An Avid Rag Reader Confesses: They Make Me Want to Spend More!

This guest post is from Paula Pant of Afford Anything, the blog that believes money should never hinder your dreams.

I have a confession. Normally I spend a lot of time emphasizing the importance of cultivating habits that reduce your desire to spend.

But I have one habit that makes me want to spend more money. It’s a practice — something I do almost daily — that convinces me that my current lifestyle isn’t good enough. It’s reading.

Yes, reading makes me want to spend more.

I avoid watching TV not only to steer clear of commercials but also to keep away from images and expectations — of the Real Housewives, of the Kardashians, of the Bachelorette — that make me think that those luxurious digs are normal, baseline standards.

But I’m a sucker for reading magazines. I read everything I can get my hands on. I love ‘em.

The more magazines I read, the more dissatisfied I am with my life.

Decorating magazines make me realize my life is devoid of granite countertops. Fashion magazines make me reflect on my sub-par wardrobe. Travel magazines make me want to buy an airline ticket immediately. Even “practical” magazines for working moms (I told you I read everything!) make me realize I’m not hosting good enough dinner parties.

What’s strange is that my buying impulses change based on what magazine is in my hands at that precise second. If I’m lounging around on a Saturday reading a huge stack of magazines, I can feel my ‘wants’ shift as I switch from title to title.

One second I’m thinking about how my wineglasses aren’t very elegant. The next second I’m wondering if we can build an arbor in the backyard.

The solution? Either give up magazines entirely (haha! not likely!) or focus on titles that reinforce what I want to want. That’s awkward phrasing — “what I want to want” — but I’m not editing it out because it succinctly states my point. Our reading material creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. Read more about the type of life you hope to build, and soon you’ll build it.

So I read magazines about money, entrepreneurship and motivation — not because those are the first titles to grab my attention (my attention goes straight to celebrity gossip), but because it illustrates the types of titles which I hope will grab my attention down the road.

What if I can’t resist a great fashion or home remodeling magazine? I pick the one that’s aimed at a budget-savvy readership, not the one that caters to luxury brand advertisers.

Photo Credit: Karen Horton


  1. 1


    “So I read magazines about money, entrepreneurship and motivation…”

    Reading about these things might actually be preventing you from *doing* these things. It’s one of those “self-help conundrums.” You spend all your time reading about how to make money, or get out of debt, or starting a business, or getting motivated by reading inspiring stories…but then it doesn’t go any further. As soon as the cover is closed, or you click to another website, the energy is lost.

    The only way to earn money, start a business or change your life is to STOP reading and START doing. You can spend your entire life planning, but unless you actually start doing something, you’ve accomplished nothing.

  2. 2


    You can change your habits! Reading about these things can cause you to feel bad or you can find ways to have some of these thing inexpensively. Sometimes a small change will improve a room such as a couple new pillows or a coat of paint. You don’t have to redo the whole place to feel good. You can use it to motivate you to earn more as well. The bottom line is it is up to yo to react to the magazines.

  3. 4

    Jessie says

    I agree with Steven. The more I read about developing good habits, the fewer I work to put into practice. :-)

    You could always read Consumer Reports and other good consumer publications, so that when you do spend money you’re getting the most value for your buck.

  4. 5

    Shannon Stout says

    Conversely, I watch shows like the Real Housewives because they show me that no matter how much I might try to keep up with the Joneses, there are some people that even the Joneses can’t keep up with. There is no finish line so i refuse to run the race.

  5. 6

    DC says

    Whether it’s Real Housewives or a slasher flick like Halloween X (replace X with however many have been cranked out), I’m always amazed at Hollywood’s idea of “middle class”. Bad guy with a knife chasing dumb teenagers through a home that could be on the cover of House Beautiful.

    Guess that makes Hollywood producers part of the 1%. :)

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    At 63 I don’t think my habits are going to get much better, lol but I do try. One thing you can do now that I just found about recently is subscribe to magazines on Kindle. Of course it’s fairly new and there aren’t a lot of magazines on there yet, but the idea is pretty good. I take my Kindle everywhere so having something to read all those times I’m just “waiting” is great!

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