Has How We Spend Our Money Made Us Grumpy

Spending money is a privilege

Does anyone remember the good old days? I'm talking the days when you had to go to an actual ticket booth to buy concert tickets, or when you actually had to walk the grocery store aisle to find what you needed. Yeah, those days. I remember them like they were yesterday. Mostly because I'm getting older and the years just seem to blur together. I legitimately thought that a Juicy J song (yes, I like Juicy J) was from 2008 when in reality it was from a 2013 album. IT WAS WILD, YOU GUYS.

Over the weekend I realized that it had been an extremely long time since I actually had to communicate with a human while buying an item. Other than the occasional dinner out I make most of my purchases online, which is pretty typical of anyone between the ages of 18 to well, 60. I'll include some real statistics though because I know my super scientific research of personal experience doesn't make everyone buy into what I'm saying. Also, I think we all know millennials excel in this category, but the millennial storyline is kind of played out, so I'll let the numbers do the talking for me.

All this graph demonstrates is that I'm probably not alone. I mean, let's think about it together...

When was the last time you:

  • Didn't go to self-checkout at a grocery store when you had less than 20 items?

  • Went to the mall or to a store to buy a new outfit or electronic?

  • Booked a dinner reservation over the phone?

  • Ordered takeaway food without an app?

For me, it's been about four months since I didn't do self-checkout or online pick up for groceries and it's been about 8 months since I bought clothing or electronics in store. It's not hard to avoid human contact when it comes to spending our money anymore, which often makes me wonder whether or not this is why people seem so grumpy all the time.

It takes little to no time to have or get the things that we want

There are many areas of life that have gone from a reasonable level of expectation to a stress-filled level of demand. Your work expects you to be available at all times and customers and clients expect to be treated as though they are entitled to what they want and when they want it. At the end of the day, the fluidity of spending money and receiving goods has become insanely fast. If you need diapers for your baby, you can have them delivered to your front doorstep within 24 hours. If you want your coffee ready before you even arrive at Starbucks, you can order with just three quick taps. We have been conditioned to feel that because we are comfortable spending the extra money, we should receive things on demand.

People have an unrealistic idea of what they deserve because when they spend their money on something that offers quick and painless customer service they cannot comprehend why anything will go wrong. "How did they mess up my order? It's 2018" is a common saying in the English language these days. Not only is this type of spending making us grumpy because its given us the crazy idea that because things are able to be done in a short period of time, but because if it isn't done in the time we expect, we immediately get mad at the person who has little to no control over the outcome.

The lack of human interaction has affected our feelings towards others

A study that estimates how consumers will behave by 2020 found that 86% of shoppers are willing to spend more money for a better customer experience. However, the ability to measure that customer experience doesn't really stand. I mean, I for one know that depending on what my purchase is, I find it difficult to have a comfortable and meaningful interaction with the client or customer service representative I'm dealing with. It doesn't take much for me to feel as though there is no common courtesy left whether it's something as small as a please and thank you.

It used to mean so much for someone to spend their money on material things, but these days the spending is expected. Go to a coffee shop to work? Not within spending $6 on a latte you won't. Have someone look up a size in another store for you? "Oh, you can actually just look that up on our app." Due to the fact that we rarely communicate with strangers anymore, our desire to do so makes it easy to negatively view an interaction before it has even occurred.

googly doll eye roll GIF by The Last Man On Earth

People no longer get the answers they need

Because we cannot simply ask a question about a product, service or experience, many people will do their best to find a general answer within the FAQs or by pulling up the online chat box. However, when the answer they need isn't available, accurate or easy to find — they become upset. I mean, hey. It's understandable. If you are going to market your product online, it's a good idea to have your website up to snuff or a wicked customer service team who is available to answer questions. But on the flip side of things, it's perfectly normal to make a phone call or go into a store if you need questions answered. In fact, it's good to do research and determine whether this purchase is right for you. It might take your anger level from a 10 to a zero — which is (math) 10 whole levels of less anger in your life.

Consumers feel invincible — and they kind of are

The number of restaurants I can get a cheeseburger from, the number of stores I can buy my favourite type of mascara from, and the multiple brands of clothing I can choose from that carry similar styles are unlimited. There are not many one-of-a-kind products left in our world today. Therefore, when we don't get what we want and become grumpy consumers, we know that we are able to threaten to leave. The problem? Stores know that although you may leave, another consumer will come to replace them within seconds. When you are upset and nobody cares, you get grumpy. In fact, a Salesforce survey found that 75% of consumers expect consistent experiences across multiple platforms, and 73% of those people will leave if they feel those expectations are not being met.

Being a customer that is left less than satisfied due to our unrealistic expectations is the reality of what this style of spending has done to human beings. It takes very little to cause us to become upset and it takes a lot to impress us. To be perfectly honest with you, it's almost unsettling.

So, what is our takeaway today?

Spending money is a privilege and we should not allow the variety of ways we are able to do so affect our emotions as much as we do. We are fortunate to be able to receive things as quickly as we do. We are fortunate to be able to find multiple versions of one product at a wide range of pricing. The next time you're feeling grumpy because of the way you're spending your money, remember that just 10 years ago you would have been able to get that same product — but it wouldn't have been quite as simple as it is right now.

Have you ever let your expectations get the best of you? Share your story in the comments! Xo