This truth is self-evident: it sucks to be poor. I mean, it sucks so obviously that even the kids know it.
I’ve felt poor many times in my life. When I was little and I desperately wanted a Barbie. When I was graduating high-school and didn’t want to go to prom because dressing up would be too expensive. When I was in university and only came home once in 6 weeks because that’s how long I needed to save for the train. When my dad died and I had all this debt to pay back.
When you make a Big Strategic Choice, it’s not about doing something big, once. It’s about making many tough little choices, over and over.
Getting fit, for example – let’s say that’s your Big Strategic Choice. Hitting the gym for one big workout three hours straight would be a bad decision because the next day you’ll be sore all over and you will have no visible results. Instead, you have to make lots of everyday little choices in line with your Big Strategic Choice. That would mean eating an apple instead of a chocolate, and taking the stairs instead of taking the elevator. (More on that in Why the rich are rich and the fat are fat.)
I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways we spend our money lately. And I came to wonder how we look to other people.
If you look at me in my casual, slightly worn-out clothes on my way to the grocery, and you notice the wind playing with the cloth bag in my hand, you’d think I don’t look very classy. You’d see old trainers on my feet, and maybe you’d catch a glimpse of my shopping list as I put it in my pocket – a shopping list that’s written on the back of a calendar sheet reading “GUST”. (When I tear off calendar sheets, I cut them into really small pieceds and then staple the little ones together to later use for notes… or shopping lists.) Judging by what you saw when I walked past you, you’d think I look like someone who counts the pennies in their hand. (Which I do.)
Let’s say you follow me to the store and watch me shop. You’d see me regularly check my shopping list and only take the items which go there. Those would be things like meat, fruit, white cheese, bread – and usually no potato chips, instant meals or pre-cooked food. In other words, I only buy meal ingredients, stuff that’s used for cooking and no junk or lazy food. Seeing that, you’d again think I look like someone who is… well… poor.
I recently wrote a post titled My husband spends too much money… or is it just me? I guess that since I confessed about how I flinch when my husband buys non-essentials like mustard and peanuts and how I obsess over how many squirts of liquid soap he uses to wash his hands, it’s understandable why many readers would think I have an obsession with saving.
And maybe you’d think that since I favor saving money so much, I only buy the cheapest stuff ever.
Cheap means low-quality, low-value
I think it’s a safe bet to say that the cheapest stuff out there is usually the most low-quality stuff, too.
See, in order to provide a really low price that’s well below the market average, a producer has to cut some corners. The materials that go into the product would have to be cheap. The equipment used in production would have to be low-end. The labor would have to be cheap, too, and cheap labor means bad make. (You can’t work minimum wage and tolerate your supervisor demand you give a five-star performance at the assembly line.) So you have all these factors working together to provide a low price, but they also work together to provide a really low-quality item.
This is a guest post by Ryan Harrison. Ryan is a New York native and single dad working on his MBA.
To send a guest post proposal, contact me at [kadebg AT abv DOT bg] .
Many years ago, when a newly married Chris Rock appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” she asked him: “What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done for your wife?” His answer: “I paid off her credit cards.” Not every guy has Rock’s generosity (or money) to pay down his girlfriend’s or fiancée’s’ debts, but we all know someone who’s done it. The reason we do it is simple: We don’t want to marry debt. Changes in behavior and attitude toward money must go hand in hand with paying off bills.
I came upon an interesting article about spending… want to share with you some of what shocked me… I realized that my spending habits are not that bad after all. Not that I was afraid they are, but it’s different when you see that you are far away from any obsessed-to-insanity money-saving addiction. I’m afraid this is not a healthy way of life… there are plenty of things that keep bugging me ever since I read those lines…
I’m 28 and my husband’s 35. We met a year ago. Six months later we moved in together, I got pregnant and we got married. Everything is great… except that I get angry each time my husband spends money.
For example, we’re at the store and he buys potato chips. He doesn’t need them. He’s not buying them because he’s hungry. He just “wants some.” Or he takes the car to work even though he has a buss pass. He doesn’t need to take the car. He just “doesn’t feel like taking the bus today.”
Now I don’t mind it when he spends money on buying a good jacket instead of a cheap Chinese-made model. And I didn’t mind it when we recently bought a pricy range hood for the kitchen – it was actually me who insisted on not getting the cheapest one.
So I don’t have a problem with him spending money on stuff that lasts. But I do have a problem with him wasting money on everyday perishables like snacks and drinks. (I can’t even call it “food” because, well, that’s not food.) And if we want to afford the quality items in clothes and appliances, we have to cut the spending on everyday junk. We shouldn’t take the car and spend money on gas when we have a buss pass. And we shouldn’t use a lot of water when we shower.