Philip Brewer posted a very interesting article on WiseBread.com the other day, which sparked an equally interesting conversation in the comments. The topic was Choosing a Luxury Eccentricity; ie, a certain hobby/area of your life on which you are willing to spend extra money for luxury.
The luxury eccentricity “trick”, as it’s described, works like this:
1. It makes it clear that you’re not stingy, depressive, a miser, or a person who has no life.
2. It justifies your frugality in other areas.
Now, the idea that your spending habits need to be accepted by your peers is a bit of a sad truth. Brewer’s article mentions the idea that if you spend more frivolously in one area, and demonstrate the joy that it gives you, then your peers will be more “comfortable” with the frugal behavior in the rest of your life. From either side, it’s a bit unsettling. I wouldn’t want my friends to feel “uncomfortable” because of how I choose to spend or not spend my money. Likewise, I wouldn’t want to change my spending behavior solely to make others more comfortable.
However, this is indeed a common social issue. Let’s say a group of friends and I meet up for a nice dinner. What happens when the bill comes? Typically everyone splits it evenly, but tonight I only had a cup of chowder and don’t feel like I should have to pitch in for everyone else’s meal. This makes paying the bill more of a math class, and some people are going to be annoyed with my objection.
I’d say the closest thing I have to a luxury eccentricity is photography equipment. If I inform everyone at the table that I just purchased a $1,400.00 lens, will that make my behavior more acceptable?
In the end, I do like the idea of choosing a luxury eccentricity. If for no one else, it does make me feel like less of a cheapskate and sort of assures that I’m serious about my hobby. I also agree that if this luxury is a person’s passion, then it’s worth the expense if you can budget around it. By the way, this doesn’t mean I’m going to stop bargain-hunting for camera equipment.
What’s your take on the idea of a luxury eccentricity?