Body Ink: Are Tattoos Worth the Cost?

Playing off the theme of last week’s blog, “Why Do Spend Money on Intangible Things?” I present to you, dear readers, another thought: I think tattoos are a waste of money… and that’s coming from someone who has one. Just one. And not a tramp stamp, thank-you-very-much. While I am happy with my tattoo and its location — you’ll never see it unless I’m wearing a bikini or show it to you — I won’t be getting another anytime soon, if ever. My tattoo has meaning to me, and I suppose that’s all that matters, right?

Mr. Saver, the man I love and married, has EIGHT tattoos on his arms and legs. Now, he’s talking about getting another one in honor of our child-to-be, when s/he arrives early next year. While I appreciate his sentimentality, I feel it’s a waste of money. Depending on the size, complexity and time required to complete the tattoo, costs can be anywhere from $200-$700.

Of course, I think we can all agree that tattoos are a fashion statement of a sort – the permanent sort. Out of Mr. Saver’s eight tattoos, I truly only like one, of St. Michael the Archangel slaying the devil (and not for any religious reason — I just think it’s a well-done piece with vibrant color and done with skill. Many people today have tattoos, although I wonder how we’ll all look with them when we’re 70-80 years old!

For many, tattoos are art. If they’re done well, then they’re probably worth the cost to the wearer — just like any fine art, cost correlates with the quality and size of the piece, and also the expertise and renown of the artist. Expert tattooists command the highest rates, which can be by the hour or by the tattoo piece. But unlike a piece of art you buy for your home, you can’t get rid of it or sell it when it no longer interests you. In fact, it costs much more to have a tattoo removed, and takes many treatment sessions with a laser to get through all the layers of skin and lift out the ink. Even then, you’ll likely be left with scarring and a faint outline.

Considering a Tattoo? Keep These Points in Mind

Don’t go into hock for a tattoo. If you’re in debt, owe money on your credits cards or just don’t have the cash on hand, skip it. If you really want one, save up the money.

Tattoos may keep you from your dream job. If you want to get a tattoo in a place that can’t be covered with pants or sleeves (and who wants to wear long sleeves all year round?), know that many companies reserve the right not to hire you. The U.S. military’s feeling on “appropriate” locations for tattoos varies by branch, and many police departments also impose restrictions.

It’s permanent. If you someone who changes his or her mind like the wind changes directions, a tattoo might not be for you. Maybe go with body piercing, instead — at least those holes usually close up!

Think about how you will feel about it in 10, 20 or 50 years. Imagine yourself as a parent or a grandparent with the tattoo. Will you be proudly showing it off or regretting the day you got it?

13 comments to Body Ink: Are Tattoos Worth the Cost?

  • Darren

    Very few ivy league school students have tattoos. They feel the proletariat (proles as they call them) are getting tattoos and they don’t want to be seen as common working class people. So, keep in mind that getting a tattoo may be pigeon holing you into a lower class. If you make bad decisions by marking yourself up with tattoos, will a future employer think you have bad judgement?

  • Getting a tattoo is a significant decision. A tattoo is a permanent physique decoration so particular care needs to be observed to look the fitting tattoo store and tattoo artist. The present breed of tattoo artists is professional, trained and very skilled. Nonetheless, not all professional tattoo artists are good. They nonetheless want to fulfill many necessities earlier than you choose one.

  • I have no interest in spending my money on a tattoo. The permenant part scares the crap out of me. I couldn’t do it!

  • Tattoo are definitely an artistic investment. Why do people spend thousands of dollars on a single painting? Its an investment. My mother bought a Thomas Kinkade painting for about $2k, and now its worth $5k. I am not saying your tattoo will increase in value but its still an investment and not a waste of money.

  • Tell him to quit the smoking and use those weekly cigs to pay for the tattoo….win-win

  • Sorry if a comment comes up twice, browser crashed whilst submitting last time…..

    I will likely never have a tattoo unless some life changing event moves me to mark my body. I can see the draw to them though and as Red says they are better value than some other spending….

    As for the point of being old and being covered in tatts, well almost all old people of my generation will have them so it will be considered normal. Just like it’s now normal for a 65 year old to wear a tracksuit but when I was a little kid that was just odd!

    Waste of money for me but not for others. I agree it should never be done whilst in debt. One of the people who owes me cash got a massive one done and I was really pissed off…. He swears it was a gift from someone else.

  • No tattoos for me and no plans to get any. To have one it would need to be a live changing event that I needed to mark on my body…. However I am not against them as such. As Red points out compared to other frivolous spending they are pretty good value for money and no different from shelling out on an expensive dress or piece of jewelry…. Well a little different but you get my drift!

    The only reason old people covered with tattoos is odd is because it’s not normal. Our younger people will likely all be oldies with at least one tattoo so it will be normal and not looked down upon so I think the age thing is irrelevant in some ways.

    For me a waste of cash but I can sympathise with others who want them.

  • I heard this tip from a tattoo artist:
    If you really want a tattoo, get the design drawn on paper and tape it to your desk/mirror/dashboard/any place that you look at every day. Keep it there for a good few weeks. If you get sick of the design within that time, then you know not to get tattooed!

  • BF has one. A big one. He wants more. Lots more.

    (How funny, I actually touch on this in an upcoming post!) I think they’re a total waste of money. But that’s just cause, I don’t know, tattoos aren’t my kind of thing at all. Some people love em, and that’s their prerogative. I AM trying to discourage him from inking all over his arms. And as for the tattooing of the child’s name – I just KNOW he’ll want to do that. Sigh.

    Where are the Mr’s tats? Is that one of his pictured?

    • Nicole

      @eemusings — Mr. Saver’s tattoos are two on each upper arm (shoulder down to elbow area); one each on the inside of the forearms (they’re the ones I dislike most); and one on the side of each calf. And yes, the picture is of one of his.

  • I want a tattoo but am a total weenie that can’t stand pain…oh well. If I got the one I wanted, it is the cutest blue dragon holding a red rose…it means absolutely nothing to me, but I’ve been thinking about it for 3 years. 🙂

    I think that although they are “wastes” of money just like any other fun expense, they do mean a lot to a lot of people so I’m pro budgeting them in. 😉

  • Red

    Hm… I agree that tattoos are a waste of money like any other frivolous expense is. So by that argument, a vacation is a waste of money. A candy bar is a waste of money. A trip out to eat is a waste of money.

    But when comparing tattoos to the other things we buy – food, clothes, electronics – tattoos give you the biggest bang for your buck. If you get a tattoo in your 20s and never have it removed, you’re looking at fractions of a penny in cost per day, which is cheap compared to other things we buy.

    I agree with all your points, though, and I do think it’s a lifelong commitment that you should never enter into lightly. I got my tattoo on my 22nd birthday, and I love it. I’ve wanted to get another one since then (I think they’re addictive!), but I haven’t found one that means as much to me as the one I’ve got. (Also not a tramp stamp, thank you very much! haha)

    Also, on being 60 – 80 with a tattoo… Our skin is going to look like crap anyway. Might as well look like crap with a tattoo! 😉