Money Dials – Why You Spend The Way You Do

Last week, one guy shared his perfume collection on Twitter. There were up to 20 (if not more) different brands. I wanted them all. I imagined for a moment what I would do if those were mine. And while I was imagining walking into a room and dazzling people with my scent, the slow realization of how much it must have cost him to get those bottles hit me hard like a fresh spray of Oud. 

Twitter went wild on him of course.

“Why would a guy have this much perfumes?”
“That’s gay.”
“He’s just showing off.” 

I shared the image with a friend of mine who said it was nothing compared to his uncle’s collection. His uncle, according to his last count, had a wardrobe of perfumes and an extra box stowed away. In total, he estimated the uncle had about 100 bottles (oils included). No, he does not sell them. He simply loves collecting them. 

You and I could say that is being extravagant (and maybe it is). We say it all the time when we see people spend so much on something we think is not that important. 

But it is…to them. That is their Money Dial. 

Let me explain. 

What is Money Dial?

Money dial is something you ENJOY spending on. It’s called a dial because you can ‘turn it’ up or down depending on how important it is to you. 

Some people love to spend on fancy clothes, cars, perfumes, shoes, bags. You name it. Their money dial is a fancy lifestyle. The same people might not like eating out or paying for deliveries. 

Warren Buffet is a multi-billionaire that still lives in the same house he has lived in for over 60 years. He doesn’t care much about a big house or driving the latest cars. But he spends heavily on his self-development, particularly on books and self-development courses.

You see, when we don’t understand people’s Money Dial we call them names like humble, stingy, or extravagant. We all have different spending habits that define our Money Dials.

There are common Money Dials that people generally tend to move toward. And we should not judge them.

I remember it used to bother me when I hear some of my friends going out to eat at restaurants every single workday at lunch. One is a Corper (and we all know how much alawee is) but she goes out to eat at this nice cafe in Abuja every single day. She spends nothing less than 2k on lunch. But the same girl prefers to take ‘along’ than to hire a taxi to ride all by herself.

What I have come to learn is that people have different Money Dials. Simple. And I have to respect that. You should to.

‘Along’  is a public taxi in Abuja that you share with other passengers (4 in the back, 2 in front). They only pick you up if you are going ‘along’ their way. It is very inconvenient. 

Common Money Dials

1. Convenience – anything that will make your life more convenient. You don’t mind paying for:

  • Deliveries
  • Househelp (more than one if you have to)
  • Drivers
  • Uber/Taxify/Taxi/Personal Keke Guy that picks you up

2. Travel – you like to travel and/or travel in style

  • You fly First-class or Business seats only
  • You travel every chance you get
  • You budget all year just to make one big trip
  • You have special, expensive travelling bags

3. Fitness – you love your health and will pay anything to take care of that sexy body

  • Gym membership
  • Healthy drinks 
  • Supplements
  • Home equipment
  • Carefully prepped meals
  • Selective workout gears (Nike products only, for example)

4. Cost – you do anything to avoid extra costs. This is where most of us fall into. Sadly though, most people never end up enjoying luxury things just for the fun of it. On the flip side though, this can help you save money. The question is; are you being stingy or are you being wise?

  • You like to ‘manage’ things when they are broken or need replacements
  • You let price be the main determining factor for buying anything

5. Lifestyle – this is the one we get to see since it is right in our face

  • Nice clothes from X tailors and Y brands
  • Expensive shoes/bags/accessories
  • Latest smartphones and gadgets

6. Gadgets – not to be confused with lifestyle. People with this have specific gadget requirements and specs.

  • Gamers/programmers with a specific computer memory/performance requirement
  • You only buy gadgets from X brand because of quality

Why Should You Care?

The key is for you to understand what your Money Dial(s) is. Accept it and be unapologetic about it. If someone does not understand why you are spending N60k for a one-way business class flight when an economy seat is available for N25k, that is their problem. They will call you extravagant but you know what you are paying for – convenience (and perhaps the opportunity to network with important people). 

Some people are frugal on everything and they end up being miserable and stingy. What is the point of having money (no matter how little) if you can’t spend it on the things you love?

Spend unapologetically on the things you love.
Cut mercilessly on the things you don’t. 

If you don’t care much about high-class brands, avoid them. Go for the ones you can afford that are equally good. 

People tend to move toward their Money Dial. Fit people spend time and money being fit. Food lovers spend most of their time on food blogs and trying out new menus. Fashionistas do the same for fashion blogs and are always trying out new designs. I spend a few hours every week on aviation blogs, playing flight simulator with other players around the world, and don’t mind buying aviation games.

Embrace Your Money Dials

Take a moment and go through your expenses. You might discover things you pay for often that you didn’t realize you like.

Don’t feel bad if you realize you are spending a hefty sum on your Money Dial. Embrace it. As long as you are cutting down on other things you don’t care about, you are actually in control of your personal finance. 

This is called Conscious Spending. You are aware of what is going on. You are in control. You are deliberate.

Money Dial helps you diagnose what you THINK is important and what is ACTUALLY important to you. 

Once you figure out your Money Dial, you can ‘turn’ it up like a volume control. You will be able to recognize that people have different dials. You will find that you no longer judge people based on their spendings. You have yours, after all, and you get why people spend the way they do.

Interestingly though, most people don’t know they have Money Dials. So you will understand them better than they do themselves. 

Finding your Money Dial can be scary and liberating at the same time.

Scary because you realise, “Holy shit! I’ve been spending this much on X?”

Liberating because you can comfortably say to anyone (and yourself), “This is important to me…and this isn’t.”

Money Dials can shape your entire life. If you just sit back and go with the flow, you will always wonder where your money goes to. And why. So why not take control and allocate your resources accordingly?

This is the foundation of personal finance – being in control.

Action Step

I want you to identify your money dials. If you’re unsure what they are, go through your latest bank statement. 

Tell me the following in the comment sections:

  • What do you ENJOY spending on?
  • What do you DISLIKE spending on?
  • What dial(s) do you plan on turning up and down?

PS: One of my money dials is the internet. I’m always impatient when it comes to surfing the net and streaming. I go the extra mile to make sure I have a reliable WiFi at all times. What’s yours?

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