Stop Counting Other People’s Money

A few months ago there was an article called You don’t need that: Average American spends almost $18,000 a year on nonessentials. Shaming people for their spending habits is extremely clickable, so expect to see more of these in the future. This is the basic gist of:

  • Starbucks is a waste of money. Drink Folgers.
  • Buying lunch is a waste of money. Eat leftovers.
  • Books are a waste of money. Go to the library.
  • Amazon Prime is a waste of money. Go to the store.
  • Apple computers are a waste of money. Buy a Hewlett Packard.
  • Renting is a waste of money. Buy a home.
  • Peloton is a waste of money. Go outside.
  • Range Rovers are a waste of money. Lease a Honda.
  • Rolexes are a waste of money. Buy a Tag Heuer.
  • Basketball teams are a waste of money. Give it to charity.


You might read this and think, “I’m not allowed to have an opinion?” Of course you are, but that’s not what these are. They’re personal preference. You might see this as distinction without a difference. I don’t.

“Apple laptops are not the worth extra money” is well, like, just your opinion, man.

“I don’t feel like spending the extra money on a laptop” is personal preference.

“I can’t understand why people waste money on Apple laptops when they can get the same thing for like half the price” is counting on other people’s money.

Unless you’re Jeff Bezos, all of the spending decisions you make are compromises. You might spend more today because you’re okay with working longer. Or you might spend less today because you want a longer retirement. All of these are personal decisions.

The way you think about other people’s money is a function of your own. What felt wasteful to you at 25 might feel different at 35 and will probably feel very different at 45.

There is no right amount of spending. There are only rules of thumb, and everybody’s is a little bit different.