The baby is asleep and I should be catching up on work right now, but instead I just took a detour over to Frugal Dad’s website, and came across this article about a Rolex versus a Timex. Reading the article and the comments is a fascinating look into the viewpoints of a wide variety of people from various walks of life. I’m guessing that most of the readers we frugal bloggers have are not multi-millionaires, so it makes sense that most of the comments went something along the lines of “what a waste of money a Rolex is.” But there were several people who didn’t see it that way at all, and one person who pointed out that for someone who earns $2.5 million a year (and gives $700K to charity), a Rolex is chump change. Very true.
If you’re a regular reader on my site, I’m sure you know where I stand on this issue. I’m one hundred percent in agreement with Frugal Dad when he says “Even if I had an extra $27k I could think of a hundred charities I would rather support, or dozens of strangers I could help, rather than spending that kind of money on a watch.” I sold my engagement ring and bought a ring with a man-made diamond, so a Rolex is obviously something that I would never want in a million years. But I find it fascinating that so many people obviously do like things like Rolex watches, Fendi bags, Christian Leboutin heels, and Lamborghinis.
There are so many ways to look at things like this. There’s the time factor that Frugal Dad pointed out – which is a very good point. But there’s also the idea of “voting with your dollars.” Every time we spend money on something, we’re supporting a particular industry, company, or person. For example, when I bought my man-made diamond ring, I was supporting highly skilled lab workers in the US and gold mines in Canada, rather than diamond and gold mining cartels in Africa with wage and labor standards that are a bit questionable. (of course we did buy a standard ring the first time around, but you live and learn). When I shop at thrift stores, I’m supporting all sorts of charitable programs, giving things a second life (and keeping them out of landfills) and eliminating the need for new goods, many of which are produced in sweatshops in developing countries. When I buy organic food, I’m supporting a way of life and agriculture that I feel is crucially important for the health of our planet and ourselves. The list goes on…
We do have a house. It’s a lot more house than the vast majority of people in the world have – I realize that. And we have two cars, although they were both made back when MC Hammer was super cool, so I think we get points for being non-materialistic when it comes to our rides. We have a TV that my husband bought in about 1995. We have a Nintendo 64 with Mario Karts. We have four bicycles (gulp! – but we did buy all of them used) and two unicycles. There’s not really anything that we need that we don’t have. One of the comments on Frugal Dad’s post talked about how you can’t be high and mighty about materialism unless you’re living in a mud hut with a grass roof and no running water (incidentally, during the two years I lived in Africa, I had no electricity, no running water, and lived in a mud-brick house). This is a very good point, and serves as a good reminder to those of us who do sometimes feel a bit smug about our non-spendy ways. Most of us here in the US are still doing pretty darn well. The very fact that we can spend time debating the merits of various watches demonstrates that quite well. And just for the record, I have a Timex. Although ever since my son was born, I haven’t been wearing a watch at all.