COMMENT: We can now buy dance moves, believe it or not. Perhaps you've been across this for some time, but I've just discovered "emotes", which are in popular games like Fortnite for when you want your online avatar to bust a celebratory move after slaying dozens. Who would've thought?
Everyone tends to have their opinions on what's dumb to spend money on – chances are many of us have thought about this quite a bit after making money decisions day in and day out.
But the conversation never gets far. This is because it's hard to discuss stupid things to spend money on before we end up saying or implying that the people choosing to do so are stupid themselves.
People are not stupid; they just have their reasons.
What people think are dumb ways to spend money
Based on a recent online anonymous forum, here are the top things that people consider stupid to spend on:
1. Gaming (in-app purchases, short-lived or unused games, game skins, loot boxes)
2. Cars (luxury cars, buying new or leasing)
3. Gambling (the lottery, pokie machines, online slots)
4. Eating out (frequent takeaways, restaurants)
5. $300 runners (and other high-end, branded clothes)
6. Interest (credit cards and borrowing that could have been avoided)
7. Pyramid schemes
8. Gym memberships (unused ones)
9. Pre-cut (fruit and veg)
10. Drugs (opiates, etc)
11. Collectible toys (the little plastic ones)
12. Car rims
13. Weddings (the over-the-top variety)
16. Bottled water
I'm sure at this point we could get into lengthy arguments about this list and whether spending on these items is always stupid. For many, it depends.
Let's try something more constructive.
Simple criteria for spending
There's no point in judging people and their choices, but there are a couple of easy criteria that can help us make better spending decisions.
The first is whether something fits your plan. If you don't yet have a plan for your incomings and outgoings, start with Sorted's budgeting tool. Once you have an idea of where you want your money to flow, it's easy to make a call whether to buy bottled water or not. Does it fit your plan?
The second relates to your wellbeing. Will the thing you want to spend money on dial it up? Or will you be less well off holistically after the money's gone? This can be a helpful consideration, which brings us back to what money should be for in the first place.
When stubbornness is a virtue
"Dad, can I use my giving money to buy Robux?" asked my gamer son the other day.
"Yeah, nah," I said. "Stick to the plan. That money's for spending on someone else, not yourself."
Online markets for gamers, if you haven't come across this before, are over-the-top insane. Sometimes the currency is virtual, sometimes it's in real dollars (but it's really no wilder than the world of cryptocurrencies).
The other day my son was showing me a "skin" for a weapon that was going for $900. Nine. Hundred. Dollars. I quickly checked with him on whether that was in game currency or real dollars. Everyday New Zealand dollars, it turned out.
Now to put this in perspective, a skin is basically just a decoration. It helps you stand out from other players, but does not help you achieve anything in the game at all. Those "emotes" don't either – it's just downright fun to boogie down onscreen.
Both skins and emotes could easily fail our two tests (especially if you just jump out of your seat and emote a bit yourself instead).
All of which really brought home how stubbornness can be a good thing – when it helps you stick to your plan. I'll definitely have to teach the kids that one.
There are enough stupid things out there to spend money on.
- Get Sorted is written by Sorted's resident blogger, Tom Hartmann (@TomHartmannNZ). Check out the guides and tools from Sorted – brought to you by the Commission for Financial Capability – at sorted.org.nz.