Recently, New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote an op-ed piece about the "Haimish Line." The Haimish Line is an invisible line sometimes crossed when you go from spending less to spending more -- in doing so, Brooks contends, you often sacrifice warmth and connection to attain luxury and space. According to Brooks, "haimish" is a Yiddish word that suggests "warmth, domesticity and unpretentious conviviality."
An exclusive, white-tablecloth, four-star restaurant where servers disappear and diners are on their Blackberries would be north of the Haimish Line. A small, casual diner on the corner bustling with loud conversations from neighborhood folks talking over each other would be south of the Haimish Line. A new dorm building with a shiny, new, unused lounge would be north of the Haimish Line; the well-worn lounge of ratty furniture that students veer toward would be staunchly planted south of the Haimish Line. The Haimish Line even slices across neighborhoods: densely packed urban neighborhoods where kids run home from school and and people have stoop conversations versus spread-out suburbs of isolated living in separate homes and cars.
Brooks advises that we learn to spend our money well and stay south of the Haimish Line.
I found this essay so compelling because money often buys privacy, space, exclusivity and "luxury" -- all of which are the very opposite of "unpretentious conviviality." In America, the picture of success is a bigger house (where the family is more spread out), moving to the suburbs (with more distance between neighbors), a nicer car (to be more vigilant about spills in), and flying first class (ok, so some things are not worth getting all concerned about "the Haimish Line" over).
Seriously, though, there is something to be said for not unwittingly losing the warmth of "haimish" in our lives as we grow in our financial prosperity. Here are a few ways to spend your money well and stay south of the Haimish Line:
Haimish living isn't about glorifying modest living or not enjoying the fruits of your labor. It's simply the idea that money should be well spent, to bring more satisfaction, fulfillment and warmth into our lives. Spending south of the Haimish Line is one sure way to do so.
A version of this post originally appeared on LearnVest.