I watched Seeking a Friend for the End of the World last night.
(Incidentally, do not watch an end-of-the-world movie right before bedtime. When you wake up in the middle of the night, you’ll start pondering things that make it hard to go to back to sleep.)
It reminded me of a recent Facebook post by someone I know.
It was a bit rambling, since it was in the form of a very short story. But the gist was that:
- He used to spend a lot of money at strip clubs
- A lot of money
- He feels a little bad about how much he used to spend
- He still doesn’t save, but now he spends on travel, etc.
One bit of this post really caught my frugal eye:
“Still not saving for the future, though. What if I get hit by a comet tomorrow? All that hypothetical money I’d have saved would have done me no good. If I get hit by a comet tomorrow, at least the last thought I’ll have is, ‘Man, I’m glad I bought those Spanish olive oil tortas last night and shared them with friends– *comet*,’ instead of, “Well, that $6.50 I saved by not enjoying food is going to do me a fat load of good right now, isn’t it– *comet*.'”
Definitely funny. But… you’re not gonna get hit by a comet. Or a meteor.
It’s highly unlikely (about one in 500,000) that you’ll be zapped by lightning — and you could very well live to tell the tale anyway.
You probably also won’t die in a plane crash or even a car accident. The chances of a 30-something, even a heavyset one, having a heart attack aren’t that high either.
No, more than likely he’ll live at least into his 60s or even well into retirement. At that point, he will live to regret those tortas — or, at least, the cumulative effect of the torta mindset.
Don’t get me wrong, travel is great. If your options are to throw money at strippers or into travel, I’d definitely advocate the latter. Not that I judge strip club patrons. I’ve been to one myself, and it was quite the experience.
But those aren’t his only two options. There are plenty of others. Most notably, contribute to a vacation fund, but also to crazy things like a house fund or retirement. Or how about crazily churning rewards credit cards like Holly over at Club Thrifty?
It aggravates me that this perfectly sensible, smart guy is so complacent. That he’s okay spending money on anything so that he doesn’t regret everything.
Also, why does saving for the future exclude tortas?
I guess people still think that frugality — or even just saving for the future — is an all-or-nothing venture. That’s just depressing.
I thought, perhaps naively, that the recession made people realize that you can enjoy life without giving up all indulgences. If they did learn that lesson, most have already forgotten it. Even as people say the economy still hasn’t recovered.
I didn’t realize how pervasive this trend was, until Cashville Skyline’s recent post. It made me realize that frugality hype may be everywhere, but people, by and large, aren’t practicing it.
As Cashville pointed out, frugality is even in reality show form now. But how often do you watch Real Housewives or Kardashians and throw tables, day drink or buy a Bentley?
No, these things get watched more in horrified fascination than actual inspiration. I know I couldn’t handle watching Extreme Couponers.
These shows are hurting the frugal cause more than helping it. They mock people who are working very hard — if perhaps a tad too manically — to save money. And they also reinforce the idea that you have to be rabid to be money-conscious.
No wonder people think that you can either have a retirement account or a specialty food.
Do you ever run into this kind of weird rationalization? Have you ever been the one spouting it?