Why Do We Always Try to Justify Our Spending?

I bought a netbook a while back which was easily justified by my recent foray into blogging, or was it. But that made me think about how we always seem to justify our indulgences. My netbook wasn’t necessary because I have my desktop PC which I could have used to write.

Most recently, as in Sunday, I bought the ultimate indulgence an iPhone 3GS. Don’t be too jealous it cost me $217 with tax to pick up this fancy brick. The question though is how, or even better why did I justify this obvious indulgence. When we sidestep our plans at debt reduction or saving we always attempt to justify it some way that makes us believe it is ok because…fill in the blank. I have outlined my thought process for the purchase here and looking at what I wrote I can already see where I am trying to convince myself that this was a valid thing to do with my money.

Lets start with the fact that I am a geek and I love gadgets so I have been patiently waiting for the iPhone to mature to a point where I thought I might actually find use in it. Second, this blog is a lot of work and trying to keep up with everything when on the road, travelling, or working is difficult and I wanted a way to improve my ability to communicate as well as my ability to organize.

My justification

I was able to pay cold hard cash for the phone, nothing on credit and it was saved up out of my “blow” money.

Having a more advanced phone would allow me to be more organized.

Being able to carry Evernote with me allows me better keep up with ideas for my blog.

It is kind of cheaper than a GPS, and is a GPS (without the voice turn by turn)

I can use it to manage my todo lists no matter where I am

After cancelling my wife’s personal cell the monthly cost is roughly the same (she hasn’t turned it on in two months)

Why I shouldn’t have

I didn’t need a new phone, my old one still worked

I should be focusing my excess funs towards debt (I still have that pesky student loan and $217 is almost two payments)

If I was out of debt I should be focusing on increasing my savings

I didn’t need a new phone

Why it is ok, sometimes (AKA Further Justification)

I applaud gazelle intensity and love the quote from Dave Ramsey “Live like no one else so you can live like no one else.” But seriously I am alive today, here, now and I want to enjoy it at least a little bit. I am going to have a second child soon and before I know it my “me time” is going to be even smaller than it is now. I don’t want to spend every day pinching my pennies to try to make a quarter.

I took this opportunity to do something for me that I wanted to do. Everyone needs to have fun every once in a while. Like most vices, when done in moderation it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I added this heading and then realized all I am doing is piling on the justification to make myself feel better about it. I have had my iPhone now for two days and I love the thing. It is great and the Apps you can add, if used for good, can be great to improve your productivity.

My son has the best answer to the question Why? and I think I am going to use it from now on. So when people ask me “Kyle, why did you buy an iPhone?” my simple response will be “Because I did.”


1 Live for Improvement July 7, 2009 at 12:43 pm

I think by human nature we justify our spending because deep down we know that the item is outside our normal financial means, but we really really want it anyway. Our desire for the item causes us to make excuses to the logical side of our brain inorder to continue with the transaction. We all do it, but try to be disciplined and do it in moderation.

-Dan Malone-

2 Julie Ann Dunn July 7, 2009 at 5:54 pm

I think “blow money” is your opportunity to spend money on whatever you want, without any justification. The only reason for your spending is that you wanted it, and that’s quite sufficient for blow money. There are plenty of reasons for feeling guilty. Buying something you want with money you saved for it, that’s a guilt-free experience. No justifications needed. Enjoy and embrace the bliss of “because I did.”

3 FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com July 7, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Sometimes I just want a tech toy if for no reason other than to want it

I don’t try to justify it.. but if it’s really outrageous like an e-book reader at $500, I just lust wistfully instead of giving in

And that’s where the idea of conscious consumption plays a huge role, I think.

I don’t like the idea of justifications, budgets, feeling bad, etc… I think we should just be conscious consumers and make decisions based on needs and wants. Not feeling as if we have to justify buying something for fun just because Africa is starving and they don’t even have FOOD.. (for example)

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