Over at Cognitive Daily, they conducted an informal poll regarding how thrifty people perceive they are. The most interesting result however is that most people believe they are the most thrifty person they know.
Early in my marriage, I discovered quickly that different people perceive the value of certain goods differently. My wife is thrifty and very responsible with money and we see most things eye-to-eye. When it comes to the extra things in life that provide pleasure and are free spending, we found that we enjoyed very different things. She can’t relate with why I like to buy music and I can’t relate to why she likes to buy “extra” clothes. It’s not that we don’t understand that those things give the other person pleasure, it’s that those are not the things that give us pleasure.
If you don’t make the connection in the final sentence, then it’s pretty easy to assume the other person is being “wasteful” because if you were buying those things, it would feel wasteful. In this way, both parties start seeing themselves as the conservative spender, when in reality, they are both conserving (my wife is saving money on music, I’m saving money on clothes), but in different ways.
This applies to so many areas of life, it is difficult to even begin listing them. We inherently understand our own actions and our own rationalizations, and unless we recognize that the way we rationalize our own actions is different than the way others rationalize theirs, we can judge them as being wrong or having improper motives. This is why so many people see those around them as wasteful — others are buying those things which we consider to be unimportant.
Recognizing that our perceptions are fallible and that others see things differently, can open us up to an entirely new world and we can get a much better view of the things around us.