2. Spending money is a vehicle for overcommitting.
The biggest example of this is graduate school. The people who do best in a bad economy are those who are flexible about the types of jobs they can take and the types of careers they can move into, according to Philip Oreopoulos, professor of economics at University of Toronto. This flexibility is specifically limited if you go to graduate school – you commit two, three, four years to a given career whether or not it’s going to pan out for you in the long run. And you commit to paying back school loans, which means you need to take a job that earns enough to pay those loans.
This is one of the best arguments I've seen against graduate school. I know a lot of people choose graduate school because they don't know what else to do -- I know I've considered it! -- but my flexibility is key to my work satisfaction. I don't want to be a one-trick pony, I guess. There's something to be said for being an expert, but I like knowing a lot of about a lot of things. Pairing "jack of all trades" mentality with good organization, and you have someone who can manage projects, act as a liaison among lots of groups, and speak intelligently on a variety of subjects. Some knowledge empowers you. No one wants to be a slave to the "expert." That's how you get screwed by vendors, for example.
That said, I still want a(nother) graduate degree, but one that's solely for personal enrichment -- which means I don't NEED a degree. I just need to read and interact and engage...