When it comes to spending a lot of money to impress friends, that’s when it gets interesting. Not because I think it’s a good idea, but instead because it’s fascinating how far some folks are willing to go to look good to other people. Clearly, other people and their opinions can really dictate the spending patterns of many people.
This comes to mind as I recently heard about the ongoing saga of a friend of mine who’s desperately trying to avoid spending money on a kitchen remodel that his wife wants to do. This has been going on for some time. Frankly, I had been thinking that this was an example of a good time to compromise with your spouse on money as I’ve written before in my description of the situation.
When I say compromise, I meant he could have taken the approach that sometimes it’s better to be happy than “right”, and try to be open to spending some money on this remodel she wants. Maybe they could meet in the middle, by cutting other expenses and maybe getting a mid-range kitchen update instead of a fancier one. It’s smart for a guy to have a happy wife.
Well, apparently it isn’t quite that simple. Since writing that last piece, I’ve some to find out that she doesn’t want any ordinary kitchen. Instead, she wants a super nice, upscale kitchen. Not just an updated one, but a brand new one with all the bells and whistles.
This can’t be cheap. I searched for the average cost of kitchen remodels, and quickly found this article on Better Homes and Gardens which referenced some information that showed that the average remodel cost around $54,000. However, it then stated that the cost of upscale remodels was about $108,000!
Think about that – $108,000 for a new kitchen. That’s simply unfathomable to me.
According to him, she feels like it’s embarrassing for her to have people over with a kitchen that’s dated. Their circle of friends is doing well financially, and the people she’s concerned about are actually her long-time friends. I’ve met those friends of theirs a few times, and they seem nice. They also seem well off and successful, and live in a very nice area. He admits that they have kitchens and homes that are updated and better for entertaining.
This seems to really bother her, and he makes it sound like she feels like she’s missing something she should rightfully have based on where she is in her life. Again, this is all from his perspective.
As I mentioned, I had previously written that I thought he should compromise. That still sounds good in spirit, but I have some sticker shock at those prices, even as an innocent bystander. Moreover, the notion of doing all this just to impress other people seems nutty.
So, while suggesting that continues to take an approach of teamwork and compromise, here are some things I think he can also bring up regarding why it makes no sense to spend money just to impress others:
- Opportunity cost. Instead of spending $100k, maybe they could spend $40k on something new but not ostentatious. That incremental $60k could be put to use in a variety of ways:
- Paying down their existing mortgage
- Saving for their kids’ future college expenses
- Setting money aside for health or other emergencies
- Helping parents with future financial expenses
- Giving money to those in need
- Taking 5 to 10 amazing family trips that their kids will remember forever
- No tangible benefit. What is the ROI of this money spent? Are these people going to help you make more money? I doubt it. This is just money spent to look good to others, with zero financial return. Seems like a silly investment, if again the purpose is to impress them (or not look bad)
- What you have is likely good enough anyway. Look, I’ve seen their kitchen and while it’s older and probably dated, it’s still nicer than what more than half of the people out there have. It’s also in a bigger home that’s in a pricey area with nice schools, so it’s not like they’re suffering there. It’s hard to feel like anyone who’s probably in the top 5% in terms of income or net worth is missing out on good things.
- True friends will like you regardless. If someone doesn’t want to hang out with you because you don’t display material wealth at the same level that they do, then what does it say about them? It’s not worth bothering to impress them. Good friends aren’t going to turn on you for living modestly.
So, have I completely turned on my advice of being open to compromise? No, I still think it’s good for people to respect each other enough to be willing to think of mutual happiness. That being said, I now think that these are some considerations that could be brought up as reasons to not spend excessively to impress others. Maybe this will get different thoughts flowing, and alleviate the need to compromise 🙂
What do you think?
My Questions for You
What do think of these reasons listed above, regarding why it can be a waste to spend to impress others?
Have you ever spent money to impress others?
What are your thoughts on this situation?