Keepin­gu­pap­pear­ances

Oncewew­ere­on­ly­con­cerned­with­theJone­ses, nowwe’retry­ing­to­keep­up­with­theKar­dashi­ans

National Post (Latest Edition) - Financial Post Magazine - - PERSONALFINANCE - Gar­ryMar­rwrites­per­son­al­fi­nances­to­riesinthe Fi­nan­cial Post. Email:gmarr@na­tion­al­post.com

Much­like­beauty,spend­ing,or­what­con­sti­tutes­reck­lessspending,is intheeye­ofthe­be­holder.Aspi­ra­tional­spendingis­the­buz­zwordof to­dayan­dit­means­d­if­fer­ent­thingstod­if­fer­ent­peo­ple.Isitre­al­lyjust spend­ing­money­on­lux­u­ryitem­stom­atchal­ifesty­ley­oudream­about, but­can’tre­allyaf­ford?

“Some­ofthisspending­hastodowith­the­way­we­ab­sorb­me­dia now, es­pe­cially mil­len­ni­als,” says Chantel Chap­man, a Van­cou­ver-based­fi­nan­cial­lit­er­a­cyad­vo­cate­and­founderofHollerForYour Dol­lar.“Inthep­ast,it­wasabout­keepin­gup­with­theJone­sesandyou kind­ofhadanideawhattheJone­seswere­like.Nowweare­keep­ing up­with­theKar­dashi­ans,whichi­sawalk­ing­com­mer­cial­for­con­sumer good­sand­keepin­gup­with­celebritylifestyle.”

There­sult­seem­sto­bead­es­per­a­tionfor­peo­ple­toshowthe­world they’re do­ing some­thing re­ally cool, and post­ing it on so­cial me­dia make­sitabrag­ging­keep­sake­for­ever.Cer­tainly,peo­plearewil­l­ingto pay­alot­for­ex­pe­ri­ences.

Prices­fortheNa­tion­alBas­ket­bal­lAs­so­ci­a­tion­all-stargameevents in­Toron­toth­is­past­win­ter—a-once-in-a-life­timeshow­forthecity — climbed to as much as US$3,885 for just the slam dunk con­test, ac­cord­ing­toS­tubHub.The­ac­tu­alall-stargame’stop­price­soaredto US$6,500.JustinBieber­wantsUS$2,000forameet-and-gree­top­por­tu­ni­ty­dur­inghis2016­tour,ac­cord­ing­to­me­di­are­ports.Ify­ouwanted to­hang­out­back­stage­with­leadsingerOzzyOs­bournewhen­theBlack Sab­bath­tour­rum­bled­in­toVan­cou­ver­inMarch,that’s$2,500.One canon­ly­imag­ineth­eas­tro­nom­i­cal­sum­swemight­be­wil­l­ing­to­payto seeaCana­di­an­hock­eyteamintheS­tan­leyCup­fi­nals­given­whatarare oc­cur­rencethathas­be­come.

But­per­hap­sev­en­wor­seisthatthisspending­phi­los­o­phy­is­be­ing passe­dontoourchil­dren,aswedole­out­dol­larstomeet­theirevery whim,too.“Wea­spire­togreatthings­forourkid­san­dare­so­com­mit­ted­toit,wewil­l­buyal­mostany­thing­forthem,”saysBret­tGraff,Mi­ami-basedau­tho­rof NotBuy­ingIt. Sh­e­saysraisin­ga­suc­cess­fulchildis no­tabout­spoil­ingth­emwith­the­lat­est­gadgetorbest­trips.“Kidswho star­ta­headin­schooldon’thave­bet­ter­toys,”she­says,addingth­at­in­ter­ac­tion­with­par­entsplaysalarg­er­role.The­lessony­oungchil­dren mustlearn,sheadds,is“need­ver­suswant”—some­thingth­at­canbe ap­plied­to­ev­ery­thin­gand­notjust­forchil­dren.

There are two sides to ev­ery spend­ing de­ci­sion: one is the value you­placeontheac­qui­si­tio­nandtheother­ishowyouare­go­ing­to­pay for your as­pi­ra­tions. Too of­ten, though, debt is fu­elling some of the spend­ing.House­hold­debt­inCanadaisa­tanall-time­high­and­some ofthatis­cle­ar­ly­go­ing­for­prizeswe­can’tnec­es­sar­ilyaf­ford.

Is there a so­lu­tion to all this spend­ing? Sure, you could as­pire to some­thing a lit­tle less ex­cit­ing. How about the fi­nal Toronto Maple Leaf­s­ga­me­thissea­son?You­canstill­postapic­ture­o­fy­our­sel­fonFace­bookandthe­so­cial­me­di­a­siteeven­hasasad­but­ton­these­days.StubHub ha­stick­ets­for­jus­tover$50—hock­ey­in­famyis­cle­arlyalotcheaper.

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