Thursday, October 05, 2006

Bad Idea Jeans: Don't Do This with Your Money

Sometimes I run across suggestions about how to spend your money that are just so incredibly counterproductive and unwise that I want to broadcast them to the world next to a big skull-and-crossbones "poison" symbol. Conveniently, because I have a blog, I can make this happen.

How NOT to Spend Your Money:

1. Immediately Spending Free Money
Discover offers a Cashback Bonus program, which is nice enough. You charge items to your Discover card, and they give you a (rather small) percentage of the money to spend as you choose. Now, the right way to use their program is to request a check for your bonus money and immediately invest it, which you can absolutely do. Except (thank you, cross-promotional marketing gods) you can also opt to double or increase your reward if you dump that money into one of Discover's "partner" sites: various and often random businesses (Lobster Gram, anyone?) that will give you a gift certificate for their merchandise in exchange for your bonus money. The program even has a testimonial:

"When I discovered that BLOCKBUSTER was a partner in the Cashback Bonus Program, I immediately decided to not only get a Discover Card but was determined to buy everything possible using the Card."

There are SO many things wrong with that sentence. Not only is this supposed "cardholder" frittering away his free money on movies (though, to be fair, if he's a movie junkie and would be buying them anyway, it IS a better deal to get the Blockbuster gift certificate free), but he's also spending far more money than necessary, which he'll probably pay exorbitant interest on, just to get a gift certificate. Bad Idea Jeans.

2. Keeping Up with the Hiltons
Like I've said before, I read Us Weekly often enough that I know where to get trendy clothes. I don't buy trendy clothes because I feel that they're a complete waste of money. Let's look at the numbers: $200 Paper Denim and Cloth jeans. A $5,000 Balenciaga bag. $500 Jimmy Choo heels. It's just good business sense:
Buying anything that's not deep, deep discount or at least wearable for more than one season at either Kitson, Shop Intuition, or similar boutique stores is a big financial mistake. Bad Idea Jeans. (Pardon the pun.)

3. Conspicuous Coffee Consumption
Anyone who buys coffee from Starbucks every weekday morning is overpaid and should start giving African orphans a cut of his paycheck immediately. Why? I love the occasional afternoon Mocha Frappuccino as much as the next gal, but even getting your tall morning drip fix costs $1.82 here in Manhattan. Buying a coffee from the cart directly across the street? Sixty cents. Again, run the numbers: After a year, Starbucks Yuppie (who carries a laptop bag with his company's insignia on it) has spent $455. Coffee Cart Girl (who looks less chic but has a huge, smug smile on her face) has spent $150. Bad Idea Jeans. I think African orphans could do a lot with $305 a year. Perhaps even subscribe to Us Weekly.


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