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Subject:  Re: The New Luxuries Date:  10/11/2000  6:07 PM
Author:  artlv Number:  21502 of 876336


I agree that in the main, saving is good and saving more is better, which I think is your primary thrust; however, I have to disagree/quibble with some of the statements you make along the way in your post.

Many people associate saving money with sacrifice. My experience is that there is no connection between the two.

I can't deny your experience, but I wouldn't go so far as to say there is no connection in general. I could see an issue for those who are making do with less, and who consequently find it non-trivial to include savings in a budget, and more difficult still to increase the amount budgeted for savings, without giving up (sacrificing) other expenditures. The sacrifice need not be monetary either; a parent/spouse may sacrifice increasing amounts of time at work in order to go beyond merely putting food on the table from day to day. So, to me at least, there is an apparent connection between "saving money and sacrifice" in at least some cases.

A luxury to me is something rare and precious that brings an unusual feeling of comfort or pleasure. I question whether the things that can be bought with a credit card still fit the bill.

"...for everything else, there's MasterCard..."

Perhaps there are people who find rare and precious things which bring unusual feelings of comfort or pleasure that can be brought with a credit card. Just because I can't imagine it doesn't mean it can't be so. It's also not clear to me that everyone will consider the same things to be luxuries, or that said luxuries are required to be in short supply all 'round.

Yet another luxury in today's world is free time. All workers, from those earning minimum wage to those earning six figures, complain of the busy pace of modern life. Earning a high income and buying lots of goods and services offers no special status in this regard. High-earning lawyers and doctors are suffering from the same tensions as all the rest. Spending money on massages or on housecleaning services can ease the pressure a bit, but cannot eliminate it.

I agree with you that time is arguably our most precious commodity, therefore I would submit that paying someone to clean my house so that I can spend more time with my family really and truly is buying time! Changing the oil in our cars, baking bread from scratch, growing our own vegetables, repairing leaky roofs and a whole litany of other activities can be accomplished by most anyone if they set their minds to it; however, I daresay not many choose to squander all their time doing all these tasks (though some may choose to do the ones they enjoy most). Rather, we each choose a balance between that which we can afford to spend time on and that which affords us extra time to devote to things that are more meaningful to us (constrained, of course, by what we can afford to pay for).

If you think of luxury in this new way, there is no such thing as a savings plan which is too “extreme.” It does not make sense to view steps in the pursuit of more fun, more freedom, and more fulfillment in negative terms. So long as those are the goals of your savings plan, you deny yourself nothing in going after them ever more intently.

Sorry, I can't agree with this bit at all.

This comes back to the notions of "need versus want", a slippery slope indeed, and "today versus tomorrow".

If you think about it, human beings need very little to survive, for example indoor plumbing, electricity, grocery stores, ... Humankind survived for many years before all these inventions. Unless you've eschewed all these, you won't convince me that you've reverted to a minimalist in terms of your consumption, thus I won't accept your less-is-better contention above (or criticism of others' consumer habits).

The fact is, everyone prioritizes their wants as they see fit, and we all draw the line a little differently; exhibit A: the sub-thread where someone enumerated a list of foolish consumption choices, and a couple of people have picked nits with the list because it overlapped with their "gotta have it" list to some extent. No matter which list you come up with, and no matter how self-evidently wasteful all the items appear to you, if you ask enough people you'll likely hit at least one that can reasonably (to them) justify any given item on the list.

Further, the question of how much to give up today for an anticipated tomorrow (which may never arrive) cannot, methinks, be answered for everyone in one generality. We all need to make our own choices there.

Generalizing with the best of them (that means you, hocus :-),

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