No, not those kind of beans. Not the pretty ones in a jar, sweet and fruit-flavored, color coordinated to the holiday of your choice.
Baked beans? Now we’re getting warmer. Baked beans of franks & beans fame. Baked beans that I also never cared for, and was grateful to my mother for not including in our diet. This, though I hail from the baked bean capital of the country, also known as Bean Town, also known as Boston.
Pros and Cons in Every Region
New England is an historic and lovely part of the country, and like other regions, features its share of fine points and drawbacks. Both are, of course, subjective.
Still, the Boston area boasts incredible academic power, an interesting arts scene, and beauty for all seasons – if you don’t mind the longest of them filled with sooty snow and bust-the-bank heating bills.
All moaning and groaning over the wintry weather aside, Boston is a great town in many ways. No doubt we can say the same for cities we love all across our native countries, recognizing why we stay and why we leave.
How You Spend = What You Value
A few months ago I wrote on the ways in which how we spend our time and money reflects the values that we live by. This musing derived from a post at LifeHack, and given that it is the spending season, The New York Times offers us a glance at American consumption patterns. Not surprising, it differs by region.
Boston was among the cities included, and I was taken aback by how closely my spending patterns align with those of my home town, despite relocating two decades ago.
In What People Buy Where, social standing is explored via the purchase of goods and services. The data reveal that New Yorkers love their luxury watches, residents of Dallas are big on wardrobes, and yup… Bostonians are more likely to spend on education.
Watches? Makeup? Country Clubs?
Here is an excerpt (and comparison), by way of example:
The average household in Dallas will spend about 17 percent more — roughly $850 more per year — on status goods like watches, jewelry, high-end makeup and country-club memberships than a similar household in Boston.
Considering the way I grew up (and those I know, still in the Boston area), I’m not surprised. Bling is not the thing – when it comes to Bean Town.
So what about those New Yorkers we assume spend, spend, spend?
New York, New York
The article informs us:
In terms of pecking order, New Yorkers are tops when it comes to spending on status goods, followed by residents of Dallas, Los Angeles and San Diego.
In contrast –
Bostonians spend more on college and private-school tuition, give more money to political and charitable institutions and consume more coffee and books.
Do We Retain Childhood Values?
Despite relocating long ago, and having lived in a variety of places (including Dallas, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Paris), my adult spending priorities are right in line with the Bostonian profile, with the exception of private schools (as mentioned recently).
While the article refers to the “place effect” and mentions economist Thorstein Veblen (who introduced us to conspicuous consumption), the writer does not explore what underlies these spending patterns.
In other words, the ways in which spending reflects cultural values that begin with our home life, and are reinforced by extended family, peers, schooling, local media, local commerce, local climate, demographics and other factors explicit to the region. Local history comes into play as well.
“I Grew Up in a House of Books”
When you are raised in an environment in which books and education are both substance and status, you absorb the importance of books and education. Likewise, in my opinion, everything from issues of social responsibility to the “makeup factor”… which is in fact included in the data presented.
I was speaking with an old friend recently, who was raised in the Midwest. His place is as jammed with overflowing bookcases and stacks of texts as mine, which he explains simply as: “I grew up in a house of books.”
His parents and grandparents were readers; learning was a fundamental cultural value. Geography was not the source of those values; home life was.
Absorbing Regional Influences
In light of this, I will be interested to see if my Bostonian tendencies will pass along to my sons, also raised in a house of books, albeit in the Southeast.
So what can we take from these statistics on spending?
As in any other example of data applied to people or regions as a whole, we need to remember there are exceptions. That said, reflecting our spending patterns back to us, we might do well to pay attention.
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