Just How Naughty Are These Ladies?

There’s an article in today’s N.Y. Times about how many women buy luxury items with cash instead of a credit card so their boyfriends or husbands won’t find out and hassle them. “His tastes aren’t as expensive as mine, and he doesn’t understand the need to have so many pricey things,” says one woman who is paying cash for a $2,000 black Chanel tote. “Even though I have my own income, paying for my shopping in cash is so much easier than having a discussion about what I’m buying.”

The woman quoted above is Shalla Azizian, a 50-year-old woman in Manhattan who owns a lingerie boutique. But here’s what I don’t follow:

1. Since Ms. Azizian owns her own business and has her own income, couldn’t she just as easily have her own credit card accounts that her husband doesn’t need to see?

2. If Ms. Azizian’s purchase is meant to stand as a representative anecdote for an article about women who don’t want their men to know they’re buying luxury goods, why is she telling a N.Y. Times reporter about spending $2,000 in cash on a Chanel bag? (And posing for a photograph, too.)

3. Instead of representing a sort of quirky female behavior provoked by the misogynistic behavior of husbands and boyfriends — a story line seemingly embraced by the article’s author, Shivani Vora, when she writes “though this is 2007, not 1957” — what if this article is really about something else entirely? What if it’s really about women who run boutiques or other businesses that take in a lot of cash and simply want to spend the cash without declaring it? Is this misogyny-driven spending article really an article about soft-core money laundering? Am I a misogynist for even suggesting this?

4. If No. 3 were true — which it is probably not, and I do not assume any unlawful behavior on the part of Ms. Azizian or anyone else named in the article — then having your husband find out about your large cash purchases might be the least of your troubles. The people who might be most interested in your secret are the I.R.S.


kraigus

I ran a business selling PCs for a couple of years, and I'd say I had at least one customer a month come in and buy a PC (or a non-cheap peripheral like a scanner or monitor) with explicit instructions to call them at work only when it was ready for them to pick up - they didn't want their wives knowing. I never had a woman do that, but at a guess, my customers were ~85% male anyway. Some paid cash, most with cheque, and a few with credit cards.

I would tell them I would follow their instructions, but I would not lie for them. Thankfully, I was never put into that situation.

pkimelma

My wife owns a boutique, and they have a certain percentage of shoppers (including friends) who pay in cash for this reason (or in some cases, pay some amount with credit card and some with cash - sneakier yet). The reason is simply that they do not want to explain/justify the cost of these items (vs. some cheap "similar" item from a department store). We men rarely understand how a bag (for example) could cost that much money, when its intrinsic value/cost is so low (leather, canvas, etc). Although we will spend large amounts on gadgets and cars, we feel the underlying cost justifies it (or at least is a closer approximation). Many items that women buy are more like art - you are paying for the designer's design (art) rather than anything to do with the "value". But, since some women find it hard to educate their husbands/boyfriends on fashion, it is easier to pay in cash.

mckayvo

How do you turn a $2,000 bag in to a $2,500 bag? Have your wife make the purchase on her own credit card and pay it off a little at a time. Paying in cash probably does some good for the family finances by avoiding interest charges. "Sneak shopping" isn't exactly honest but, if you pay so little attention that you don't notice your wife's carrying a Chanel bag, you probably don't deserve 100% honesty.

lermit

Arguments have it easy here. You don't need to use cash in order to hide the expenditures just to bring one up, it's enough just with not agreeing on spending money for 'luxury items'.

Difference between spending money and spending income: priceless. Agreeing upon a figure: saves a lot in lawyer fees.

Who needs another Jag anyhow.

.lermit

sophie

It kinda reminds me of men who pay for luxury items - in cash - for their mistresses. Ooh! What an old-fashioned word! But it still does happen, and the idea is to make sure the Mrs doesn't know.

amit

It might also be a sign that a person' credit cards are maxed out, or they are already carrying a lot of debt on them -- but hey gotta have those jimmy choos !

bee

Interesting phenomena. Suggests that women know that they are acting outside the implied contract with their husbands/boy friends but wish to gloat to other women about their action. It seems like the photograph is an excellent example of passive aggressive behavior. This permits the women not only to violate the agreement but flaunt the act by securing public approval.

muhdsaifuddinj

Here's a Haiku called:
Luxuriousimus

Spend naughty ladies,
nobody hear your deep fear,
Ms Azizian dear.

Stop and tell him this,
so Dubner won't tell him that,
now your words kept here.

Who's trouble you ask,
be easy for the last task,
luxury goods last!

- www.haikunomics.blogspot.com

G.V.Varma

VANITY FAIR
VEBLEN GOODS
SNOB GOODS
OUT OF POCKETT EXPENSES
TRANSACTIONS DEMAND
LIQUIDITY PREFERENCE
50-27 GAP

mgroves

Or maybe they just like the idea of spending with actual cash money paper instead of swiping plastic. Any commoner can swipe plastic after all, but only the truly rich can throw huge wads of cash around (or so these women might think)?

Bald Idiot

There's no misogynistic behavior described in the article discussed. The article explicitly points out that when the men in these relationships do the same thing, they also expect to be raked over the coals -- the difference is that the men usually opt to endure the grilling, whereas the women opt to avoid it.

dgou

Not Safe For Work, but I this is a very interesting development (unless it is already "old news"): http://susiebright.blogs.com/susie_brights_journal_/2007/01/this_is_your_br.html

lermit

That's the infamous and never fully explored 'fallacy of the arbitrary price vs. value dychotomy'. It means that price is arbitrary. Cost is not a function of price or value or cost itself. It's a contemporary thing. Not a luxury item thing. Makes for a good dissertation topic.

It explains, among many other things, the choice for cash payments as a relevant option. Your comment shows that you really need some home improvement in your domestic relationship and I really hope you don't have anything going with bag fethises!

.lermit

lermit

Not really. Price is not a function of cost in any event. If that explains something. What about the bags? Do you have such a fetish?

.lermit

socialismisevil

The cash could also come from illegal acts they perform.
These women as well as the author could be, oh forget could be, lets just be asa presumptuous as they are, they could be misandrists.
Dont know that word??
Of course not as the mostly liberal/feminized media doesnt tackle such an issue.
These women who hide their use of cash as a need to hide it from "evil" men, mysogontic men at that, they are misandrists to be sure.
Haters, users of men for thier money or power.
Sure the women might own their own business and have that power but like Hillary Clinton wanted the power but not the responsibilty that the man has to shoulder.
think about it!!

pkimelma

Price is elastic for most items. For many luxury goods, you can sell more items with a higher price (regardless of underlying cost) due to the exclusivity it offers. That is, there are a large number of customers who would be put off by too low a price, as that would telegraph that it is available to anyone.
Not sure where the "bag fetish" thing came from. Handbags are simply a good example of pricing being completely out of line with cost/value. Clothes are more likely to follow the price/cost trend (more expensive materials will mean more expensive street price, etc). But, you may see a $2000 bag made of canvas or other cloth next to a $200 bag made of fancy leather. There is no connection between the cost (of materials and labor and marketing) and the price. Further, men are less likely to understand the meaning of handbags, since they are not something we tend to notice.

lermit

Well, not really, I insist.

Glad to know that you are sorting the 'bag fetish' out. I usually get tangled in shoes without shoelaces. But I'll spare you the kinky stuff.

.lermit

JoeKeeley

My ex-wife did this to me (I'm a CPA who let her handle all of "our" monies).

When I found out I (we?) were broke despite my healthy six-figure income, I took over the management of our finances and found out I deeply embezzled from.

She, quite innocently explained, "Your income is ours, my income is mine". I found out thousands of cash was funneled from "our" accounts into hers every month. She seemed to think this was her right as a woman/wife and a modern sign of her "independence'.

"I am woman, see me score!" ;)

Not only was I stolen from, but I paid the thief's taxes on her loot.

People who blame misogyny on men, should consider blaming the (few) women who give (many) women the bad reputation. Men aren't the enemy of good women; bad women are.

lermit

It's like that Oscar Wilde quote:

"America had been discovered before but she had always been hushed up"

Couples should be able to discuss income for domestic finances and marriages to work.

My trauma is being young, single and successful. Must be that I place excessive emphasis on my career in finance...

.lermit

susiebright

I also found the story completely disingenuous, and annoying, in that "rich ditzes on the loose again" sort of way. You think about what someone was paid to make that Chanel retail bag, and the mind reels.

We also get the usual dog treat of seeing how a woman's "secret" disposable income is spent on trinkets, instead of sex, like her husband's might be. Ugh. I'd be so much more interested in the story of a woman who paid for exquisite erotic services with her own credit card, and chalked it up to "Meals and Entertainment" on her Schedule C.

Thanks for the link, by the way, or I never would have found this to tear my hair out over!