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Buying Things That Cost A Lot

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How do you spend your money? Liz Waid and Colin Lowther look at the moral question of buying things that cost a lot of money.

Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Colin Lowther. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Follow along on YouTube
Voice 1 

What do you think of when you hear the word “luxury”? Some people may think of lying in the sand on a beautiful ocean beach. Others may think of sitting on a costly boat in the sun, enjoying a cold drink. These are experiences of luxury. But luxury also involves goods and services. Here are some real luxury goods that people can buy:

A solid gold baby bed for 16 million dollars

Women’s underwear, covered in jewels, for 10 million dollars

A brand-name watch for 42000 dollars

A popular hand bag for 4,900 dollars

A martini drink for 1,000 dollars

A one-person dinner for 270 dollars

Voice 2 

These are extreme examples of available luxury goods. Most people could never buy these expensive things. But many people can, and do. What makes people want luxury? Is it good for us? Today’s Spotlight is on luxury.

Voice 1 

To some people, luxury means excess, or having more than what is necessary. To others, luxury means goods and services that cost a lot of money. In this case, luxury can represent high quality. Or it can also just represent the image of a particular brand name. The Oxford Dictionary defines luxury as both a state of being and as a thing. It says that Luxury is a state of living with ease and excess. And it says Luxury is a thing that is not needed, but desired, expensive, and difficult to get.

Voice 2 

The global market for luxury goods and services is growing. Euromonitor reports that in five years, from 2010 to 2014, the luxury goods market grew 36%! It estimates that by 2019, the global market for luxury goods will have increased 88% in ten years.

man's arms with gold watch
Voice 1 

So why are luxury goods so popular, especially since they are difficult to get? One of the reasons is because they are so difficult to get. It makes people feel like they have status, or a high position, that other people do not have. The website Psychology Today states,

Voice 3 

“Buyers purchase luxury goods for different reasons. One reason is that luxury goods give a sense of status and wealth. They help people feel exclusive, or more rare and special than others.”

Voice 2 

Luxury brand names want to stay exclusive, or only available to a few people. They encourage the sense that people who buy their products are better than others. If too many people have a particular product, it loses its appeal. Simon Peck is from the House of Luxury, a company that sells watches and jewels. Peck told the BBC,

Voice 4 

“When the person who drives you around owns the same watch as you, it is time to look for something better.”

Voice 1  

But not everyone wants luxury just to feel better than everyone else. Some people simply want to be like everyone else. Farnoosh Brock writes a blog on the internet. She wrote about her desire for luxury products. Brock travelled several times to Japan. There, she saw many women with expensive, $5,000 bags. Then, she wanted one. She wrote about it on her blog ProlificLiving. She said that buying particular brands is very popular in Japan.

Voice 5

“The brand buying popularity in Japan is about a person’s place in society. The top Western brand names speak loudly in that culture. So naturally, everyone buys them. Possibly this is because everyone wants to belong – to be accepted as an equal.”

collection of clothes
Photo: Junko Nakase
Voice 1 

But Brock is also conflicted about the strength of her desire for a luxury bag. She writes,

Voice 5  

“I really, badly want a luxury Prada bag. Suppose I buy my Prada bag. Will I stop wanting the beautiful sun glasses that go with it? What about the perfect little black dress? Or will I need to learn to redefine the meaning of being pleased and satisfied?”

Voice 2

For other people, luxury is more about beauty. Writer Dana Thomas wrote a book about luxury. Thomas says that not all luxury is greed. She told the Luxury Society,

Voice 6 

“Luxury is moral when it comes from creativity and not greed. When you create to make something beautiful, then you are being moral, spiritual, and true.”

Voice 1 

Luxury does not have to only represent a fashionable brand. It can also represent high achievement in beauty and creativity. But you still need to have wealth in order to possess luxury.

Voice 2 

Buying and experiencing luxury puts a person in a rare group. Many, many people in this world are poor. The World Bank reports that more than 2 billion people live in poverty, and more than 1 billion live in extreme poverty. The United Nations reports that almost half of the world’s children live in extreme poverty. Three hundred million children actually go to bed hungry every night.

Voice 1 

The inequality of people living in poverty and in luxury is very clear. And it brings up an important question: is luxury morally WRONG? Is it wrong to spend 16 million dollars on a golden bed for a baby? Is it wrong to spend thousands of dollars on shoes? That money could buy food for very poor people. It could support schools. It could do many other things too

Voice 2 

This is a complex debate. You may not be able to buy $5,000 shoes. But you may be able to spend $50, or $100, or possibly even $500. These are still large amounts of money! Any of those amounts could help a poor person. But you need shoes too! How can you tell what exact amount is morally right to spend?

Voice 1 

Christian teaching moves the question away from numbers and products. The Christian Bible does not say that having wealth is wrong. Or even that desire for beauty and comfort is wrong. It says,

Voice 3

“Keep your lives free from the love of money. Be happy with what you have. For Jesus said, ‘I will never leave you.’”

Voice 2 

This teaching asks us to examine our hearts. Jesus’ followers believe that they do not have to chase wealth. They can have money, but they should not love money. They believe that God will provide for their needs, including the presence of Jesus.

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Jen Hawkins. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called “Buying Things That Cost a Lot”.

Voice 2 

Tell us what you think about today’s program. You can leave a comment on our website. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Do you own any luxury items? What is the most expensive thing you have ever bought? Why did you buy it? Write your answer in the comments below.

Join the discussion

110 comments
  • The most expensive thins I bought is my phone . It worth its price . It help me to do many tasks .

    • Hi
      Thank you for this information.
      I can’t say for sure that I bought an expensive things because all of things I want,my parents bought it for me. I think the most expensive is my phone,I used it to do my tasks and everything I want from it.

      • Spend money for poor people , can help them to live in good condition , i think it is better than buying luxury things.

  • Iam not sure Idonot have any expensive items , All items Ihave is almost normal prices,Ihave the idea of luxury is moral
    thank you so much

  • Until now, I have never owned any luxury items. Because I am living in a poverty area.
    When I was a student I bought an iPhone mobile that cost 1.000$. I bought it just simply I like it and I do everything to own it.
    Now I got married and my income is not high, I am focusing on buying foods and education, health more than buying luxury items.

    • Hello Tuan,

      I am sorry the new app does not yet have this ability. We are working on updating this. Thank you for your feedback.

  • From: ssramossilva@gmail.com
    To: spotlight program
    Subject: to answer the questions below
    Date: Sunday 26, July 2020
    Location: São Paulo city Brasil

    Dear Liz Waid, Colin Lowther, Jen Hawkins, and Michio Ozaki

    I want to thank you for bringing us more one great article, thank you very much.
    Question 1 – Do you own luxury items?
    Answer 1 – No, I do not.
    Question 2 – What is the most expensive thing you have ever bought?
    Answer 2 – My apartment where I live in it.
    Question 3 – Why did you buy it?
    Answer 3 – I bought it to have a roof to live because I needed a place to stay with my cats. Before, I lived in rented house and the rental was very expensive to pay.
    Thank you very much and God bless you.
    Severino Ramos

  • yes l have luxury item.
    sometimes i feel it makes in thr higher position
    i am brlonged
    i think ir is not good to me.

  • Yes I have a Luxury watch , its expensive . Most Peaple on our country love the fashion brands and luxury watch . And we spend our money to excess stuff.

    • Thanks from your information in different area.
      Mostly my idea is that we should not think like this that we are better than others.
      My phone cost is 400 $ and nothing else.

  • French minister says : The Brands are lie , it made by smart people and believed by the poor people

  • Thank you for this interesting topic ♡
    No , I don’t
    I had brought a several books for 1000 egyptian pounds at once .
    I bought it to learn more about my religion islam

  • Hello,
    Once my daughter asked me, “Are there devices with an “apple” on the back side good?”. I said, “Yes, they are very good and very expensive”. And she said, “Ahh, that’s why we don’t have one like that!”. This really hurt me. And two years later I bought Macbook Air for $1400. It was very expensive for me. He’s certainly very good and still works well, but I wouldn’t buy it now.

  • No,I don’t have any luxury items, but I think it’s good thing to have it, because there are luxury items have a good quality and useful in our life.

    • i like luxury goods. But my income is not high, and i am trying to get much money more than to make my life better and i can take care my parrents the best way

  • I dont buy expensive or luxury things, because I dont have a lot of money. I am such as the apostol Pablo, I learn to live in the proverty how in the abundance.

  • Yes, I have, slipper, shoes, and dresses .my most expensive thing I bought it is my laptop mac book because I want it and have specials specifications that I need it.

  • I care about quality more than luxury goods. When I becoming rich in the future yes I’ll would to bought luxury goods.
    The expensive thing I bought it it’s my phone and laptop

  • Well. I am not taking luxury is a target but some times you need to buy an expensive thing to get a High quality!

  • The most expensive i bought is me high PC
    i bought him for 2000$
    i know this so overpriced but me opinion is against
    the high PC give me a lot options like run any games without any problem and the programs too

  • Hello ..

    Do you own any luxury items?
    hmm I am not interested of Luxury idea and High price product but I paid many expensive things but it worth as price equal Quality !

    What is the most expensive thing you have ever bought?
    May be my phone but I don’t Change it rarely or after 5-6 Years almost

    Why did you buy it?
    for Quality issue as I tried to buy a cheap one and I suffer a lot from it

  • the most luxury things that i buy is shoes from a high brand, and i think that one time only buy for yourself good thing it’s something good

  • Yes, I do
    The most expensive thing I have bought are shoes and phone. It’s good thing to buy to yourself something luxury, every now and then.

  • the most expensive thing I bought is my phone. I don’t want to get one with low quality. My last phone I had used for 4 years.

  • Right now i ‘ve just my phone like a luxury items.
    The most expensive thing that i have ever bought is my jewelery.i buy it to find it when i need money

  • actually I never bought any luxury items because i think its squandering of money and just to be beauty and specially. In fact i think there are a lot of things its not very expensive but its very wonderful to wear it or use it and that’s from my point of view

  • Yes! My phone.. it’s very expensive because of the high storage, My father brought it for me in my graduation from high school, also because my old phone was damaged and the buttery is breakdown

  • The most thing i bought maybe my phone i bought it around 3000 S.R it is too much money but i need this phone to work easily .

  • at this time I don’t have any luxury items , because in my believe this is not important in my life I have other priority .

  • I don’t think I have luxury things like A brand-name watch for 42000 dollars it’s expensive so I like living in a simple way

  • I have own items. i was bought items is functional foods for VND 3 million, because many people wanting protect healthy and me too

  • I don’t have any luxury items. The most expensive thing I have is my laptop. I bought it because I need it for my job.

  • a1: Really I don’t have something you can call it a luxury like sunglasses that cost 1000$ or shoes that cost 100$ etc… because I don’t see the watch or jacket etc.. that cost 100$ or more is really important If this stuff doesn’t give me really value I don’t buy it.

    a2: My computer, I guess that cost me 1200$.

    a3: So why?! Ok Ok don’t worry like I say I don’t buy anything without value, so I’m a freelancer(Motion Graphics designer), so I need a strong PC so I get it, buy the way I’m starting with my old laptop after that I’m working and bought new PC so don’t stop or give up.

    Another thing I if we say I’m working 10-14 hours every day and I’m standing all these hours like my father so buy shoes that cost even 50-100$ is not wrong because that gives me the value and, make me comfortable so that worth.

  • No I have not ..
    The most experienced thing i brought was a watch it cost me maybe 500$
    Then I need the money so I sell it. Couldn’t wear it..
    I brought it because it was a limited edition watch for superman and by a good brand of watches..
    In luxury the quality is matter not to be especiall.

  • yes , i own just expensive items but we cant say it is luxury items .i think the most expensive item i have is a running shose i bought it expensive because it came from another country and it is bought on purpose , as i had an injury in my leg and dont want to have and consequences when i run again ,

  • I have a chose is expinsev . becuse the live is the chose more from normal chose and lock like buotefol and confart .

  • Yes, I have a bag of 300 Kd from Prada brand, and this is the most expensive thing I own, and I bought it because it looks nice and cute , I’m from Kuwait and most people here bought expensive things

  • Everyone has its own lifestyle. luxury is defined by everyone.
    I buy luxury items like jewellery and use it or keep it for the purpose of the time that i would use in my lifetime . In other word, as a human being I have duty towards people who are needed to help so it keeps me not to spend money more than i need.

  • Actually, yes I have an expensive computer and ps4. I want to filling my free time by do some thing benefits so, I bought my computer but with high quality.

  • I have a watch luxury, but I didn’t buy it, I got it as a gift.
    In generally, I’m not convinced of luxury goods. it’s for pride and vanity. The most expensive thing I have ever bought it is Brand perfume. Because I wanted a constant, long-lasting smell.

  • No, I don’t have any luxury items. The most expensive thing i have ever bought is my laptop. I buy it to help me do my homework , tasks and my assignments.

  • Thank you for your information
    Yes, I bought my phone almost 800$ dollars.
    I buy it because it content a lot of advantages also i need it to help my in My life and my university.

  • I have expensive mobile phone “apple”.. I have bought it because it has a new features that other phones don’t have.

  • i am in the group of people too poor i didn´t have anything wealth. I just live with the things very need to survive. i like a lot this broadcasting. I love this program so much. thanks i have learnt a lot.

  • When I went to us last summer I went to the outlet ( it’s a market for luxury items but discounted ) I bought ( Valentino bag ) it cost me 300$ And the real price was more than 1000$, it wasn’t the most expensive thing I bought but was the only high brand or luxury brand that I have , but buying an iPhone it was the most expensive thing have ever bought it cost me 1000$ , I bought this iPhone when I was in vacation to us because my old iPhone broken so I was need a new phone, and it was worth it to spend this money because I bought it 2 years ago and still have it , so I didn’t waste my money but I actually want to be wealth someday so I can buy whatever I want from the luxury life

  • I think the brand is trike . Yes , some time the high quality need more money but not imagine form . We must act rationally and humanely.

  • I have bought a 2000 $ brand wach .Now, I reggret doing that . Money is so important in life , as it says a penny saved is a penny earned.

  • Now, I can buy and luxury items but I do not. I buy a car around 20000 dollars. Because my work it is need to car .

  • Hello
    I think that the video was very interesting, because it make reflect about the world. The world isn’t can continue thus…

  • The new car witch you bought yesterday will become an old car after a few months ….
    The same thing with watches, clothes, make up, jewels, etc …
    So you should spend your money for something more important, also for those poor people to let him live better.
    I saw a lot of brand clothes and bags witch is so popular in my country, but it’s look like horrible.
    There is some products that are less cost and more beautiful.

  • My most expensive for my own purchase was a leather chair, “Stressless chair”. That cost 3000 dollars. I usually have things around me with standard level and I am care for not to spend on wrong, be simple and good. my only wish is being stay quiet some times alone. I wanted to have the best quality when I am rest for a time. I do not need luxurious things, I hate extravagant things or conducts for ever. The most expensive item ever had is only the chair. That deserves precious time to rest.

  • I have ever bought iphone so I think it luxury with me in last times. I bought it because I liked. I think it too expensive and waste for my necessary.

  • I dont have things by luxury, I think that the thing more expensive that I have is the car, however is my work tool. Very interesant the analisis on the luxury things versus the things that needs

  • Yes, I do. The most expensive thing that I have ever bought is my Phone and laptop. I bought them because they are easy to use and thin with a lot of high features.

  • always you need to buy something luxury but not in all situation , and con you collect between the good living and the helping the needy people

  • I don’t own any luxury items and I hope I could own ít in the future. Everything I have thanks to my parents. I rely on them and at the moment I live in good conditions. I love them. The most expensive thing I have bought is my mobile computer. It’s useful for me to study English. My parents bought it for me for my study at the university. I accidentally listen to Spotlight this video. I will try to listen many times with a view to feeling it.

  • the most expensive iteam that i bought it was before 3 years, i bought a prom dress and that’s for my bestie’s birthday but after that party it came extermly narrow on my body so that’s why i’m highly regret about it cause the price could buy a new computer for me.

  • I love luxury cars, But i just look at them.
    I hope to have my collection of cars soon, But we always do not forget the needy, especially those who serve us in our homes.

    I would like to correct my spelling mistakes, I am a beginnier in the language .

  • Most people thinks luxury items every time have good quality but i don’t. My only luxury items are laptop, phone and television. I don’t think that it isn’t necessary for the other items to have good quality and most expensive. I think, quality is important for technological items not for other things. There are a lot of brands produce items which not expensive and their items better than most expensive items, i choose them all the time for dress, shoes, etc.

  • No,l don’t have any luxury items. I have not been ever bought the most expensive thing, l have been bought cheap thing. I don’t have enough money to buy luxury items but l love luxury items.

  • i have never bought luxury anything. I think I bought own a pair of shoes for 600.000 dong. My shoes’s brand is Bitis Hunter which is famous brand about shoes in VietNam. I thought a long time to buy them and then I decided to buy them. Because I need them to jog everyday. Everyday i always jog about 1500m at 5.00am so I need a good pair of shoes to jog and protect my feet. I think it is a true decision

  • Yes,
    The most expensive thing I bought is my laptop. I bought it because I use it in my education and sometimes playing video games.

  • to be honest, I don’t buy many things for myself.. but I remember I buy a T-shirt for 200 AED. when I see it I love it and I’m don’t leave the shop without buying it… I think this is the most expensive thing I buy it in my life.

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