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6 Items That Exemplify Conspicuous Spending

This article was written by in Consumer. 9 comments.


This post is part of the one day blog event “The Spectrum of Personal Finance.” In this event, comic book nerd Brian of My Next Buck, will discuss 8 different emotions (taken from the Green Lantern comic series) and relate them to personal finance. Here at Consumerism Commentary we will be looking at Avarice. To view the rest of the event look at the bottom of the page to see the other blogs hosting articles.

Conspicuous spending and greed have played a large role in bringing us to the current fledgling economy. People overextending themselves and buying things they don’t need (too much house, too much car) are stories that have been replayed over and over in the media and are nothing new. It’s the items which return almost no tangible value after purchase that we should be weary of.

There is nothing wrong with expensive items. I recognize the difference in value between a Ferrari and my Hyundai. However, regardless of your income, there are items which scream that they exist solely for someone to be seen owning them.

Today I’ll outline a few items that I have seen over the years that have enormous price tags and exemplify conspicuous spending but don’t bring much value to their owners – except for the fact that they like owning them.

  • I am Rich App – The $999.99 iPhone app entitled, “I am Rich” stirred up lots of controversy last year. The app itself flashes a computer designed ruby on the screen – and that’s it. The app is no longer for sale, but a similar one has been released just recently for $99.99 under the name “You are Rich.”
  • Diamond Studded Sauce Pan – One of the most expensive undertakings a homeowner can undertake is refurbishing their kitchen. If you are feeling the need to add a bit of glamor to your kitchen, check out this $78,000 saucepan. With about 2.0 lbs of gold and 200 diamonds, you can cook your way to retirement as gold slowly appreciates.
  • iPhone 3G King’s Button – I love my iPhone and wouldn’t want to live without it. I even think I should spend a bit more to get one that is a bit larger. However, I am not one of the ones that feels the need to carry around a jewelry store on my phone. While the gems and metals certainly add to the aesthetics of the phone, it seems overly extravagant to carry a $2.5 million phone that can become a small paperweight if you accidentally drop it into a puddle.
  • Amex Black Card – The Amex Centurion “Black” Card is maybe the one item on this list that does carry a significant amount of value beyond just having one. However, at $5,000 up front and a $2,500 annual fee, it’s an expensive card to whip out when shopping at Costco (a paradox in and of itself).
  • TRI Golf Ball Marker – Golf is one of the most expensive sports in existence. Even with such a high cost, it’s a very serene experience. Think of what this $10,000 ball marker could add to your day at the links. Even Tiger Woods doesn’t have this item, as he uses a plain old marker to mark his ball.
  • DualTow Watch I think this watch is awesome. Without knowing much about watches I would venture a guess that the engineering is a true artistic masterpiece. I actually would love to see this on my wrist (even just to try it on) because of how cool it looks. Then again, for $300,000 you would hope that the watch would tell you the exact time instead of telling time in 5 minute intervals.

The devil’s advocate would say that people wanting to spend an exorbitant amounts of money on items like these would stimulate the economy. They would be correct. In fact, there are several stories of people who can afford luxury goods are altering their conspicuous spending because of the recession. This hesitation to purchase luxury goods is aiding in the slow recovery.

We see goods like these everyday. Some make us stop and shake our heads, and others make us stop and think “maybe someday.” What are the conspicuous goods you have seen others possess?

For further reading of the Spectrum of Personal Finance Event, please see:

To view a recap of the event, check out the Spectrum Roundup at My Next Buck.

Updated February 10, 2011 and originally published November 24, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar J Money

What about $40 bottles of water? Should I not
have picked that up? ;) Seriously, it sits on my desk unopened to remind me of how crazy I once was.

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avatar vcmcguire

These are great examples.

I can think of a lot of other items that seem like status symbols to me–things I can almost imagine spending money on but would be self-conscious about flaunting. Things like new cars (I have always bought used), fancy strollers (my son rode in a simple Graco hand-me-down stroller), or expensive jewelry (the most expensive piece I own cost $400). This is all stuff that many people own who are not rich, and nor are they over-spenders. I am just cheap about some things, and I’m very self conscious about appearing to have money. Maybe that’s because I live in a city, and in a very economically diverse neighborhood.

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avatar Jeff

I just saw somebody with the Robb Report on their desk. Now that magazine is all about flash. That older I get the more I realize “WHO CARES.”
It’s not about the look on the outside but the person on the inside. I know that’s what our mothers have said for years, but once you know that to be true – all the material things just don’t matter.
Look at all the blogs you read everyday. We usually can’t see what people drive or what they are wearing, yet we read the posts and they enrich our lives. I didn’t start reading this blog because Flexo was a nice dressed dude. I started because I like the message. Look at Brian, the author of the post. I can’t say that comics are a status symbol but this is a great series. We read and comment to show we care. And what does all that cost us?? NOTHING but a little time :-)

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avatar Kelly

There is a mall near our house where conspicuous consumption is an art form. Designer stores line a major portion of the mall, and it’s bookended with the most expensive department stores. Just walking through it makes me want things, and wonder who can afford such goods. The $700 pair of shoes, or the $2,000 purse? What a waste.

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avatar Craig

If someone can afford the black card they are most likely not shopping at Costco and clearly can afford the car and its benefits.

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avatar Brian

@J – We need to crack that open someday and drink it like champagne. Maybe new years?

@vcm – There are a ton of examples. My father for many years was the extreme conspicuous spender. I was to a certain extent as well. Thankfully those days are long gone

@Jeff – Robb report is highway robbery. Cool photos, ridiculous purchases.

@Kelly – I need to find a girl that thinks just like you!

@Craig – You’d be surprised man. Rich people love costco!

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avatar Nicole @ RainyDaySaver

As a woman, what I see as conspicuous consumption is purses and shoes that cost hundreds (or thousands) of dollars, fancy cars (just get you from point A to point B, IMHO), and designer clothing. I’m just as happy wearing my bargain-bin jeans as I could be wearing a $400 pair of True Religions.

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avatar Carla

I’m sorry but I don’t even RECOGNIZE most of those brands you named. I’m scratching my head and going, huh? Does food cook better in a gold and diamond saucepan? What if you burn your sauce into the pan? — Shaking head over such nonsense.

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avatar chris

“The $999.99 iPhone app entitled, “I am Rich” …”

Should be “titled,” not “entitled.”

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