Good Deals, Great Deals

There are some things I will never understand.

Oprah’s magazine, for instance. This month, it’s called “THE BIG DEAL ISSUE!” And the cover brags, “Everything Oprah’s wearing is under $100!”

Now, I don’t know about you, but just because an item of clothing costs less than $100 does not put it in my definition of a great deal. For instance: $44 earrings.  $95 bracelet. $55 watch. (Do you notice what I haven’t gotten to yet? Uh—CLOTHES?) The entire ensemble adds up to $570. And I don’t even think it’s remotely pretty. Fess up, ladies. Does anyone spend this kind of money on casual clothes? I think not! What universe is this magazine crew living in, anyway?

(Or am I the odd woman out here? Pray tell!)

Every month, O magazine makes me crazy with its pages and pages of “things we love,” not one of which is priced in a range that makes it even remotely interesting to me, even if I liked them, which I almost never do.

And yet, every month in this magazine, there is something wonderful. Usually it’s an essay. This month it’s Martha Beck. Her article is called “The Joy Dividend,” and in it, she talks about a philosophy for spending money. The centerpiece of her strategy is a box that looks like this:

 Martha Beck money chart

Fairly self-explanatory. She says you spend good money on things you both need and LOVE (“LOVE” being far more than mere “love”), pinch pennies on things you have to have but don’t love, and then splurge on category 3 with whatever’s left, and skip the impulse buys that load your life with junk you don’t even really care for.

It’s not a perfect system, mind you. The missing link in this system is giving. She addresses retirement and savings, but not charity. I suppose you could argue that charitable giving falls into the “need” category, but I don’t know anybody who would put that in category 1 (be honest—you do it because you’re supposed to, because it’s the right thing to do, but don’t you spend that money a hundred times in your head?), and as for category 2, charity is certainly not something you should be pinching pennies on.

But aside from that, I adore this philosophy—enough to write a blog post on someone else’s idea. 🙂 . How liberating is it to realize how much of what we spend money on falls into category 4?