How Penny Spends So Little: She Doesn’t Value Much of Anything (Much Less Cheese)

Dear Rich,


Well, what can I say about your Philosophy of Money and the Meaning of Life? You’ve made some great points that I can’t really argue with. I admire what you want to do with your money. It is aligned with values I hold dear as well.

It seems that when many people earn money, they acquire a lot more material things to go with it. Rich people tend to move into big houses, even though they have a very small number of people in their family. Or they’ll have more than one house. I’ve never understood that. Seems like such a waste to me. I’m glad that’s not the case with you.

I still don’t fully understand how one goes about spending millions of dollars (I’ve seen Brewster’s Millions, it doesn’t seem like an easy task) when the MOST valuable things in life can be acquired for a lot less. But, I digress. You’ve made some good points.

I’ve been actually working, in my own personal life, on learning how to spend MORE money. I’m no good at spending money. I am naturally inclined to not spend, to make due, and I get a tremendous high out of getting things for free. For example, here’s a ridiculous story about wanting something just because it was free.

My kids and I went to this Night Before New Year’s party at a rec center a couple of weeks ago. There was a DJ there, holding a dance party. He announces that they accidentally ordered an extra Fish Sandwich from Burger King, and did anybody want it. I quickly told my son to go up there and get it for himself. Afterward, I wondered why I did that. See, like you, I value eating healthy. I’ve never even taken my kids to a fast food restaurant. I didn’t even WANT him eating that fish sandwich. Yet, the minute I understood that it was FREE, I jumped at the chance to obtain it. Crazy, eh?

Anyway, for the past couple of years, in learning how to spend more money, I’ve given myself permission to spend money on things that I value. To spend with intention and to be grateful for it. This is working out pretty well for me. I spend money on the little things that I value and I don’t feel guilty about it.

But also, what I’ve learned, is that I don’t really value much. I went to a fancy salon to get my hair cut once, and I didn’t think it was much more impressive than Great Clips (most of the time I just cut my hair myself at home anyway). We went to a fancy Brazilian Steakhouse for our anniversary once, but by the end of the night, we left just as sick and full and vowing to never do that again as when we’ve eaten at the Golden Corral.

So, the things I actually value are quite limited, I’ve found. Especially things that carry higher prices compared to what you can get cheaply.

I value a good razor over a cheap one.

I value minimalist footwear, going to the movies, and decorating my house to create a warm and cozy environment (hygge!). I value good food. I value new experiences and adventures and vacations, but they don’t necessarily need to come at a hefty price. For example, when we vacation, we’ll often road trip and spend $10 on a campsite (or find a free campsite) instead of spending $100 on a hotel because we don’t value the hotel enough to go there (although, it has come close… because camping kind of sucks sometimes).

I value ice cream.

Sometimes I wonder how (rich) people like you don’t just go out to eat ice cream all the time. What’s stopping you? My husband and I LOVE to go to the Coldstone Creamery. This place has the most amazing ice cream, but it costs over $5 per serving, so we don’t go there very often. We’ll wait until we get a BOGO (Buy One Get One) offer from their email list, and go then. If we had a ton of money, what would be stopping us from going there all the time? I wonder what it’s like to live like that, where you have no financial limitations on what you want or don’t want. Where the value of $10 wouldn’t mean anything anymore.



P.S. I read the book Seinfeldia, which you had mentioned awhile ago. What a good book. So nostalgic and fun to read. Do you ever watch Seinfeld‘s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee? He had Julia Louis-Dreyfuss on one episode, and she talked about something her mom had said to her in terms of happiness. This is what she said:

You have to always have something to look forward to. And it can be a very minor thing and it can be a major thing, but you have to always have something you’re looking forward to next.

I like that. It rings true to me. Whether it’s a vacation on the horizon, an upcoming book club, an ice cream date with my husband, or a long hot bath at the end of the day… it’s nice having something to look forward to. (And, like I said, those things don’t have to cost a fortune.)

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