I have been thinking a lot about the items we buy and what I consider to be “a lot” of money to spend on something. Without context, the numbers could vary from a few bucks to buy coffee up to a million dollars plus if we are talking Net Worth. Curious to see what other people thought a lot of money was, I did a very (very) unscientific study in the Rockstar Finance Forums by posting the below question:
What is a lot of money to spend on……
- A cup of coffee?
- A pair of jeans?
- A pair of shoes?
- Dinner (per person)?
- Vacation (Per Person)?
- A new car?
I also asked people to throw out the first number that came into their heads. More of an off-the-cuff answer before the analytical part of the brain kicks in.
What is a lot of money to you?
If you don’t want to be skewed by others, write your answers down now!
“What is A lot of Money” – Timeline for Mr. AE
Before I get into the results, I want to explore how much this question is impacted by age.
When I was 9 or 10, I remember convincing my brother that 10 is worth more than 1…… Pennies to Quarters that is. Probably was excited to have a $1.50 in my pocket to scoop up some candy (I am a Reese’s fan)
By the time I was 12, a lot was enough to rent a PS1 video game for the weekend (we had upgraded from the SuperNintendo I rocked for a long time)
At 16, I needed $25 to fill my gas tank (kinda weird that gas was 1.56 when I got my license and 14 years later it is only 2.21)
By the time I was 18, my $150 car payment was a lot of money (how am I supposed to pay my bills and impress the ladies?)
Fast forward to college, $350 was the new high bar. I had to pay my share of the rent every month and was living off loans and “donating” plasma.
Today……I consider our Emergency Fund of 10K to be a lot of money but it is only 1/10th the value of our retirement accounts.
I think my mind has been warped by frugally, and thus the reason for breaking my question into multiple categories. I can look at a pair of jeans and think $80 is too much for me then turn around and spend double that on a new fishing rod.
I didn’t skew the results with my own answers, but here were the first numbers that popped into my head:
- A pair of jeans?
- a Pair of shoes?
- $80 – And I wear them until they get dangerously slippery
- Dinner (per person)
- $50 (with beer, obviously) – Around Minneapolis, you can find AMAZING food for $12-20 per person so we don’t hit that $50 mark very often.
- Vacation (Per Person)?
- $2000 – We take cheaper vacations, but when it’s a week long and out of country $2K per person is where the line starts getting drawn
- A new car?
- $23,000 – This is what we paid for our last new car back in 2014 and I felt like this was a lot of money to spend on a car. Not sure we will go over this amount for the foreseeable future
What is a lot of Money to you – The Crowd Weighs In
50 people responded and while there was a lot of consistency, there were some decent ranges.
Average, Median, Min, and Max per item:
- I threw out any “0” answers, felt like it would skew the averages too much
- A new car – should be “A new to me” car as a lot of people mentioned buying used vehicles only.
- I attempted to normalize vacation data to per person based on the responses
A pair of shoes was higher than I expected considering you can get a decent pair of brand name shoes for under $100. There were a lot of comments about paying significantly more for hiking and dress shoes.
People are willing to spend on vacations to the tune of a few thousand dollars per person. I guess that shouldn’t surprise me too much, there seems to be a correlation between Financial Independence pursuants and valuing vacation/traveling.
There are bloggers that don’t drink coffee! Breaking the mold! I thought hanging out in coffee shops was half the job
A $400 dollar per person dinner and $10 for coffee….. Holy shit! I hope it’s damn good
This is more weird than surprising, but almost everyone went in $5,000 increments for vehicles. Only 2 people out of 50 listed a number not divisible by 5K.
A not so surprising note. A financial forum doesn’t pull in a wide distribution. That is what makes this an unscientific study.
Outside of entertaining myself and getting this thought out of my head, is there anything worth taking away from this?
Maybe a few things:
- Highlights items you value, there were a few people who spent very little on anything but vacations. That is a clear indicator they have their spending in check
- You can compare yourself to a bunch of frugal money geniuses and get a sense of how they save so much damn money
What is a lot of money to you? Are you close to the average? Are you outside any of the ranges? Anything surprising in the averages, ranges or results?
If you are interested in seeing the full thread with individual responses head over to Rockstar Finance.
Below is a list of Personal Finance bloggers that responded, if you want to do some reading have at it!
HighIncomeParent, ThinkSaveRetire, Divnomics, thewalletmoth, TeacherInvestor, budgetOnaStick, OurFinancialPath, LifeZemplified, moneybeagle, The_Vigilante, OthalaFehu, FullTimeFinance, UnconventionalSust, eemusings, MrsGroovy, MissMazuma, DividendDiplomats, theluxestrategist, Need2save, MillennialDollar, SawyerPF, Adriana, WallStreetPhysician, BrandNewPapa, ZeroDayFinance, Felicity, TheFIJourneyman, Erith, GRuga, Cubert, OurFIJourney, GuyOnFire, timeinthemarket
Last but not least the man behind the Rockstar Forum J$ from BudgetsAreSexy