“I’m just not the kind of person who spends money on that.”
When it comes to spending, we all have some kind of baseline for what we think is normal. And when we see someone spending in a way that doesn’t fit our “normal,” it can cause surprise, envy or condemnation.
The scariest part of going public with my Shopping for Happiness project was knowing that I was inviting friends, family and strangers to judge my spending. Why shouldn’t they? I’ve done it myself, shaking my head at other people’s spending habits and reassuring myself, “I’m just not the kind of person who spends money on that.”
Well, I’ve changed. These days – for the length of this project, at least – I am the kind of person who spends money on that.
Take paying for someone’s services or expertise. I have long laboured under the (egotistical) conviction that I am good at figuring out how to do stuff – in part because as a “thrifty” type, it always seems worth it to me to read the manual, comb through online guides, watch instructional YouTube videos…you name it. (“Instruction Lady” is one of my nicknames.)
But this month, when I challenged myself to spend money on services I haven’t used before, I found that my attitude towards small-business owners, entrepreneurs and service providers has shifted. I’ve gone from thinking, “they’re charging me for something I should be able to do myself” to thinking, “I’m so grateful that that these skilled people are willing to provide this valuable service for me.”
In June, I paid to have posters professionally framed, then paid a professional to come to my house and hang up those pictures and a dozen more that we’d meant to hang but never had. I hired a graphic designer on Fiverr.com to personalize a sports logo, then hired a local bakery to put it on a cake. And in my biggest expenditure yet, I hired a caterer to make and serve the food at my husband’s 50th birthday party.