General Question

windex's avatar

Is it ok for me to spend money on non-essential goods without feeling guilty?

Asked by windex (2926points) February 23rd, 2011

I probably need to speak to a therapist about this, but maybe someone here can help.
-This is going to sound odd but just bear with me
So I’m in the process of looking for a mate. Part of it is “upping” my game and wearing fashionable articles of clothing.
I know what looks good, and what goes with what and what colors/style I should pick/wear. (or at least as much as a straight man can know about fashion)

I don’t have an issue with ‘looking good’, my issue is: I can’t bring myself to spend any money on non-essential items when a big chunk of the world population lives in poverty and that there are kids that go to bed hungry every night. Or that there are human beings who die of starvation every day.

I’m not sending the money I ‘don’t spend’ to help them because I don’t believe charity is the answer. It’s all about educating people. And also when you hear about people like Bill Gates donating something like 10…20 billion dollars and things are still the same on this planet, it kind of makes you rethink the whole thing.

So pretty much the reason I’m boring you with all this is because I would feel great shame and would not want ‘wearing a $120 pair of jeans or an $80 tshirt’ be who I am. Those things should not be a priority imho.

What can I do and who can I get an answer from?

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20 Answers

Mikewlf337's avatar

It’s your money so you should spend it however you want and buy whatever you want with your money.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

You did not mention any financial reason not to buy these things, such as you cannot afford them and they would put you in debt. So, I guess those are not issues. What do you do with the ‘extra’ money now? You said you are not giving to charity.

If global poverty is a really big issue for you, have you considered donating to funds which teach trades to people/youth in poverty even in your own country? I ask because perhaps if you felt you were helping with the solution you would feel less guilt about what you have that others do not. I also believe charity only goes so far. “Better to teach a man to fish…”

Also, if the mate you are seeking would not be interested in you in $20 jeans and shirt, they would probably not have the same values you do.

WasCy's avatar

People make their livings and their lives from making and selling you the things that you want, whether they are essential to you or not. The people making them don’t really care – and they shouldn’t. (Advertising and marketing are designed and intended to make the trivial seem essential to you – and that’s the product that they make their livings with. That’s not necessarily a ‘bad’ thing, either, unless they lie or coerce you into purchases you wouldn’t make otherwise.)

None of this is “wrong”, unless the products you buy cause actual overt harm to another to produce. So if you’re buying slaves, for example, or the overt products of slavery, then your purchases are morally bad or at least ‘questionable’. “Blood diamonds” and other such products – including most illegal drugs – figure into the list of “bad” products.

I’m one of those who expects others to do their jobs properly, so I assume that if a product appears in markets that are legal for me to purchase in, then it’s not an overtly bad product. In that case it’s just a question of my own personal finances and budget: can I justify the expense from my own budget?

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Yes it’s okay for you to spend money on non essentials you can afford. No one says you have to buy expensive articles in order to up your look either.

Use the internet to your advantage- spend a day trying on particular brands of clothes to get a feel for what looks good on you and what sizes in those brands you take then go online to store sites and bookmark (or make online wish lists) of stuff you can comparison shop.

Google is great for that too, enter a brand, size and color and it will give you all kinds of options on where to buy and even sort the items by price for you.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Once you have the essentials paid for, what you do with the rest of your money is your business.

tranquilsea's avatar

You need to use your money to achieve the goals you have set for yourself. It sounds as though you have really thought this through. Go ahead and spend it.

PhiNotPi's avatar

You can spend money on non-essential goods as much as you like, as long as you can afford it and it won’t interfere with your ability to buy essential goods. If you can’t afford it, then you probably shouldn’t buy it, but since it sounds like you can afford it, go ahead and spend it. Its your money.

marinelife's avatar

Perhaps that’s just not who you are. You should not force yourself to spend money on clothes. You might end up attracting the wrong kind of person who will not mesh with you.

Why not look at charities that focus on education? Or that you can actually see the result like the heifer project.

SpatzieLover's avatar


I’m with @marinelife on this one completely.

Instead of upping your game, don’t change your game just alter where you choose to play it. In other words, be who you are where you’d feel most comfortable.

Example: my husband & I met at an apartment complex we were both working at. We both met wearing extremely casual clothes. At the time, my husband hadn’t a clue fashion wise. He was shy, immature and naive. I could see that the core of him was sweet, caring and genuine. I might not have had he been wearing a $200+ outfit and met at some random meeting place.

If you like animals, volunteer at a shelter or refuge. If you like to hike, start doing it at more popular locations. If you like to eat healthy, shop at a healthy grocery store. There are people to meet at all of these locales. Be willing to smile and strike up conversation. ;)

Sunny2's avatar

You said you “would not want ‘wearing a $120 pair of jeans or an $80 tshirt’ be who I am. Those things should not be a priority imho.” If you wear them you will be considered that kind of person. It isn’t necessary to spend that much money for those items. Dress like the person you are and if there’s extra money, donate some of it to organizations who exist to help educate people.

perspicacious's avatar

I don’t have a suggestion for what you need to do. But, it’s strange that an adult would ask this question. You can spend your own money any way you wish as long as you keep up with your obligations.

auntydeb's avatar

Why not buy fair-trade garments, ethically produced clothing and organic fabrics. These are generally more expensive anyway than standard stuff and the money supports better standards of production. If you have good clothes you don’t wear, do some clothes swapping. Having enough money to buy quality goods is a privilege, feeling ashamed of it does you a disservice. It’s not necessarily about eschewing quality, but maybe honouring well made things by actually using them well.

holli's avatar

Create a small budget that you can be comfortable with. Spend half of it to spiffy yourself up to a better more suitable standard and then donate the other half. Yes every penny helps. And you can donate to education if you believe that to be the most important thing. In the end you will have successfully put yourself on the market and given to a great cause.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Throwing money at clothing will not necessarily make you well-dressed. And it doesn’t sound like finding a woman who requires expensive clothing will make you happy.

There is a happy medium, which comes in the form of “dress conservatively.” You can get great deals on clothing at places like TJ Maxx and cosignment stores. Find a look that you like and recreate it. You will have an investment in time to get a look that you’re comfortable with. Ask around, and see if your acquaintances will turn up a female who likes to consignment shop, who would be willing to take on updating your look on as a project.

The one exception to spending money for men is to buy good shoes and take care of them. Shining your shoes regularly, have them resoled and reheeled when needed, and have several pairs so you can minimize the wear, can make a pair of shoes last for years, which makes them a good investment.

answerjill's avatar

Depends on the kind of woman you are trying to attract… From what you say about your beliefs, you might be better off with a woman who doesn’t expect you to wear very expensive clothing. Also, when it comes to clothing, more expensive does not always mean better quality. I’d take a mid-range LL Bean sweater over some fancier thing that costs 4 times more.

SABOTEUR's avatar

I think it’s ok to spend your money on whatever you choose to spend it on.

What I don’t think is ok is choosing to make yourself feel bad about your purchases.

What useful purpose does guilt serve if it doesn’t motivate you toward constructive action? Just feeling guilty isn’t helping anybody.

But, as long as you’re intent on feeling bad about your “non-essential purchases”, why not add a few other things to the list? I daresay your internet service, your cell phone service and your cable/satellite tv service should be worth a few sleepless nights.

I’m sure you can think of others…

cynicaldeath's avatar

I believe it is okay for you to spend the your money on whatever you please, and I don’t think you should be ashamed or feel bad about anything. However, I personally think it is really good character that you have for caring about people who live in poverty, and I think you should treasure that good character because it’s just who you are and how you are different from others.

Also, it seems like you would like to contribute to the world by education. There are a lot of organizations that provide you the opportunity to contribute your knowledge to countries that are less fortunate than ours. Maybe you could use that money you saved up to buy a trip to Africa.

My professor volunteered in South Africa for a whole year when he was a teenager. He said, “People often say that the people in South Africa must be grateful of my help. I always reply “No, what I have taught in Africa is nothing compared to what Africa has taught me.”

rooeytoo's avatar

If the $120 jeans feel more comfy, then buy them if you can afford them. And don’t bother feeling guilty.

Donate a predetermined portion of your income to a charity (where the donations actually go to the cause, not the administration of the fund). Keep in mind that even if you starved yourself and gave away every cent you made, it would make very little difference to the world.

Turning on the news these days is enough to make you suicidal. So many bad things, probably things that have always been going on, just that one side of the world didn’t used to have instant access to what was happening on the other side. You didn’t cause these problems, you can’t control them and you can’t cure them. Concentrate only on what you realistically can do.

sarahjane90's avatar

Life is short… buy some nice things if you can afford it! Just enjoy yourself, you don’t need to feel guilty for wearing a nice pair of jeans.

Seelix's avatar

You definitely don’t need to spend $120 to get a nice-looking pair of comfortable jeans. Levis have been the classic staple for a million years, and you can buy a pair of 501s for around $40.

Anyway, as long as you can pay your bills and sock a little money away for a rainy day, you shouldn’t feel guilty about buying nonessentials. Like others have said, if it feels strange to spend a ton on clothing, give some to charity and buy things that are a little less expensive. Seriously, spending that much is not necessary to look stylish.

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