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.