We buy expensive things and save on basic things: a psychologist and a financier – about why it is sometimes more important to impress than to correctly allocate the budget.

Every year, the Lyst.com platform ranks the most popular fashion brands and things. The Lyst Index is built on the basis of “baskets” of 100 million real buyers. In the spring of 2022, the most mentioned and desired things were the Jean Paul Gaultier x Lotta Volkova nude dress, Adidas sneakers from the collaboration with Gucci and the Le Cagole bag from Balenciaga. Read more here.

Time passes, one crisis is replaced by another, but even in an unstable environment, people continued and continue to make expensive purchases. On the one hand, you can understand the desire to please yourself under stress. On the other hand, the question arises about the advisability of such shopping in the future – are expensive things really necessary if, when buying them, you have to save on something else? Should you allocate a budget for clothes and accessories that cost more than you normally spend? And do such “pleasant little things” really help brighten up everyday life and make you happy? Coach Natalie Leroux and financial analyst Norayr Movsisyan understand this issue.

The psychological side of the issue

Why do we enjoy spending money, especially on expensive things? In consciousness there is a direct relationship between the price and the value of a thing. We tend to rate more expensive items as being better, more reliable, and more efficient, even if they are not.

A study was conducted at Stanford University where subjects were asked to rate the taste of wine. If a person knew in advance that wine was more expensive, his brain secreted more of the hormone of joy – serotonin. In fact, the wine was not as expensive as advertised.

Another study tested two painkillers for $2.50 and 10 cents. Most confirmed that the more expensive pills worked better. In reality, it was two identical drugs.


It’s great when we can strike a balance between the inside and the outside. When inside we value ourselves enough to feel cozy, comfortable and confident in jeans and a T-shirt. At the same time, we allow ourselves to be pleased and motivated by expensive purchases in order to emphasize our importance for ourselves in the first place, and not competing with others “who is cooler”.

It is possible and necessary to buy expensive things, but when it does not go to the detriment of the budget, when it is not bought with the last money, just to prove to myself and others that I am worth something. This will only be temporary relief.

The internal “wound” that pushes for such action will remain open. And the more it is inside, the more emptiness and sadness you will feel when the first joy of buying passes. When buying expensive things, we feel pleasure and joy. But if there is a persistent desire to buy expensive things to the detriment of another, then it is necessary to look at the situation more deeply.

The desire to buy status things that you can’t quite afford may indicate an attempt to say: “I’m better!”, “I deserve to be among you.”

I had a client who grew up in a very poor family. Throughout her childhood, she wore the clothes of her older sisters. At school, she was teased because of clothes that did not fit. She promised herself that when she grew up, she would wear only the most expensive and most beautiful dresses. Many years later, she took a high position in a large company, spent all the money on branded items, often depriving herself of vacations. The whole room was already filled with clothes, she didn’t have time to wear them, but she continued to buy them in order to compensate for the pain and humiliation from children’s mockery – psychologically, she still seemed to prove to others that she was worthy.

Unfortunately, buying another expensive thing does not solve the essence of the problem, it gives temporary relief, increasing self-esteem for a short time, a sense of significance, but in the long run it drives you into even more sadness and longing. Especially when there is no opportunity to please yourself with an expensive new thing.

Is it worth it to save yourself from expensive purchases and “squandering”?

To answer this question, you need to direct your attention inward, without evaluation and criticism, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What do I really want now?
  • What am I missing?
  • What feeling or sensation do I want to experience? Significance, value, confidence, joy?
  • What can I do for myself, besides shopping, to experience this feeling?

There may be several answers here. Someone will understand that they really want to be significant for their parents, so that they notice and appreciate, be proud of you. It happens that it is important for a person to be significant for himself. Since many people are constantly working and relegating their desires to the background, the only thing left for them is temporary relief in the form of a new expensive purchase.

Creating the best version of yourself

There is an opinion that if you want to be rich and successful, then you need to match this image as much as possible. Even if you are not like that yet, then, provided that you wear expensive things, get closer to your dream.

There is a certain truth in this, but only if there are no such beliefs inside as:

  • I’m not successful enough
  • Not pretty enough
  • Not enough…. (continue yourself).

In this case, expensive or just frequent purchases will work on the principle of aspirin: temporarily bring relief, but not solve the essence of the problem. On the contrary, such a lifestyle can lead to debt, from which the already not very strong self-confidence will decrease even more. And the remnants of awareness of one’s own value will simply disappear.

If self-esteem directly depends on the things you wear, then your position is weak and dependent: if I have money for shopping, I feel good, and if I don’t have money, I feel bad.

I recommend that instead of shopping, take care of your inner world, seek support from a professional, become more confident, self-sufficient, whole inside, and then expensive things will only be a pleasant addition, not an addiction.

What about finances?

There is a constant revaluation of material values ​​in the world – and this is normal. Priorities and attitudes are changing. We can talk about the reasons for the changes for a long time, but I would like to highlight one aspect – this is speed. The rhythm of life has become very fast, living conditions, expectations and future reality are changing rapidly. That is why representatives of the current generation consider it too risky, for example, to invest in an apartment, the cost of which can be paid off within 20 years. Of course, in our society, the concept and desire to “have your own apartment” still exists and is quite strong. However, from a pragmatic point of view, this is absolutely not justified. And the new generation feels all these trends very well.

With a developed real estate market, you can safely rent the apartment that you like, not be tied to one location and spend money on another. The current time can be described as a period of consumer thinking and greed. Naturally, such a trend does not exclude basic needs, but, unfortunately, sometimes what we can show is more important than what we actually have. The real state of affairs will be known …

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