaciously!”, I probably would have clapped and cheered her: HEAR HEAR!!!

On the other hand… that’s probably why my coworkers don’t invite me to join them for lunch, and consequently ride the elevator with them… adequate (and private) financial management is such a buzz kill at parties.


3 Comments On This Entry

Like you, I love finding a bargain. I get a bigger thrill when I can repair/circumvent/make something at a fraction of the cost of a new one. You might say the bigger thrill is when I don't have to spend money.

As far as the conversation on the elevator, the rather vapid female in question likes buying things. Oh, we all enjoy a good acquisition. There are days when you just want to buy yourself something. But I suspect she is like a number of women I've known who simple enjoy the thrill of buying, and really don't care how much effort is needed to pay the bills. Especially if they are the ones paying the bills.

I have to admit that I enjoy being in the position that I am now, older, few debts, just me and three cats, fairly well paid for what I do all of which give me the freedom to buy things. That's the truth. Sorry if that offends. But love it? No, I wouldn't say that but I enjoy it but I find that I mostly enjoy being able to buy things that my loved ones need. And I'm still and always will be a bargain hunter. I like saving too, do a lot of that these days too. Investing? I just don't trust the market and I'm not in the position to play or risk what I have.
I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with enjoying new things or a good bargain; it's just that, out of the conversational context, "I love spending money" doesn't make sense.
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