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How Being A Pessimist Saves You Money

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Frowning GoldfishI’m not a pessimist but I know enough of them to know that being a pessimist can save you a lot of money. A pessimist is someone who sees a glass filled halfway with water as being half empty. In a beautiful blue sky, they see the clouds in the distance and ready their umbrella. They see insurance not as a protection against the unknown but as an investment in the future. :)

As much as society may frown on being such a negative Nancy (sorry in advance to all the Nancy’s out there), I think sometimes being pessimistic can save you money.

Feel Buyer’s Remorse Before Buying

Ever spend a lot of money on something only to feel a pang of regret afterwards? That’s buyer’s remorse. You get so excited about all the benefits of something that you don’t recognize some of the drawbacks until it’s too late. The reason this happens is because people see something and amplify the good and don’t consider any of the bads.

Approach is like a pessimist and feel buyer’s remorse before you buy it! :) Will it really solve all of your problems or make you feel better? If you think about it before you make the purchase, you might get an answer that stops you from buying.

Forces You To Be Realistic

Imagine buying a fancy new convertible. You think about how you could drive with the top down when the weather’s nice, you dream about the image it projects of you, you envision yourself meeting some cute guy or girl through your car. The problem with those three things is that they aren’t an accurate reflection of how you’ll really use it. You certainly could drive with the top down but how temperate is your climate? Could you do it on a drive to work? How often to you leisurely cruise around on weekends? What about when gas is $4 a gallon? As for the image and meeting new people, how often have you met someone or thought highly of someone solely based on the model of their car?

Add a drop of pessimism in there and maybe that mid-life crisis won’t be so expensive. :)

Become An Advocate

Approaching it like a pessimist forces you to be an advocate for your purchase and makes you argue against all the negatives. It forces you to confront and address all the bad things about something.

Let’s say you buy a video game system, will you really have the opportunity to play it? Let’s say you get home from work at 6pm, maybe you go to the gym for an hour, you eat dinner for an hour, you spend some time with a significant other or watch your favorite TV show(s), that leaves little time before bedtime for the game so it’s relegated to the weekend. On the weekends, how often will you actually get the play it instead of doing something else? Perhaps more in the winter, less in the summer when the weather’s nice. Does it truly make sense to drop hundreds of dollars on a system now? Maybe it’s better to wait until the weather is colder and save the money. You may not even want a game system then (or a better one will have come out).

Can you think of any ways pessimism can save you money that I missed? If you’re a card carrying member of Pessimists Society I most definitely would want to hear your opinion!

(Photo: bensonkua)

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13 Responses to “How Being A Pessimist Saves You Money”

  1. Daniel says:

    On a related, pessimistic note: For about two years now, I have been convinced that I was soon to be laid off from work. This has greatly motivated me to stash away savings like never before.

    Sure, I probably have an ulcer from worrying so much – but hey, I got my emergency fund built up nicely!!

  2. Carla says:

    I don’t see your examples as pessimism, you’re just being realistic and actually thinking though your decisions.

    Definition of pessimism: “1 an inclination to emphasize adverse aspects, conditions, and possibilities or to expect the worst possible outcome”

    To me, that’s no way to live.

  3. I identify with the first one a lot — I agonize so much over some purchases that I just never make them! Sadly, this applies to things that I really *should* just get over with anyhow, like my textbooks (rushing to try and get them now for cheap, ugh) and the next tattoo I’d like to get. (Tattoos aren’t cheap and a lot of money to part with at once… So I agonize over spending the money though I love the final result.)

    Can’t imagine buying a convertible, I own two. :) One’s got a hardtop, though, and the other will end up with one eventually. They just aren’t always fun. You get tired of messing with it (mine’s a manual top) and somedays it is just too HOT to drive with the top down. Can’t say $4 gas was ever a problem, both of my convertible sports cars can easily get 30 MPG and cost less to fill up than one SUV. That was regular gas for one and premium for the other, too.

    And for car people, a lot of snap judgements are made based on the car someone drives. If you care, then it shows… Not always in a good way. (Ex. Ricers.)

    I know the point that was being made, but I always have to add that it isn’t *always* that way. I’m sure if you want a mid-life crisis car, a $2.5k Miata would do very nicely. Or a $23k Viper if you’re expensive like that. ;)

  4. Debt Kid says:

    I’m definitely a pessimist when it comes to purchases! For me it’s thinking about buying a house. For some reason I have this strange desire to purchase a home, but then I just remind myself:
    - I don’t have great credit
    - I don’t have a large downpayment
    - I can get a rental with 2x the square footage

    Being a pessimist helps keep my unreasonable desires in check.

  5. Stella says:

    Great post. I posted something similar a while back–only instead of “pessimist” it was “How Being a SKEPTIC Can Save you Money”-the jist being if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

  6. I wish I got buyer’s remorse before I bought! Thinking of pessimists I know, they do spend less money. But I think of them as being more miserly than frugal. Frugal people seem to delight in their frugality.

  7. MoneyEnergy says:

    Well, in terms of investing, look at all the bears! If you have a bearish (i.e., pessimistic) outlook on economic and/or market prospects, you might be inclined to save more money and invest in more conservative vehicles. You will definitely not risk your money on speculative stocks which might never come through for you. So it could save your money here by not squandering it in the wrong stocks, and would prevent you from jumping on any panic buying bandwagon!:)

  8. Great post!

    I’m with Stella– Be skeptical.

    I have posted repeatedly on thinking before buying . . .

    Here is the latest: Just Say No!
    http://divorceddadfrugaldad.com/2009/08/27/just-say-no.aspx

  9. Patrick says:

    I am also a pessimist when it comes to buying things. It’s really strange considering I am an optimist in everything else in my life. It doesn’t always feel great to feel that remorse after you spend a lot of money, especially on something I didn’t really need.

    Great advice on how to move that pessimism to before you buy something. You can really save tons of money on things you don’t need.

  10. It definitely is true. My husband and I wanted to take a trip to Ireland this summer, but we were absolutely convinced that we were going to lose our jobs so we saved instead. It definitely saved us a lot of money, but now that our jobs are a lot safer, I kind of wish we could have taken the trip.

  11. That’s exactly how I operate. I never took the time to budget because, I think if I knew how much I could actually afford, I might spend it. Instead, I give myself an ulcer whenever I spend a single cent. I once had a conversation with a friend:

    “…I bought these thinking they’d be a cheap alternative to Ramen Noodles, but they were disgusting…”
    “Dude…Ramen IS the cheap alternative.”

    I think if I had a realistic outlook, I wouldn’t save nearly as much.

  12. I think being a pessimist is definately an advantage for the frugal. It’s only when you can evision things not working out that you can walk away from buying something with confidence in your convictions. The optimist thinks everything will work out in the end and may be tempted to buy something he really can’t afford.

    Neither optimist or pessimist have a full grasp of reality, but the pessimist is in a better defensive position for the many times things don’t go according to plan.

  13. Francois levesque says:

    I am a pessimist because i am scared of Poverty ..i question everything i buy. and i live on very little . I’ve been retired since 2002 and have 135,000. $ in savings and 185,000.$ in an annuity my early pension is only 1270..$ a month and i manage to save 450.$ a month and i do not work All because i am a Pessimist Person Thats all
    Thanks


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