My Last Hundred Bucks: Late Birthday Week Celebrations Edition

· $13.03, Basil Mediterranean Bistro & Wine Bar

In my three years here at the University of Virginia, this was the first time I went to eat at Basil that is located conveniently in the corner. I am normally not the type of person to eat out often because I would rather save up the money to buy other necessities, but this past week was a little different. I was determined to go with my friend for lunch as I knew if I didn’t go today, I was less likely to go any other time. I got the chicken and avocado Laffa and I absolutely loved it! One thing I noticed about the check was that they were offering a 10% discount if the payment was in cash, which I found interesting. Unfortunately, I did not have cash with me, so I had to pay with my debit card. Next time, I know that I should bring extra cash.

· $14.13, Lemongrass Restaurant

After a long day of golf and helping my friend with a photography session for her participation in a gallery, we decided to treat ourselves to good food. There was a basketball game going on at the John Paul Jones (JPJ) arena, so we had to vacate our usual parking spots there. Normally, my teammates and I would eat at the dining hall at JPJ that is specifically for athletes only. I also did not have food in my apartment to cook anything, so eating out seemed like the best option.

· $7.37, Charlotte Russe

My birthday was about three weeks ago, but I did not get to celebrate it since I was out of town each week for golf. When I finally had the opportunity to celebrate my birthday with my friends, I decided to find a cute pair of heels that would match my outfit. The fact that these pair of heels were on sale (originally $32) really convinced me to purchase a cute pair of heels that I definitely did not need. In my defense, I did not own a pair of heels of that same color before, so I like to think of it as a win-win situation.

· $31.59, Sephora

I also took one of my friends with me to go shopping. I was unable to buy her a birthday present as I have been away every week for golf. I thought that since I was late in buying her a gift, that it would be best to get her something that she needed and wanted. This process took out the “surprise” element in birthday present giving, but it worked out well. We both love make-up and settled with the awesome NARS concealer. I would highly recommend this product.

· $12.87, CVS/Pharmacy

I desperately needed to buy shampoo, conditioner and body wash since I had just finished using them. I decided to buy body wash in advance because I had a 30% discount from my ExtraCare card for CVS. Since I can only get these benefits from CVS, I typically wait until I have more than one item to buy so that I only need to stop by one store.

· $6- China Express

Intense shopping calls for some Chinese food at the mall! As I was in a rush to get back home to finish assignments, my friend and I got a quick bite at Chinese Express. My friend accidently spilled her entire meal in front of the cashier, though. They were generous enough to give her the same order, free of charge, since they saw how she spilled the food.

$20.02, Shell Gas Station

I was fortunate enough to bring my car down to college with me. I use my car every day to get to practice, but I don’t travel long distances. This helps me keep the gas bill down since I only refill once in about three to four weeks. Coincidently, the day I spent the most amount of money from eating out and shopping, was also the day my car was dangerously low on gas; I had no choice, but to fill the tank all the way. I am very aware of the gas prices and always make sure that I go to the gas station with the best deal; today the price was at $2.17/gallon.

Looking through the ways I spent my last $100, I want to relate my spending habits to Frederick Wherry’s concept of the four ideal types of social characterizations of price for individuals in a pricing system. He argues that price constructs certain social implications and boundaries in that price helps define categories and create meaning behind things we buy and sell. People are socially categorized through their consumption behavior. For example, my consumption behavior this past week may define me as “the frivolous”, which is defined as someone who spends money without thought, but is near average or mainstream social status. I acted like a “noncalculating individual” because I bought the food and the items due to my emotional feelings; none of those items were a necessity, but I bought them because I could and I wanted to. What surprised me was that usually, I would be considered as “the frugal”, someone who calculates and reasons when buying. It was interesting for me to realize that if someone had just looked at my last $100 spending the past week without actually knowing me personally, they would categorize me as the irrational spender.

Another concept that I could relate my $100 spending is to Viviana Zelizer’s idea of how money constantly changes social meaning; money makes everything comparable and quantifiable and takes away the emotional value to function in economic terms. The concept of “special monies” explains how it is morally or ritually ranked, meaning that not all monies are necessarily equal. Certain types of money can only be used to some places to buy specific things, but cannot be used to buy other things. For instance, when I went to Basil Restaurant in the Corner, my check read: 10% off if paid in cash. The money in my checking account (paid by using debit card) is technically equivalent to that of the physical cash that is taken out from the ATM. However, in this case, the physical cash seems to have more value (most likely because the card transaction fees restaurants have to pay when using debit or credit cards). As a consumer, it made me feel as if I should always have cash with me so that I could potentially have incentives over using my debit or credit card.

I applied the same concept of special monies when I shopped at CVS as well. The ExtraCare 30% off coupon delayed my purchase of the shampoo and conditioner as I could not buy these items at any other stores with the same deal. This type of coupon and discount that is accepted only at certain stores gives a more symbolic significance of money.

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