Is extravagance all bad? (Extravagance Part 1)

On a scale of 1-10 how much do you approve of extravagance? 1 = not at all, 5 = I don’t feel strongly about it, 10 = What’s there to disapprove of, I LOVE extravagance!!!!

I don’t know about you, but the words IT DEPENDS are flashing in my brain right now.

By extravagant do you mean wasteful?
Are you talking about being extravagant with something I have or extravagance beyond my means?
Is this extravagance at the cost of something else more important?

Is the extravagance for me or for others?

On the other hand I have to admit that on a gut reaction level I think the idea of extravagance basically appeals to me. Note the word admit! Clearly some part of me wants to apologize for this!

The Oxford Dictionary defines extravagance as:

A lack of restraint in spending money or using resources.

The Cambridge Dictionary has an even more judgemental slant:

Behaviour in which you spend more money than you need to.

Something expensive that you buy even though you do not need it.

If the latter is the accepted meaning – who could possibly be qualified to declare something definitively extravagant?

Need is a very hard thing to tie down! A recipe may say that I need some passata, but do I really? Surely I could buy a tin of chopped tomatoes instead? But which tin? To be truly un-extravagant I would need to buy the cheapest tin of chopped tomatoes available taking into account fuel costs for getting to the shop that sells it. And if we are going that far – do I really NEED a tomato based ingredient at all? Is there something equally nutritious that would cost less? Is it ok to be extravagant with other people’s welfare because the shop that employs them sells things more cheaply than the one next door? Define all that Cambridge Dictionary!

Extravagance is surely all about comparison and proportion. If you spend more on something than I would, or you buy something that I wouldn’t buy at all I might feel able to call you extravagant. Meanwhile someone else will be convinced that what I spend on ______ is ridiculous and will fail to see any justification for the amount I regularly spend money on ______.

If a family on a high income spends £__ on a holiday, is that less extravagant than a family on a lower income who spend the same amount on the same holiday?

Labelling something as extravagant, it seems, is as much an emotional reaction to an expenditure (whether of money or resources) as it is a statistical one – if not more so.

Extravagance is excess – and we will all differ on what we feel deserves an excessive expenditure. Whether that be of time, energy, emotions or money. There will be excesses that appaul us and others that we barely spot because they don’t seem excessive to us. Which then brings us to the idea of the value we put on things.

I promise you I am getting somewhere with all this – but in a rather meandering way – do come along for the ride or just catch it later for the conclusion! More next time, but to finish another scale and some quotations.

On a scale of 1-10 how extravagant are you?

I don’t know about you, but that just precipitates lots of interesting questions rather than a number.

A miser grows rich by seeming poor; an extravagant man grows poor by seeming rich. William Shenstone*


There is a time for risky love. There is a time for extravagant gestures. There is a time to pour out your affections on one you love. And when the time comes – seize it, don’t miss it. Max Lucado*

I don’t take fancy vacations. I buy all my jewelry at Claire’s. I can’t remember the last time I went out to a fancy dinner. My family lives in a modest two-bedroom apartment, and my kids share a bedroom. But I do have one extravagant vice: shoes. Nancy Lublin*

* Quotes taken from




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