Overbuying vs. Underbuying (Can Spending More Make You FEEL Richer?)

I’m the type of person who will splurge on big-ticket items, and then scrimp and save to make up for it. It might be in my DNA: I’ve always been this way, even since I was a kid. But now that I’m older and earning more and former “splurges” are starting to sit more comfortably, I’m still not spending money where I should be.

For example: I’ll splurge in cash on a last-minute vacation somewhere, but I barely have enough socks. And my bras…well, let’s just say they’re past the expiration date.

Gretchen Rubin covers this phenomena in her book, The Happiness Project, (one of my most restorative reads this year.) In the chapter on money, she writes that people usually fall into one of two camps: the underbuyers and the overbuyers.

  • Me: No bras and socks (Under-buyer)
  • My fiance´, Rich: Always with five backup tubes of toothpaste (Textbook Over-buyer)

While over-buyers can run the risk of overspending on unnecessary items, underbuying items that you technically “need” is actually pretty unhealthy too. No matter how much it saves you. Because only owning five pair of socks can make you feel poor. Especially if they all have holes.

But 15 brand new pair of socks (purchased for a scant $7.99 for the pack at Walmart, thank-you-very-much) is a way to feel incredibly wealthy because you’re providing for yourself.

In theory, because I have all of my basic needs met (read: bras and socks) I’ll feel less likely to splurge on something impulsive. Like a great top I know I’ll wear, but already have 20 sitting dust.While some may make the case for hoarding, I’ve definitely been the “don’t buy anything until you run out” kind of person – a hold over from one too many no spend challenges.

So, in my effort to avoid a money scarcity mentality (which is officially my least favorite feeling in the world, by the way) in the last few weeks I've decided to focus on buying things I know I’ll need in advance so that I’ll always have plenty. And, hopefully, I'll end up feeling pretty plentiful in the process.

Am I the only one? Which camp are you? Team over-buyer or under?

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  • giulia
    May 22, 2018 at 3:49 am

    interesting point of view!

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