Sunday, December 7, 2008

gym fees and shopping sprees: conspicuous v inconspicuous consumption

I recently read a study that found money can buy happiness--if you know where to shop. This got me thinking a lot about conspicuous versus inconspicuous consumption.

Conspicuous consumption refers to pricey clothing, snazzy jewelry, and fabulous shoes. You know, those things that you buy for yourself--and incidentally for everyone else to see.

Conspicuous consumption does nothing for happiness after a certain degree of basic needs are met. What would make us happier is inconspicuous consumption. That is, longer vacations, more time with friends, and other leisurely folly.

This all came to head yesterday as I found myself once more contemplating life alongside the latest pieces of one of my favorite fashion designers. I believe that clothing is worth a pretty penny if it fits well and you feel great in it. Yet I have come to discover a trend among all those pretty pennies I have been spending.

My closet is teeming. In fact, all of my clothes do not even fit in it. I have so many dresses crammed in such close proximity--and I have not a thing to wear. What looked great two weeks ago is boring and ugly and fits poorly this week. And that is when I realized, that maybe I just don't know where to shop.

Yes. I could have dropped more than I should have on that red dress that would be quite stunning on Monday night at the Christmas party that I am going to. Or, I could take that money and buy plane tickets to visit very dear friends in New York and Louisiana.

Amidst these buzzing thoughts, I did a quick inventory check. Of all the new items I have been so pleased to bring into my collection, none of them have made me any happier. In fact, not many of them retain their original flare in my heart (that's not to say I don't like anything--it's just that buying new things all of the time doesn't make me feel any better about what is really bothering me).

Today, after years of being frugal with my gym fees and loosey goosey in my shopping sprees, I decided it was time to reprioritize my finances and focus on inconspicuous spending. I am at the gym nearly everyday--it is an important part of my life and my health--and I keep going back to my usual shit hole because it costs me 12 dollars a month (I've been a member forever). However, what would truly improve the quality of my day is working out in a beautiful, upgraded, hygienic atmosphere with luxurious amenities to boot.

A few hours ago, I did just that. Such a better work out. Such a better day. Such a better bang for my buck.

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