I thought of more items you spend money on that I don’t

By | February 25, 2016

I have a couple more items that I know that you probably already spend a significant amount of money on and that I didn’t want to point out earlier because I know you’re going to yell at me. But, dagnabbit, these items are WANTS and you really have to think hard if they are worth the money you spend on them. It’s probably better to ponder this and make a decision before you buy them because it will be impossible to give up once acquired. Damn you, feelings and emotions!

Diamond engagement rings

https://pixabay.com/en/wedding-ring-diamond-romance-love-310701/I’m not married. I’ve never been married. I’ve never even been close to the concept of being married, so maybe I’m not allowed to have an opinion on this, but I have an opinion on this and the more research I did on this subject, the more confident my opinion became. Diamond engagement rings are an unnecessary expense and you shouldn’t buy them.

Companies are masters at telling you what you need to feel complete and one of the most successful brainwashers out there is the diamond industry. A little over a century ago, human beings scooped out only a few diamonds a year from riverbeds. We like diamonds because they’re shiny. In 1870, our species realized with glee that we could mine diamonds if we dug around in specific spots in the earth. Burrowing wasn’t cheap, so investors got together to finance the digging and, to their amazement, they started gathering tons and tons of diamonds. I picture the investors excitedly telling their wives how much money they were set to make off this new venture.

But then a problem occurred. The mines were too fruitful and too many diamonds appeared. The more diamonds the world had, the less people were willing to pay for them. So, the investors all got together, in what I can only assume was in a dark room, with a long table, and evil cackling throughout. The investors decided to control every aspect of the diamond industry, from the mining, to the distribution,  to perpetuating the inaccurate perception of its rarity, to its astonishingly successful (and global) advertising campaign equating diamonds, and only diamonds, acceptable for marriage.


Stop that cackling, Jerry.

They gathered excellent ad men and began to convince people that diamonds were love. They insisted that, if a boy was sweet on a girl, he would buy her a diamond ring and surprise her with the gift to signify their love for all eternity. The bigger the better. The more diamonds you had on the ring, the more you loved her. Diamonds, you see, are forever. Diamonds are symbolic and you can’t ever sell or otherwise dispose of them because they are sacred to your emotional bond.

I don’t like the idea of a possibly evil cartel with a skewed interest in selling me shit telling me what is sacred to my emotional bond. Diamonds are supposedly very valuable, right? Okay, try selling your diamond. If you buy gold as an investment (another shiny object we humans get from the ground), you might make some money if you sell it at the right time. Unless you own one of the approximately 50 rarest and finest diamonds in the world however (which I promise you that you don’t), your diamond ring is not an investment.

[Funny caption?]

Well, I do declare! Now thieves will know to rob me.

Jewellery stores won’t buy it back for anywhere close to what you bought it for and individuals won’t pay as much for an old diamond ring from some schmo on the Internet while superstitious folks scream “bad karma” while backing away slowly. The only people making any money off old diamond rings are thieves because even if they sell it for $1, they make a profit.

I think this rant is getting too long, but I can think of more negatives. Consider the possibly horrible conditions of the person (or child) who dug that diamond out for you. Realize that you’re signalling to vagabonds that you likely have money to steal. And personally, I just finding wearing rings uncomfortable. Using a few months of your working life to buy a diamond ring is a stupid idea.

But I argue both sides because I’m trained as a lawyer or something. Okay, so what’s the positive in buying a diamond ring? They’re shiny and pretty. I agree that diamonds are shiny and pretty, but you can get them in forms that are not ring-like for much less. And you can get other gems that are shiny if you do prefer ring-like. I own diamond (and ruby and sapphire) earrings that I quite like, but those earrings weren’t decadently expensive and earrings are one of my indulgences.

The only real reason that I see for buying an expensive diamond engagement ring is because it’s easier. You won’t feel any social pressure if you simply succumb and buy a ring when you propose like you’re “supposed to.” Sure, you are most definitely enlightened and you completely understand and agree with everything I’m saying. You read the research I linked and you wish that you could stop this stupid perpetuation, but other people, most importantly the other half of your union, won’t understand. It’s only a few thousand dollars.

If that’s your only reason though, seriously, buy used. You’ll get a much much much better deal that way. Don’t be superstitious. Be practical.


https://pixabay.com/en/kitten-cat-feline-happy-nice-156519/Put down your pitchforks, people! I love pets. Pets rock! I will most certainly have at least a cat and probably a dog when (if?) I settle down in one place again. Whenever I visit my parents and remember our family cat Daisy that passed away a couple of years ago, I subtly try to persuade them to adopt a new cat by saying “You guys should get a cat.” I beeline to a pet when I see one while visiting people’s houses. I had a foster cat that I adored when I lived in Chicago. I’m just saying, they’re expensive, yo. Pets are entirely optional, and as much as it pains me to type this, pets are a want and not a need.

If you’re reading this while sitting next to Megatron — your adorable fluffy cat that you’ve had since she was a tiny kitten and that name was hilarious — you’re going to think I’m crazy and cruel. She’s been with you through so many of your heartaches and so many of your joys and she is a member of your family and you love her more than you love me. I know. You’re not going to get rid of her. Debt be damned.


Poor dragon looks so defeated

The pros of getting a pet are easy to come up with and why you probably already have one. There are likely health benefits like lower stress, possibly longer life, companionship, exercise if you walk the dog daily, unconditional love, a snuggle buddy, a babe magnet, a conversation starter, and happiness.

I love pets, but they are expensive. The initial acquisition cost, food, health care, toys, housing, and other accessories quickly add up. The costs are also unpredictable if Megatron gets sick. So please, calculate and consider the costs of getting a pet BEFORE you go out and fall in love with her. Sentiment and emotions make us human. I like to think that the ability to plan and consider everything also makes us human.

Want to read the other articles in this series “Spending habits draining your net worth”? Click on a link below.

Article 1 – cigarettes, pop, interest on depreciating assets
Article 2 – cable, coffee, meat
Article 3 – books, music, movies
Article 4 – cars
Article 5 – television set
Article 6 – expensive cell phone plan
Article 7 – lottery tickets, manicures, late fees
Article 8 – crap I spend money on

26 thoughts on “I thought of more items you spend money on that I don’t

  1. Adventures With Poopsie

    Uh oh… I’m currently having the internal debate about whether to get an engagement ring or not. I personally want a sapphire but maybe small diamonds on either side. I’m honestly torn…

  2. Ashley

    Thank you for writing about engagement jewelry! When I learned about the history of diamond engagement rings I honestly felt duped. The money used for a ring could be better used or invested for most young couples just starting out. If I could choose my ring again I would have chosen a small sapphire or a cubic zirconia (gasp!) for the engagement period. An unadorned wedding band is enough after marriage.

  3. jeff

    Yes! I’ve been saying this for years about diamond rings! Unfortunately, it’s typically not a very fun conversation to have with most women though 🙁

  4. Nicole

    LOVE your commentary on diamond engagement rings. When my now husband and I decided to get married a couple of years ago I immediately told him – “PLEASE no engagement ring.” I don’t generally wear jewelry anyway (let alone diamonds) so why
    would I start now? Also we’re about to combine our finances so why the hell do I want to immediately be behind thousands of dollars for a ring that the industry/most of society tells us I need? Turns out people get super defensive about this topic and prefer to never think about the “why” behind the ring. Anyway it’s always been something that’s gotten me all worked up (the whole wedding industry as a whole honestly) so I loved reading this.

  5. Aperture

    I whole heartedly agree with your assessment of diamonds. I bought my wife’s engagement diamond at a pawn shop and had her uncle make the setting and I still spent too much money. About 10 years ago we discovered a jewelry store that makes gem-quality settings for CZs. They offer a wide range of rings, earrings, bracelets and etc – all are made in the same way their diamond versions are made, but with inexpensive CZ stones. We have recommended the jeweler to numerous friends that were struggling to fulfill expectations of an engagement ring. All have been as happy as we with their purchases.
    On the pet front, we rescued a couple dogs a few years ago, and I have mostly regretted it ever since. It is not the cost, but the dogs themselves. They are not a match to my lifestyle. I had no idea that dogs could be so different breed to breed or that I would encounter dogs that are so needy and ridiculous. I grew up with dogs that spent long stretches hanging out by themselves on the dog bed – mostly indifferent to the world of humans (unless someone was cooking bacon). These two are 25 pound wanna-be lap dogs. They spend 100% of their waking hours as close to my wife’s ankles as they can. They would follow me all around, but I shoo them off because they drive me nuts. If we did not have children that have grown attached to the dogs, we would have found a new home for them. As it is, we are stuck with them for the long run, and I just have to live with my mistake until they move on to the great dog run in the sky. Best wishes

  6. KangSik, Seo

    It is hard to know what woman is thinking. I could ask her if she likes the diamond ring and pet. We Koreans tend to be more open about these things. Perhaps she doesn’t like it that I am not paying the diamond??? I don’t know your culture and what is polite or appropriate behavior. I think you are reasonable.

  7. KS

    Yeah, the diamond marketing is pervasive and persuasive. Better to skip it or seek an alternative, like the man-made stones on QVC & HSN (and Ebay and Craigslist) that are just as pretty and shiny, but so much more affordable and easily replaced if lost/stolen. Why did you think Kevin o’Leary on Shark Tank has a wedding business? Because that’s when people spend large sums without rationality (but lots of justifications and excuses). Also occurs when people die. Just say no! Better to invest in your future, your skills, your home.

  8. Marty

    1. Engagement rings (diamond or not, new or not) are important. They do formalize a couple’s relationship, and they are a signal to other would-be suitors (like a “for-sale” sign that turns to “sold”). So long as the couple do not feel pressure to over-spend, then the shopping and buying and wearing is worthwhile.

    2. Pets can be expensive. Kids even more so. But we control our useless spending so that we can spend on useful things. Pets can be very useful.

    3. Things I think are stupid, useless expenses deserving of Thriftygal’s analysis: landscaping; any periodic expense that can be a cheaper one-time purchase (leased cars, TV cable boxes, modems, phones, etc); lavish weddings.

  9. Trey

    I remember a few years ago I was in a small meeting with colleagues from work and said, “why not buy $5000 worth of Microsoft stock instead of an engagement ring and use the money generated by letting the company grow to pay for the first year of your first kid’s college.” You should have seen the look on their faces. One said, “But marriage. It’s for life. It’s…….” I might as well have said he should cut off his hand. Microsoft has more than doubled since then–and it’s been only about 10 years. Alas.

  10. Anita

    We have two large cats and one small dog. After going through the process of tracking monthly expenses and then making a real effort to cut expenses in all possible areas, I have found that the pets are, in fact, one of the most expensive wants we have. We are paying about $90 a month for food for the animals. Then you have to consider cat litter, grooming, vet bills, and small-sized tennis balls for the dog. Truthfully, though, the costs only started getting on my nerves after I had cut out so much wasteful spending that the pet expense now seems disproportionately high.

    As for rings, I have to admit that neither of us wear our wedding rings anymore. For me, my finger got too big. For my husband, his finger became too small. I never had a diamond engagement ring, and we spent $300 on our wedding including the rings, minister, and cake for the reception. No, it didn’t jinx our marriage. We have been married for over 17 years and have no plans to divorce.

    It is great to see a young lawyer writing truthfully about these wants. I have a 22-year-old son that I am trying to teach about thrift and saving. He seems to be a natural saver, so I am not worried about him, but it makes it much easier to show young people what other young people are writing than to expect them to take to heart all of Mom’s advice.

  11. AnnW

    What about cell phones, or internet service? How do you keep in touch when you are traveling? Are where the heck are you now? I’ve been enjoying your posts! Go to the Galapagos if you get a chance.Ann

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      Hi Ann! I use google fi. I am working on a longer post/review on it. I’m currently in Montevideo, Uruguay. 🙂

  12. Vince

    If my wife were to pass on, I would probably opt for a cat. I think this would be a route to go vs. another wife.

  13. Morning Waters

    I insisted on a three small sapphire stone engagement ring I just love. It sure was fun seeing peoples faces when they realized it was my engagement ring and I told them about the modern day slavery involved with the diamond trade.

  14. InsiderAccountant

    I’ve long thought the same about pets – they can cost a lot more than people think and people often see them as a natural progression once they get their own place. If you live alone then it might be worth it for companionship, otherwise it might be an unnecessary expense. Our cat (which my wife wanted) is a pain in the ar$e, as the only thing that it seems to do is harass me for food! I’d get rid of it if it wouldn’t upset my wife and kids!

  15. Patrick

    Dear friend, you have hit another home run. If you still watch tee vee, there is an amazing amount of time spent in advertising attempting to sell you on the idea that you need this or that, not to mention filling your head with bad ideas. The diamond craze was propagated by DeBeers some time in the 1920’s I think. They used the power of propaganda coupled with advertising, although I heard recently that the Russians are dumping diamonds as a desperate measure to bring in more gov. Revenue.

    Good article, can’t thank you enough, you are far wiser then your youth

  16. Laura

    I couldn’t care less about my diamond ring… It just sits in a draw. But get rid of my cat and u half my happiness!!

  17. Ally

    Your rationale for avoiding pets and their expense could apply equally well to humans , like children, spouses, and friends. Companionship is a human need.

  18. Jing

    One of my close friends from work got married a few years ago, and she had a large diamond ring that sparkled under sunlight. It caught my eye one day, and I commented on how pretty it was. Later on I found out that it costed about $10k, and they had to pay for insurance in case it got lost or stole. Well, that was a deal breaker for me. I don’t normally like to wear jewelry, and I definitely would not enjoy the anxiety that would stem from owning such an expensive ring.

    I recently moved into an apartment of my own in Texas and was considering getting a pet. However, many of the apartment complexes charge a pet fee and/or a monthly pet rent. My apartment charges a non-refundable $500 pet fee. This was a huge deterrent to owning a pet since I’m not sure if I would stay in the same apartment after the one year lease.

  19. Unconventional Sustainability

    Another great post! I was lucky that my husband fully appreciated my aversion to diamonds and instead opted for a local gem (greenstone), which we ended up with matching rings that collectively cost us less than $600 combined.

    We also decided to skip most of the other traditional wedding expenses and formalities and got a 2 week wedding/honeymoon trip in Grand Cayman for less than $5k. While minimizing expenses was important to us, we mostly wanted to have a fun and low stress wedding.


    At the end of the day people should focus on what is really important to them, rather than on what some marketers are saying should be important to them.

  20. Abbie

    I agree with your opinion on engagement rings. Luckily my fiancé knows me well, so he gave me an origami ring instead of buying me a ring as he knew I would want to find a second hand one or a fake diamond or something. Now I’m tossing up whether to 1) adapt a diamond ring from my Aunty’s previous marriage to fit the correct finger and to lower the setting, 2) buy a cheapy aquamarine or lab diamond ring for less than $100 on Etsy, or 3) not get one at all and just wear a wedding band after the wedding.

    I’ve also seen incredibly cheap wedding bands on Etsy, some of which are only around $20 for titanium, which should be fairly indestructable by the sounds of it!

    I’m sick of people immediately asking about the engagement ring when they find out I’m engaged. I couldn’t care less about the ring, our relationship is what matters!

    We’re also trying to break new ground compared to all my friends’ weddings, by aiming for a NZ$5000 wedding budget, for a big fun wedding with 120-130 people. One of my friends managed $12,000 for around 80 guests and that is considered very cheap by most people. I just can’t imagine spending $10,000-30,000 on a wedding, when that can go towards our mortgage! We are going to pay $1000 for the venue since that is actually cheaper than hiring a tent and having an outdoor wedding. And the photography is costing $1300 for two photographers for the entire day, the best value package I could find as they are new to the wedding business (would normally cost at least $3000 for this). But apart from that our costs will be kept down by asking guests to bring a side dish and alcohol instead of a present. We will just provide a spit roast. A friend is making the cake, I will find a second hand dress or a cheap one online, we will do online invitations, and we will decorate ourselves. I’m willing to bet that people will have as much fun at our wedding if not more, than at a normal, expensive wedding!

    Sorry this post is long, but I’m very passionate about doing this wedding thing differently, rather than just doing what is expected!

  21. CB

    There is this awesome new lab stone called moissonite that is becoming a popular option for engagement rings. It’s way cheaper than a diamond, has no ethical concerns, and has very similar durability, longevity, and sparkle.

    I have a moissonite engagement ring and am thrilled with it. While in the one hand I agree that I don’t like the materialism of representing your relationship with an expensive rock…I did feel the social pressure to have a traditional ring. And now that I have one (I’ve been married for several years now) I really just love it. It’s a great “in between” option for people who are looking for something cost effective, long lasting, and traditional in appearance. And obviously it’s great for other jewelry as well. I just wanted to mention it because so many people don’t know about it yet!

  22. Mortimer

    That’s really interesting about diamonds. I didn’t realize it was a marketing scam barely more than 100 years old. How disappointing. Mrs. Mortimer does love her diamond ring though, but I wish I had done more research about the history of the rings before proposing. This is great advice for anyone who has not already bought one.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      Loved that video, Chance! 100% on point. Thanks for sharing. Except for the line at the end “A century of advertising has embedded the idea of a diamond engagement ring so deeply in our culture that even knowing all that doesn’t get you out of buying an engagement ring.” I refuse to believe that!!


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