My Top Ten List of Things to Waste Money On

financial planning for attorneys financial planning for entrepreneurs financial planning for retirement financial planning for young professionals Jun 05, 2020

By Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®

This is a really personal list.  It is complied from years of observing the human condition and reading good novels.  It is intended to be humorous, yet I’m fully aware that it might hit some raw nerves.  So for the intrepid souls out there, read on . . .

Counting down to number one, we have:

#10.  Beer

Now I enjoy a brew as much as the next guy, but why spend a lot of money on something you’re going to literally piss away?  Why not get a whisky instead?  You’ll get the same buzz and not have to keep running to the gents.

#9.  Cine Bistro

Go once if you don’t believe me, but you’re going to drop $125 on a movie and a meal for two.  How much nicer to dine at a proper restaurant and then go see a show afterwards for the same money. 

#8.  True Religion jeans

One of my daughters used to work at True Religion in Dadeland Mall.  Spending $300 for denim that is faded and torn is . . . well, I just don’t get it. 

#7.  Bentley SUV

I’m certainly not going to say that I don’t appreciate luxury in an automobile.  But Porsche/Bentley/Rolls Royce SUVs?  Come on.  Conspicuous consumption, pure and simple.  Side note:  I did notice Dwayne Wade driving a Rolls Royce SUV in front of Dadeland Mall one day.  A giant tank of a thing.  Probably the only vehicle he could fit into.

#6.  Salons for Men

A salon?  For a dude?  Come on, fellas.  All you need is to look decent.  So get a haircut and take a shave.  I’ve gone to the same guy for over 20 years, it turns out.  Thanks Heladio!  Always does a great job.  $25 a cut, including tip.  I can shave my own beard. 

#5.  Ostentatious designer labels

Similar to #7.  A generic wallet holds my ID and credit cards just as well as a one from Louis Vuitton.  A generic belt holds my pants up just as well as one from Gucci.  I know who I am, and don’t need to find my worth in a designer label.  I certainly do appreciate quality and workmanship, but once again, a $25 Cassio tells the same time as a $10,000 Rolex.  To me, it is a matter of proportion. 

#4.  Starbucks

As in #10, I enjoy a good cup of joe.  Aside from the shock of having to order it from a tatted and pierced barista who looks like something out of Star Wars, Starbucks is just too expensive for every day.  Fine for an occasional treat, though.  Here is a great money-saving tip:  brew your own coffee at home and bring it with you in a travel mug.  Perhaps too nerdy for some, but didn’t Bill Gates wear a T-shirt that said, “Nerds Rule”?

#3.  Cigarettes

I remember as a kid we used to give my father and grandfather a carton of cigarettes as a gift.  Watch an old movie - everyone smoked.  Now, Netflix includes smoking in its warning list:  nudity, extreme violence, and smoking.  As though they are equivalents.  Seems to me that the sale of cigarettes is nearly a money laundering operation for states to collect revenue – they are taxed that heavily.  Then the states use that revenue to help pay for the smokers’ medical care.  Vicious cycle.   Money literally going up in smoke. 

#2.  Tattoos

I just don’t get these.  When I make a purchase, I expect a feature or benefit of the thing I’m buying to meet a need or provide a solution.  What is the need in getting a tat, other than demonstrating one’s gang membership? 

#1.  Lottery Tickets

I’ve heard it wryly said that selling lottery tickets is the only way a state can get poor people to pay taxes.  That may be the case.  But when I’m waiting in line at the Publix service desk for a book of stamps, I see people dropping $40 and $50 bucks at a time on these things!  Then I see them outside Publix, holding a dime, thoughtfully scratching off the boxes, as though there were a strategy to it.  What a colossal waste of money.  Even if a ticket hits, what’s likely to happen?  A further purchase of more tickets.  I get that tickets are, for most people, a bit of entertainment.  But ultimately, lottery tickets are a voluntary tax that I refuse to pay. 

To be fair,

Now, to be fair, I should disclose that there are plenty of things I spend money on that others quite reasonably could consider a waste of money.  Here are a few of them:

  • Hard-cover books. Same stories as paperbacks, but so much nicer on my bookshelves. 
  • First class air travel.  I’m aware that coach arrives at the same time as first, but there’s hardly any legroom there.    
  • Mont Blanc fountain pens, or writing instruments as they are called. I don’t own one, so here’s a Christmas suggestion for you.

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