When it comes to your personal finances, being superficial and saving money is like oil and water, they just don’t mix. Trying to impress people with how you look, or the amount of money you spend, is one of the quickest ways to waste money and dig yourself into a financial hole.
This doesn’t mean that those who are superficial are bad people. It might just mean that they are uniformed as to the ways of saving or in some cases have not had to save for so long that they’ve forgotten how. However, realizing what superficial products and expenditures are out there can be the first step in avoiding them. Here are a few of the more common superficial products and purchases that can lead to undue injury to your wallet.
High End Coffees
Whether it’s a beer at the bar, grabbing a soft drink, or getting a coffee to go, purchasing beverages can be one of the worst money decisions you might make on a regular basis. While purchasing almost any beverage at a restaurant or fast food joint is going to be a poor return on your investment, one of the most superficial purchases, and the one that really burns my bunions, is high-end coffee. Paying $4 or more for a drink whose ingredients may only cost 20 cents, just so you can join the morning coffee club at work or fit in with those on your morning commute, is in my mind absurd and superficial.
I find it more sad than ridiculous when I see people buying brand names at the grocery or department store. I think that many of them actually consider these products superior to generics or store brands. Now I admit, occasionally there is a difference in taste or performance, but when it comes to a large number of the name brands, there is little or no significant departure, either in ingredients or in performance, from generics or store brands.
Beyond the uninformed consumer however, many people either have been conditioned by years of advertising or are just too embarrassed to be seen at the check out line with a generic in hand. These aspects, especially the latter, illustrate the true superficiality in buying name brands and are what bother me the most.
While I have no problem with going out to eat occasionally, for some, it can become more of a status symbol than just an opportunity to enjoy a good meal. When dining out becomes an opportunity to be seen by and impress others, rather than an occasional treat, it’s time to consider the superficiality of the event.
Consider whether paying a hundred dollars for a meal that you could have prepared at home at a fraction of the cost, is really worth the money. I’ll admit that it can certainly be nice to take the night off and let someone serve you once in a while. However, when this type of mentality becomes the norm, it’s silly and superficial. You might as well have an appetizer of lost cash, a main course of wasted money, and finish with a dessert of empty wallet.
There are few more identifying status symbols of superficiality than the car. The car a person drives might be their way of flaunting their apparent, although often fleeting wealth. I personally have never owned a new car, and doubt I ever will. Not because I can’t afford one, but because I consider it a terrible investment, and I really don’t care much for how my car looks as long as it gets me where I need to be.
In a way, I understand when people who have the means to purchase a reasonable, even slightly upscale vehicle, do so. Driving to your corporate job in a pile of junk is not the way to make the best of impressions, and you don’t want your car breaking down each day on the way to work. My problem is with the people who can’t afford fancy new vehicles, and could do with a reasonably priced and reliable used vehicle, but instead go the superficial route and buy something they can’t afford because the car is pretty, stylish or it will impress their friends.
I love it when I watch home shows on television as they follow the freshly wed couple, just starting out, and who want a 4-bedroom, 3-bath, 4000 square foot home. I mean it’s great to plan ahead and all, especially if you are expecting a large family, but you have to wonder if the couple really thinks they’ll eventually need this much space. Not only this, but you tend to wonder if they have considered the associated real estate taxes, utilities, repairs and maintenance, yard work, and a slew of other cringe-worthy aspects of home ownership. But then you sit back, enjoy the rest of the show, and hope the couple understands that purchasing a home is a heck of a big investment to make just to fit in with the Joneses.
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