Thursday, September 28, 2006

Luxury of the Poor

I heard somewhere that Starbuck's is the luxury of the poor. People that can't really afford a $4 coffee are springing for it because it feels like a small luxury and something that they can count on every day. It makes them feel included and exlusive, after all it is "the best". This concept has me thinking through what other little pleasures could be considered the luxury of the poor. What am I purchasing to make myself feel included and luxurious?

I can say for sure that for me it is makeup. As I read through any fashion magazine, I realize that I have been like a sheep to the slaughter/cash register buying up all the editor's favorites. It almost rings of propoganda and conspiracy when I realize that I have "chosen" to buy certain repeated favorite and most popular items. There is the Nars Orgasm color blush, the Nars Dolce Vita lipstick, the Shu Uemera eyelash curler, the Rosebud lip salve, and don't even get me started on the products that give volume to fine hair, most often Phyto Actif at a startling $26 for a petite bottle.

Does buying these things make me feel luxurious and included? You bet they do! Is $26 for a lipstick really a reasonable price? I think not.

So why do these little luxuries have such a hynotizing affect on us? The included part is a huge draw. When I read those magazines and already have one of those selected products, I feel affirmed in my decision making. Isn't it startling how much these lists influence your buying decisions. I go to the store already wanting to buy a certain color because I've been programmed to know that a certain celebrity or editor recommends it. So what if there is another color better. Well I may not even look at another color because it hasn't been recommended. Or I may feel such an emotional attachment to that recommendation already that I buy it anyway.

I like to think that I make good, sound financial decisions to meet my needs, but I can see in my own life how I give myself these luxuries that actually add up and may harm me financially. This is true especially if you are using credit for any of these purchases. Heaven forbid that you are putting Starbuck's on a credit card and paying interest to boot.

I am going to say that the boom on handbag sales can also be classified as luxury of the poor. They have created whole lines of status bags classified as "medium" price range, and that's around $400-$500! For me, that would be very high price range, but that is an example of how marketing affects our thinking regarding luxury. If they can convince us that that price is average, then better for them.

The point of this blog entry is to get you thinking about your little luxuries, how they make you feel, and how they are affecting your financial situation? Ask yourself "What are you really buying?". Be honest and dig deep. The power that marketing holds over us is STRONG and strong probably isn't even a strong enough word. I would venture to say we are sometimes powerless against it. That is unless we can look it in the face and recognize it for what it is.

So look at your current obssession and see what you are really getting for it. Is it inclusion into a select group? Is it a "I deserve it" reason? Are you feeling deprived and buying that Starbuck's makes you feel a little rich? Are you making up for a childhood of hand-me-down's? (Me, raising my hand.) Or maybe you just don't like to think about money and have bought into the belief/lie that you must buy those things and you "need" them.

I'll be digging deep in my own psyche as well. Have fun and let me know what you discover in there!

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I also find myself running to the store to buy the latest beauty editor picks -- I'm particularly prone to the recommendations in Oprah's magazine as well as handbags, shoes and perfumes. Keep up the wonderful writing! It's an inspiration!

Leah said...

I am glad to read your posts again! One author made a fortune describing the "Latte Factor" and how we all have little things in our life that we spend money on that we really don't need to. I will not buy anything now that has a logo or any ohter identifiable feature. I try to keep myself from falling into the trap of buying things for the label and to have others know how much I spent on something (status items). I have spent the summer making my wardrobe very streamlined and my beauty routine as well. I try to stick to classic styles and classic colors. I also stick to one or two makeup/skincare lines. I am trying to prevent the impulse buy and the desire to purchase new trends (which I don't end up liking very much anyway). I read that some nail polish from Chanel is sold out in stores and is now selling on ebay for $100!!! For black nail polish! Just so you can say "It's Chanel" when someone comments on it. Thank you for reminding us what is important and what is just clutter and a waste of time and money!

Miss XaXa said...

My name is Tara and I am addicted to Sephora! :)
My thought on the topic: If you have $$ in the bank, you're paying the bills, and you have a retirement plan, then I consider these little indulgences to be harmless. After all, good "scents" are good for the spirit! Right? And I love, LOVE the scent of my Lorac lipgloss! Especially while enjoying a vanilla latte....... ;)

cathleen56 said...

Welcome back! Are you posting from Wyoming? How is it?

Reading this has made me feel a little bit smug, not an attractive attribute for sure, but I was seriously considering spending $175 on makeup at Barney's so I could get their bag of samples! Worh $300, mind you! But then I remembered that I still have a basket of little samples of stuff I got from the last beauty promotion that I still haven't used. It feels good to resist.

Sandal Showcase said...

I am definitley one of those "starbucks a day" kinda people. You made a great point about this being a simple luxury for the not-incredibly-rich!
I also like to splurge on fancy dinners, clothes, and SHOES!

PS I think this is a great blog...how do i go about contacting you about a link exchange?

Me= sandalshowcase@hotmail.com

thanks!

Rosanna

Sales Rack Raider said...

Wonderful post! Just found your blog today.

I don't indulge in designer clothes/accessories or high-end makeup (can't afford them, and I could care less about status). However, my "little luxury" weakness is food. The place I work at is close to some nice restaurants, and my workplace has no microwave. I could have gone to McD's for something cheap or brought a sandwich, but instead I opted for takeout from those restaurants. I figured that since I'm pounding away at work and in school, get no sleep, etc., I should at least eat well. Since the portions are fairly big, I often get the most of my lunch by turning it into two meals, but it's still expensive.

A couple of weeks ago I realized that it's really adding up since lunch amounts to almost one hour's wages, and I don't work that many hours a week. Thinking in those terms was enough of a wake-up call, so I made some changes since then. But I couldn't help but indulge in a $5 fruit tart as dessert yesterday...

Anonymous said...

WOW!! YOU SURE HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD...I HAVE TRIED STARBUCKS SEVERAL TIMES BECAUSE IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE SO GOOD AND HONESTLY A REGULAR CUP OF COFFEE IS JUST A CUP OF JOE TO ME...JUST DECIDED MY DOLLARS CAN GO TO SOMETHING I WILL ENJOY MORE AND THAT WILL LAST LONGER!! cLOTHES..YEAH, CLOTHES ARE IMPORTANT -BUT----MY LITTLE SHORT, SLIGHTLY OVERWEIGHT BODY JUST DOESN'T SEEM TO FIT FASHION FAVES, SO I'M TRYING TO LEARN TO LEAVE FASHION ALONE AND JUST LOOK FOR GOOD PIECES & COLORS THAT MAKE ME FEEL GOOD AND MAYBE MAKE MY SMILE LOOK BRIGHTER...SO THERE!!!!! DELO

Anonymous said...

Ha. I don't go to Starbucks anymore but last summer I would go there everyday for coffee. It did make me feel kind of "exclusive" but I quickly realized that the coffee sucks and $100+ a month for coffee is INSANE.

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