How to Spend Money Wisely » Shopping

Spending Money Wisely

I don’t know if you knew this, but I happen to be living in Vancouver, BC, the current city of the Winter Olympics. I work in downtown Vancouver, so I’ve seen first hand the result of having the world come to your doorstep. Vancouver has always been a busy city, but when you double the amount of traffic and triple the pedestrians, well, let’s just say that I won’t be sad when the world goes back home.

That being said, there is definitely an undeniable sense of patriotism that I’ve seen around the city. We Canadians aren’t always as overt as our southern cousins when it comes to nationalistic pride, but we’ve always been proud to be Canadian. But until these Olympics came, we’ve just never worn it on our sleeves.

But now when I walk down the streets I feel like I’m swimming in a sea of red. Team Canada jerseys, sweatshirts, gloves, and flags, there is something with a maple leaf everywhere that I go. Even some friends of ours that were coming over for a weekend to see the Olympic for themselves picked up a couple of jerseys to show their Canadian pride. But that’s when it hit me. The Olympics are half over, our friends are only here for 48 hours, and they still decided to spend close to $400 on two Canadian jerseys.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for showing a little pride in your country, or cheering on your team. My question, however, is whether or not those jerseys will ever be worn again. Sure they might be fun to wear for a weekend, but was it really worth it? Would you have got less out of a weekend if you didn’t have the jerseys? If you looked at a long term plan for the next year, or heck, even the next month, would you consider that expenditure a good decision? Well, if you were planning on getting jerseys anyways, and had already saved up for them, then sure, why not? But if you decided to get it in the moment, just because everyone else is getting one, or because it might be fun, then perhaps you should pause for a second and reconsider your purchase.

Why? Because you’re investing a lot of money in something that will give you short term joy. You wouldn’t pay $12 for a three minute song you’re going to listen to once, you wouldn’t pay $75 for a children’s book your kid will never touch, and you wouldn’t invest $300 into a video game console if you don’t play video games. That just doesn’t make sense. You should spend your money in places that will return the most joy. Buy something that will last you a long time, or pay for an experience that you could only have once.

The more I thought about this, the more I realized that this doesn’t just apply to jerseys. What other purchases have I made that had low or no return? I think for me, one of the biggest sinks of my money was DVDs. I would spend $8, $10, $15 on movies – good movies, quality movies that I loved – but I dislike watching a movie more than once. So yes, I felt good that I had supported the actors, directors, and producers of a fantastic film – but I would never watch it again!

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that spending money on expensive things are bad. A lot of the time, the more expensive option makes more sense financially, because it also represents a higher value. I’m not trying to debate the quality of the purchase, I’m asking you whether or not you consider the purchase a wise decision. Do you need to buy that fancy new cocktail dress – when you work from home and would only wear it once? Should you spend a lot of money on high quality organic milk – when you’re lactose intolerant? What purchases are you making without even thinking about whether or not you should?

What do you spend your money on? Do you consider your spending choices wise? Why or why not?


  1. Zachary

    I’m in Vancouver too! I’ll be glad when it is over too, but I’m really enjoying all of this chaos!

    The one thing I spend my money on that I feel guilty for is the famous Starbucks beverage! I’m well aware of the “latte factor” and that small purchases add up, but I choose to frequent Starbucks anyway. Why? Because it is not a daily thing, and *only* when I’m with friends. It’s purely a social thing, and I don’t want to be the only guy who isn’t sipping something yummy.

    I also splurge on premium denim/designer jeans… But a $300 pair can last 2+ years, and they are worn probably twice a week each, so I feel like they are a valid purchase. I honestly feel better about myself when I’m in top-of-the-line jeans, so that’s an added benefit too.

  2. Forest

    With these kinds of events it’s so easy to get caught up in the crowd mentality…. However I think it’s cool in some ways… I just wish the money from these Jersey sales were not lining fatcats pockets and were actually going to help locla communities, especially maybe some of the inuite communities that in Canada that are in serious need of the help….

    With DVD’s I think things like Netflix help a lot of people from the buying urge and are relatively little in monthly costs….

    Thanks for another great article,


  3. Johnny Mean

    I live in Vancouver too and see the crowds wrapped in the excitement. I place no value in the the marketed collectibles, but when traveling people do enjoy their mementos or souviners.
    That said, for some people this will be the most exciting experience in their lives, and sure there will be some buyers’ remorse, but they’ll all be dead in 80 yrs, and going to the Olympics is a better story than, ” I saved some money”
    All the dollar value judgments are really relative to income;individual perspective are a moot point. So is it “a lot” of money? I agree with you all, If you can’t pay………..don’t play, but you won’t take it with you either.
    Unless you’ve spent money on a disaster preparedness kit(IE Earthquake), I could rationalize you’re all fools for not planning and spending wisely. ;).

  4. The Rat

    I visited Vancouver in 2009, and I found things to be very expensive in the downtown area. I remember eating a ‘fish n chips’ platter and a beverage and it came to like 40 bucks. I find downtown areas in any big city to be expensive in general though.

    @Zachary: I used to have that feeling with Starbucks which is why I go to Second Cup. I bought shares in Second Cup a few years ago (SCU.UN – now offers a 13% yield) and every time I go for a coffee there, at least I know that I’m somehow investing ‘in myself’. That way, I don’t feel guilty if I don’t perk my own coffee at home!

    Nice post.

  5. youngandthrifty

    @The Rat where did you go for $40 fish and chips? I find Vancouver to be the cheapest and best place to eat (especially SUSHI- no where else can you get all you can eat sushi that is fresh for $12 after 9pm).

    I’m from Vancouver too! I was kind of glad that the Olympics were over (so can finally catch up on some much needed sleep).

    At least your friends didn’t shell out $20,000 for a ticket to watch the gold medal hockey! Apparently people had $10,000 cash in their pockets waiting outside GM place so they could get some tickets!

    The line-ups at the Bay were ridiculous too! They were a block long, wrapping twice to wait until the store opened. The sweatshirts were sold out and everything was being scalped on craigslist. My boyfriend had an offer of $120 for his sweatshirt that we bought for $55.

    That being said, the line ups for ANYTHING were ridiculous. =) We hosted a good party, minus some of the shortcomings in the beginning =(

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