Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Only One More Post About Money, I Promise

So Gaurav at Gauravonomics has decided to go "off consumption" for a year. (His chronicle of the events can be found here.)

Unlike his predecessors No Impact Man and the people at The Compact, he's not giving up consumption for environmental reasons. He's doing it to gain "insights into what drives us to consume, or not, into the nature of consumption, into human nature itself."

Oh, and he's crossing his fingers for a book deal. ^__^

I support his choice while at the same time part of me goes "What's so special about not buying stuff? Hundreds of thousands of people already know what it's like to pass by a restaurant or store window and not be able to go in, even though you really want to."

Part of me, truth be told, is jealous. I should have rewritten these past few months of enforced frugality as an "off-consumption" experiment and tried to net me a book deal.

But, as Gaurav notes, actual poverty is different from "giving up buying." Today he offered the interesting observation:

Actually, if I did have financial problems, I probably wouldn’t have been able to turn my frugality into a public performance. Only because I feel secure, in terms of both money and status, I can be confident enough to do it.
The moral seems to be: when you're poor, you do what you can to appear better-off, even if it negatively affects your cash flow (e.g. buying interview clothes on credit for a job that may or may not materialize).

When you're financially comfortable, as Gaurav and No Impact Man are (No Impact Man allowed his wife to spend $1,000 on two pairs of shoes before the experiment began, to make up for the lack of shopping to follow), then frugality becomes a statement which can be worn proudly.

Gaurav, I await the riposte. ^__^


Gaurav Mishra said...

@Blue: No riposte, only a long distance hug.

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