Now that the economic crisis has become a fact of life, there is no shortage to news articles about people cutting back and trying to save money, spurred by the fact that their homes are worth less. On the front page of today's New York Times, there was an article about a town in California where most homeowners are underwater on their mortgages: A Town Drowns in Debt as Home Values Plunge. Almost 90% of the homeowners in Mountain House, CA owe more on their mortgages than their houses are currently worth. Ok, that is scary, but here is the part of the article that made my jaw drop:
Kenny Rogers, a data security specialist, moved into Mountain House last year, buying a foreclosed property on Prosperity Street for $380,000. But the decline in values has been so fierce that he too is underwater.Whoa-- he bought 50 DVDs a month???? I read that and thought this guy must be insane!
He has cut his DVD buying from 50 a month to perhaps one, and is waiting until the Christmas sales to buy a high-definition television. He does not indulge much anymore in his hobbies of scuba diving and flying. “Best to wait for a better price, or do without,” Mr. Rogers, 52, said.
Now, granted, this is my personal bias. I don't own a TV and though I enjoy watching movies, I'm perfectly happy to have the cheapest Netflix plan where you rent a maximum of 2 movies per month. I own a boxed set of Greta Garbo movies because I'm obsessed with her, and one of these days I'll ask someone to give me some James Brown concert footage DVDs too, because that seems like the kind of thing that is worth owning-- and I acknowledge that I am nuts in this respect. But otherwise, I can envision very few instances where owning DVDs is really necessary. And even if you are a huge film buff, do you really need to buy 50 DVDs a month? How do you have time to watch them all!? And how much is a DVD to buy, anyway-- say $20 on average? That would be $1,000 a month on DVDs!
But my point here isn't really to trash DVD buyers-- it's more about the judgments that different people make about others' spending. I still get lots of backlash on a post where I dubbed MBT shoes a don't-buy (and to those commenters may I just say that I never criticized the comfort level of these shoes, I just thought anyone who bought them expecting to have their cellulite melted away was wasting hundreds of dollars. And I stand by my personal opinion that MBT shoes are ugly-- sorry!). Many people have no problem spending lots of money on MBT shoes, but they might think I was nuts for having spent an equivalent amount of money on a Treo PDA. And the 50 DVD guy might think it's crazy to spend $1,800 a month to own a 2-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn.
We can all aim to live our lives without judging others' spending habits, but let's face it: we do it anyway! Has your jaw ever dropped when you heard how much someone else spends on something that you think is unnecessary? Or do you feel you have to spend money on something that other people find absurd? And in these current economic conditions, are these spending habits changing?