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Waste of Money or Valuable Possession?

By , June 3rd, 2010 | 11 Comments »

The other day a friend of mine came over to have dinner. While she was here, she commented on my DVD collection. “What a waste of money,” she said. “You can rent from Netflix for much less. Besides, DVD’s will be obsolete one day and then where will you be?” She didn’t say anything I hadn’t heard before. However, I don’t consider my collection a waste of money. We watch everything we have. We don’t have cable, so the DVD’s are our entertainment. Plus, we’re both huge movie buffs so we really do enjoy the bonus features on the DVD’s. Are there other things we could do with our money? Absolutely. But is it a waste? Not to us. We get full value out of our collection and enjoy it.

While my friend was commenting on my DVD’s, I resisted the urge to call her purses a waste of money. This is a woman who has a new designer purse every season. At $300+ per bag, I consider that a waste of money (talk about obsolescence). I can carry the same bag from Target for years and be perfectly happy. To me, spending big money on a purse four times a year is a waste. But to my friend, those purses are a joy. She loves shopping for them and carrying them around. She would never consider them a waste of money.

So what constitutes a waste of money? We’re tempted to call anything we don’t understand or agree with a waste of money. But those items provide value to someone. When I go into a store I wonder who spends money on half the stuff in there, but someone must, otherwise it wouldn’t be there. Just because I would feel like I was wasting my money if I bought that stuff doesn’t mean that someone else doesn’t find value in it. If they can afford it and will enjoy it, then it’s not a waste of money. Just because it’s not something I want doesn’t automatically make it a waste.

A waste of money can be defined in three ways. First, something becomes a waste of money when it is bought and never used. If you buy something, no matter how much you may want it at the time, and then never use it you’ve wasted your money. If my friend bought all those purses and then never used any of them, she would be wasting her money (unless she was into collecting purses). Similarly, if I never watched any of my DVD’s, that would be money down the drain. To get value out of something you need to use it.

Something is also a waste of money if you can’t afford it. If I was going into debt for my movies (or buying movies when I already had a lot of debt) I would be wasting money. That money would be better used to pay down debt, buy necessities, or save. No matter how much you enjoy something, if you can’t afford it, you are wasting money because you need to put that money toward necessities or debt payments.

Finally, something is a waste of money when you buy it just because everyone else is but you don’t really love it. Take the purses my friend buys. If she didn’t really like them but was buying them just to fit in with her friends, she would be wasting money. Her money would be better spent buying something she loves, not something she is “supposed” to love.

What is a waste of money to one person may provide a lot of value to another. We cannot judge something as a waste of money just because we don’t care for it. Only the person who owns the item can judge whether or not they wasted money on it. So when you’re out amongst friends and you see something that you consider a waste of money, bite your tongue and don’t criticize. They may be thinking the same thing about your most treasured possessions.

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  • Stephan says:

    i couldnt have put this any better. its not fair when people get judged on their purchases, eveyrone has different tastes. what is a great investment for a man (season tickets) is a waste of money for his wife, etc. examples like this showcase that everyone values items differently. i think for the most part consumer goods are a waste because i am givign up money to go on vacation when i buy new toys. many people would disagree with me on that but that doesnt mean my spending money on vacations is a waste!

  • Eric says:

    This is precisely why I hate the tired cliche of “giving up the latte.” You hear it all the time. “For only the price of a latte you could…” or “Do you know how much you’ll save by giving up that daily latte?” For many, that daily latte is a joy that gets their morning started. I used to get one every morning from the same place, made by the same barista. She knew me by name and had my latte ready for me by the time I got up to the counter. It was a big ego boost first thing in the morning.

    When I could no longer afford them, I gave them up. But the point is that some people get their joy from that latte and I get tired of hearing financial articles talk about them like they’re a frivolous expense that are completely unnecessary. Thanks for the great article!

  • McKay says:

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with paying for things that give you true enjoyment (as long as you have the cash to do it, since a little enjoyment on credit can lead to a lot of heartache). However, why not search out ways to get the same enjoyment for less? I am also a big movie buff, but I find the movie rack at my public library quite satisfactory.

  • Neil says:

    Excellent point. Another target for savings is often cable subscription, but what if you love your sport (in my case Soccer)? I eventually did have to give up the cable subscription and I now go to the local bar if there is a match that I want to see. But when I can afford it again I’m renewing my cable subscription!

  • sewingirl says:

    Mine is my internet connection. I cringe every month when I pay the bill ($40), but I truly enjoy this link to the world. I work the night shift, so I treasure the 24/7 accessability, its my only vice.

  • Love it! Great article.

    It’s so true, and something I have only begun to realise recently. If you find enjoyment in it and can afford it, then it’s not a waste of money. And just because you think what someone else is doing is a waste of money, doesn’t mean they see it that way.

    If only we could all be less judgemental.

  • Gail says:

    We too have ahuge DVD/VHS collection. Many of them bought for 50 cents to dollar. Much cheaper than renting and paying for netflix and we can watch our favorites over and over and if we don’t like something out it goes. I suppose people could say all my books are a waste, but I love to read and can’t always get what I want at my local library, so I have a huge library here at home. Once I read a book I decdie to keep it or not.

    I think much of the problem comes in when people are spending money they can’t afford on anything. Good financial management helps you know if you can afford the DVD or $300 purse (yikes!). If the woman with the purse is charging them and carrying those bills for years, she really can’t afford them and I have no idea how she can enjoy carrying a purse around knowing it will take her 3-4 years just to pay it off much less the next one she buys and so on.

  • peggylive says:

    Bravo! I have a vast collection of vinyl record albums, the vast majority of which will never be released on CD that I still enjoy listening to. Now that we have USB turntables I can make mp3 copies of songs for my voice students to listen to as well.

  • CM says:

    sorry to say but a large DVD collection is a huge to waste of money. You talk about using what you have makes it not a waste. So do you watch everyone of your movies every week? I think not, I dare say that there is quite a bit that you do not even move. and even if you did watch them all the time, how boring would they get, kinda hard to be on the edge of your seat all the time when you’ve watched a movie 40 times, lol. For the most part, Movies are one to maybe two hit wonders in general. Not to mention, go a try to sell your movies again, as they got older they are going to be worth far less than when you bought them, especially if you paid sticker shocking price of a brand new released movie. At least with designer purses they can keep value and at least a purse can be enjoyed day after day and if the newness wears off at least it still has utilitarian value after that. So there you have it, you have basically tried to pursuade yourself that your DVD collection isn’t a waste of money cause deep down inside, you know it is!!!

    • Rick says:

      Disagree wholeheartedly. I own over 1000 movies, I bought them because I enjoyed watching every one and to me it’s important to have something tangible. There are movies I’ve probably watched over 20+ times. I still get a sense of enjoyment with each viewing.

  • shstrang98 says:

    Oh yeah they will be obsolete one day. At about the same time all dvd players and drives will magically disappear.
    Amazing that your friend has such a futuristic perspective.
    Please find out where she bought her crystal ball.

    Of course they will be obsolete some day. But unlike laserdiscs the dvd platform has had massive adoption which also means a very large number of dvd players in existence.
    I have probably 500 dvd’s but only about 50 blurays. I will only buy the movies I have on dvd foemat on the BR format if the movie is one I like and the dvd copy looks and/sounds like crap.

    I am continually amazed at how quickly people accept mediocre video/audio from services like netflix streaming when the same films are on BR for just a few bucks more.
    Because of that the BR format will probably never be as popular as dvd.

    And whose money paid for those dvd’s ; I have bet it wasting your money so case closed.

    Your friend would probably think nothing of paying $500 bucks for a pair of shoes, boots or dress.


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