Money, She Said She Said, Work
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Is It Ever Ok To Be Foolish with Money?

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(Illustration: Mark Gardner)

A regular series wherein we discuss deep topics via instant message.

This week Margit Detweiler and Stacy Morrison discuss their “spendy regrets” on a Friday afternoon at 6pm while multi-tasking.

margit2
So, my friend, how are we defining this thing called “spending foolishly?”

stacy2
I have a hard time with the word foolish. Underneath it all, foolish often means FUN and who doesn’t want that? But yes, I’ve had my spendy regrets.

margit2
Spendy regrets. Love it. Give me an example.

stacy2
I just made a foolish purchase today. I absolutely could have found a perfectly fine piece of furniture for about 1/10th of what I paid. But I fell in LOVE with an aged-wood credenza. The masterful handiwork! The crossed-iron base! And I have to say, the love I give to that piece, I will get back for decades. So no regrets.

margit2
So that’s not really foolish then? “If it makes you happy…” to quote Ms. Crow. What are the things you will *always* spend money on? Like for me, it’s a comfortable seat with a great view. On a train, a plane, in a theater — anywhere. I will always spend more on a Broadway ticket aisle seat, partly because I’m vaguely claustrophobic, but that’s another story.

stacy2
The best seats are almost always worth it. I saw Neil Young open his last solo tour from the fourth row in Albany. God lord, those tickets were almost $500 each. But I was in awe and so happy.

margit2
It’s really interesting what other people will spend on. But when you start to compare $800 dinner = $800 camera = $800 rug = $800 class or donation that could advance someone’s life, it puts things into perspective.

stacy2
I did pay $1,000 for a pair of shoes once. Maybe twice. Can I say that out loud?

margit2
Holy hell. I think the most I ever spent on shoes was $550! And I wanted to throw up. I am no Jimmy Choo girl.

stacy2
That’s what brings me back to foolish. Nothing is more luxurious than no debt. I live in fear of being in big debt again. Truth is, if you don’t have three months’ or more emergency reserves, all unnecessary spending is foolish.

margit2
There were days in the ’90s when I was selling CDs to eat lunch. Or days in college of donating — not blood — plasma! Students would regularly donate their plasma to make extra cash. Now that’s what I call broke.

stacy2
That’s hardcore! I just sell my expensive clothes to consignment shops. It makes me feel great to think of other people loving the clothes I no longer need.

margit2
I think there’s stuff that we know we shouldn’t spend money on, but do anyway. Like me ordering dinner delivery every night on Seamless.com.

stacy2
Like buying my Starbucks coffees at $4 a pop every day.

margit2
Ok, what’s your secret SHAME spending?

stacy2
My *ahem* online erotica. When my bank calls me to make sure I’m not being defrauded I always feel a little offended. Do you ever hide purchases from your husband?

margit2
Sometimes. Nothing major, just like half-truths. If I buy a pair of jeans, shoes and a few tops, he’ll only see the jeans. And eventually he’ll say “Hey …where did you get those shoes?”

stacy2
I love financial infidelity. It’s an amazing phenomenon. My mom was bipolar and on a manic day that meant SHOPPING TRIP! We used to hide the bags at my friend’s house so my father wouldn’t see.

margit2
Would you classify yourself as a saver or a spender?

stacy2
I’m a classic “binger.” I save and save then go buck-wild crazy for six months. Then I rein it in and begin saving again.

margit2
Oh I KNOW my shameful spending secret. Its initials are C.C.

margit2
Can you guess? It’s terribly shameful.

stacy2
CC… Luxury Coca-Cola?

margit2
Um, no.

margit2
It’s a game.

stacy2
Calvin Cline (sic)?

margit2
Candy Crush. I never thought I’d be *that* person.

stacy2
GAH! iPhone apps. AAAAAAACK. ::runs the other way:: I quit that Candy Crush shit. I was like, “I’m not your bitch.”

margit2
I got my sister into it and she texted me “You don’t actually *pay* to advance levels do you Margit? Do you???” She was horrified.

stacy2
I’ll admit I paid for the levels, too.

margit2
I am a Candy Crush bitch, and not proud of it.

stacy2
That’s a t-shirt. Make ’em up and sell ’em and you’ll never pay for a Candy Crush level again.

margit2
So do we think spending foolishly has greater meaning?

stacy2
For some people, foolish spending cuts into their security or buys them a sense of self. But in my case, I understand that “foolish” spending I do as an expression of exuberance and confidence. Like I said, I am a saver at heart.

margit2
Yes, I applaud spending money on intangibles: events, experiences, the things you can’t take with you.

stacy2
You have to be ALL IN. One of the great rewards of being older is that you know yourself so much better: I totally understand the deep, grounding effect that owning amazing furniture has on me. So I spend much less on clothes. It cuts through the money anxiety, to make those choices in a clear way.

For me it’s not about taking it, or remembering it. It’s about HAVING it LOVING it LIVING it and taking the full pleasure out of a choice you made, a leap you took.

margit2
And like before, you’ll pull yourself out the debt, and start over.

stacy2
Yes. And this time, I will have defined boundaries and goals going in, so coming out won’t be so hard. Wisdom. It’s worth its weight in gold. Maybe not its weight in wrinkles, but that’s another story.

margit2
Embrace the green. Spend foolishly…wisely.

stacy2
EXACTLY.

Stacy Morrison is now offline.

6:38 PM

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6 Comments

  1. Jenna Briand
    Jenna Briand says

    Love this conversation… totally relate. I too think of my spending binges as earned, a reward of some sort, and have managed to keep regret levels low thanks to buying things I can enjoy for the long haul. More of these, please!

  2. Susan Linney
    Susan Linney says

    I love this, too. I have to be careful with my spending — sometimes I realize I’m doing it to fill that hole that I used to lead me to drink — but as long as I realize this, a good splurge is necessary every so often! Even when money is tight. And Stacy makes a great point: as you get older, you learn more about yourself and the things you like, and therefore those “splurges” become much less foolish.

    Great chat, ladies. Thanks for letting us “listen” in!

    Susan

  3. Adrianna Dufay
    Adrianna says

    I have to add something here about spendy regrets (I love this term and it’s now a permanent part of my vocabulary.) I have expiration regrets — I get these coupons and gift cards and refunds and never use them and then they expire. So there are just chunks of money ($20 here, $50 here) that go wasted. I always think I’m going to sell them on those open exchanges or give them to someone else but I never, ever do it. I hate that.

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