What Do Our Spending Choices Say About Our Values?

What do our spending choices say about our values? For instance, the other day I saw this meme on Facebook that exposed the ridiculousness of spending $5 on a coffee at Starbucks, which will only give you maybe 10 minutes of enjoyment (if you sip it really slowly) but refusing to spend a dime on music that will give you endless hours of enjoyment and last you practically forever! I wish I could find that meme again to show you, but after searching arduously through my Facebook timeline and Google, I couldn’t find it anywhere.

Nonetheless, this got me thinking: why do I and so many other people do this? I buy a coffee at Starbucks at least once a week (and as proof I recently tweeted a photo of my new Starbucks gold card), but I have a really hard time buying music on iTunes when I know I can most likely find it somewhere on the internet for free. Does this say that I value instant gratification more than delayed gratification? If I want a Starbucks coffee, I can probably get one in less than 5 minutes (there’s seriously one on almost every block here in Vancouver).

But if I want to buy some artist’s new album, I have to either find a Future Shop or Best Buy to buy it on CD, or I have to go home, open up my laptop, open up iTunes, enter my password and credit card digits, then wait a few minutes for it to download. I know it doesn’t seem like that much effort, but it’s still more effort than buying a coffee (at least to me it is).

But maybe that’s not what it is. Maybe it has more to do with crowd mentality. Practically everyone goes to Starbucks to buy coffee, but hardly anyone talks about spending $15 on music. Or maybe it’s because when you buy something at Starbucks, that coffee cup with the logo on it shows the world what you bought, but when you buy a few songs on iTunes, no one can see (kind of like buying a Coach purse). Does this mean I value what people think of how I spend my money more than doing the right thing, and supporting the music industry instead of the already rich Starbucks machine?

I’ll be honest, I think it’s a combination of all these things. Will I stop buying my weekly coffee at Starbucks? Probably not. Will I stop downloading music for free (and illegally I might add)? I’m going to try, that’s kind of the best I can do. When it comes to local musicians I really like, I already make sure to purchase their music because I do want to support up and coming acts and local artists. As for the big pop stars who provide me with some great running tunes, it’s hard to believe that my $10 will really make a difference, but again, I’ll try my best moving forward.

Thoughts? Do you spend money at Starbucks but skimp out on buying music? Do you think what you spend your money on says something about what you truly value?

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