This is not a frivolous, un-thought-out, statement. It is the result of a lot of thinking and frustrating moments trying to understand how come it feels so painful to be parted with my cash. I think the major supermarkets should have a ‘Money separation counselling desk’ outside each outlet to provide help (free of charge of course!) to customers who have just left the till. Then maybe they will be given something for free just to provide relief, gimmicks like going through your receipt to ‘discover’ that you have been undercharged for some things, but you do not have to pay more now that it has been discovered, maybe a list showing how the prices were to go up tomorrow and you have bought these things just in time, anything to make one feel better. I can bet the majority of the people queuing to receive such services would be men.
Why do I, and I am sure countless other men have problems with spending.
1. Spending reminds me of how hard I worked to earn the money
There is a mechanic friend of mine who was once arrested and taken to the Lang’ata Police Station about six or seven years ago. He had been arrested together with two or three of his colleagues. But his colleagues were quick to bribe their way out so they were out a few minutes after the arrest. My friend refused to bribe. It was not because he had no money, or because of principles of patriotism, being a christian or any of that. He just refused. He told the cops to “do their worst”, he would still not bribe them, even if he spent a week in jail. “You can even take me to the torture chambers…” he taunted them. “None of you will get even a cent of my money”. After a night in the cell, the cops just gave up on him and let him go home. When I met him several days after his ordeal, I asked him why he was so resolved not to bribe the cops, he did not even pause to think about it. “Dan, you know the kind of work I do, I cannot spend my day in overalls, rolling under cars, checking exhaust pipes, getting myself so dirty to earn this money, then just give it to someone who has not helped me work for it.” “My money comes from far and I will not just dish it out like a politician!”.
I feel him. I work hard to earn my money and it is painful to spend it unnecessarily. Most politicians and celebs spend their money lavishly because they possibly did not sweat too much to get it. Easy come, easy go.
2. Product placement, in supermarkets especially
A friend of mine once told me that in the big supermarkets, it really matters where on the shelves things are placed. There is even a premium charged by the supermarkets for products that are placed at eye-level. They are the most likely to be bought. As you walk on the aisles of supermarkets, you will hardly look too high or too low, unless there is something specific you are looking for. I believe that the supermarkets feel we will not pass something that we have seen without processing in our minds whether we need it or not. There are so many things we end up picking simply because we have seen them. I really insist on a shopping list before I enter the supermarket. That way, I will pick only what I came to pick and not just something that I only want after seeing it.
As I walk the aisles I am just holding on tighter and tighter to my wallet knowing that it is only a matter of time and I will manage to get out of there with not too much damage.
3. It is easier to spend money that you have planned in advance to spend
When I have saved for something for a while, prayed about it and even worked out the exact time in the future I will have the money for that thing, Like was the case with my Samsung Galaxy S2 recently, it is easier. Not easy, just easier. I think psychologically, you have had enough time to prepare yourself to be separated from your cash.
I’m sure it would be easier to be robbed if the thugs made you promise, even by signing an agreement that you will be sending them money for the next 36 months in easy affordable installments. The suddenness of the separation makes it more difficult.
4. I prefer spending money on something that changes my life significantly
I like to be able to analyse my life before and after the expenditure. If there is a significant difference, then it doesn’t feel as bad. That is why many men hate spending money on car repairs. If you are only spending and you don’t feel the car is ‘reciprocating’ or ‘appreciating’ your spending money on it, you will start thinking about getting rid of it.
I also do not mind spending money on assets. Robert Kiyosaki defines an asset as something that puts money in your pocket and a liability is something that takes money out of your pocket. So if I spend money on something that I perceive will generate returns and eventually give me back my money, it is not as difficult.
5. Many times I spend money based on my projections
I found out recently that there are people in two different schools of thought regarding spending. Each does what they do and believe they are completely justified in so doing. Let me start with myself.
If you were to give me, say, 10k (by the way feel free to do so!), I would probably spend it slower and slower and probably will not finish it until I see the next 10k in the horizon. The first 2-3k can disappear fast and in mysterious ways. The next 2-3k will be spent slower and on things that I can show for it. Chances are that I will not spend the last 3k at all, until I see where the next 10k is coming from. For me at this point, 3 is the new zero!
The other school of thought is of those people who say things like, “Life is short, enjoy it while you can”, “Why do I work hard for this money if I can’t enjoy it anyway?”, “I do not want to die and leave all this to people who will not appreciate it” etc. These people spend the money simply because it is there. Which category are you in?