Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Cost of Vices

Rob Paterson confesses: I Am an Addict. It's a short post about the "little" expenses we incur that seem insignificant until you add them up. Tannis and I did some figuring last week and found out that we spent $300 in two earlier weeks on eating out and drinking. I'm hoping that wasn't an average week. (As an aside, what is it about our ongoing fascination with high-end beverages? I realize that this happens over time, but it seems like one day we woke up and would accept nothing less than the best dark coffee, microbrewed beer and local wines.)

Whenever anyone needs to cut spending, they look at the disposable-income purchases like eating out. I think it's a legitimate way to get through a tight month, but my criticism of that approach has been that people don't seem as willing to question their biggest actual expenses: housing, vehicles and consumer debt. We assume that they're non-negotiable, but we trap ourselves by tending to by the most/biggest/best we can afford, or often borrow enough to buy somewhat more than we can afford. It astounds me when people talk about regular payments on their credit card debt.

So what does it have to do with Lifestylism? What we choose to spend our money and time on should reflect what we value. Issues of spending are always related to how much income we can generate, and the general equation is that we need to work more (spending more time) to generate more income. But at what point do we not have the time to enjoy what we buy? Perhaps that's what underpins our reliance on consumer debt -- we work enough to cover our "basic" costs, but still expect to be able to afford our favourite extras as well.

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