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Semantics of Money

What do You Mean by the Semantics of Money?

Many times I hear some interesting phrases from folks. While these expressions sound positive, if you look a little closer, they are actually fallacies.

I just saved $10 by Not Buying Lunch

Yes, on the face of this statement, you have saved money, and it is certainly better than going out and buying lunch, but you didn’t really save it as much as you didn’t spend it. You really don’t have any more money, but you do not have less, so it seems like a wash.

An absurd extension of this statement would be, “I just saved $24987 by not buying a Camry today”.  That money is not saved, it is just money not spent.

I can see why people say that because no one would care if you said, “I didn’t lose money today by buying lunch”, although I’d like the statement, I’m sure many people would be put off by your truthiness.

I saved $200 when I bought my new Big Screen TV

I like the sentiment, that you didn’t spend as much on your big screen TV, however you didn’t really save that money, you simply spent less. All you did was spend less money.

This statement is a pet peeve of mine, because of the way people make the statement, you saved money by spending money? Unless you are buying into an IPO of a company at below market price (and even then…) I think this is another fallacy that we all live with. You didn’t save you spent less that is all (good for you for paying less, but you didn’t save).

I saved $200 by Installing the Dishwasher Myself

If you are a handy person, and you have a great deal of confidence in your skills, good on you, but you didn’t save that money, you simply didn’t spend it. Another thing to think of, is just how long did it take you to install the dishwasher? How much is your time worth? (but that argument is for another post, I am sure). Should the system breaks down later, due to your lack of skill, have you saved any money?

If you can do this, go right ahead. Maybe you know someone who you trust to do this, even better (but remember to offer to compensate them for their help too, in some fashion (be it a beer, or a trade in services)). There is no savings here.

Disclaimer: In no way am I espousing paying full price for things you can get at a discount, nor am I espousing buying your lunch every day, nor if you can do your home installations that you should not do so, just pointing out how we use the language to stroke our own financial egos.

Feel Free to Comment

  1. Love it. You really should read page 179 of Wealthing Like Rabbits. Actually, you really should read the whole book but for now just check out that page. Trust me.

  2. Oh man nothing s$%ts me more than my partner telling me how much she “saved” on insert sale item here. She already has 2 wardrobes of clothes and regulary wares clothes that i say “gee is that new” no I’ve had it for 4 years.

  3. Yeah, like when they have deals at the mall for 50% off or buy two get one free, you don’t really save that money you’re actually spending it. Yes, you do pay a cheaper price than if you had paid the regular price but if you’re spending then you’re not really saving in the first place.

  4. Good point! I think this twist of words is especially present in advertising — especially those “the more you buy, the more you save!” gimmicks.

  5. I don’t get the argument, aren’t you just defining saved? I you save a peice of cake for later . . . did you magically make more cake? If you save gas by driving slower . . . did you magically make more gas?

    If you have money and are given the choice to use it or keep it and your decision is to keep it, you’ve saved it.

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