Is Your Wallet Bursting With Pride?

Bursting open that is.

Picture the scene: Hubsy and I  sauntering nonchalantly through town sipping on our almond milk lattes from the most hip on-trend barista bar in town, basking in two hours alone from our little monsters darlings. Pretending to be young fashionable things.

We weave through the evening shopping hordes, stopping at this window and that; I’d like that handbag –  the ‘PR’ girl in the elevator at the office had something similar. I couldn’t pry my eyes-under-downcast-lashes off until the sixty-sixth floor. It doesn’t do to show someone you like their stuff, next thing you know they’ve taken ‘Kind Regards’ off their email signature and it’s just a short and superior ‘Madalina’. Meanwhile Hubsy is eyeing up an SUV in steel grey that’s driving past – the leather looks soft enough to wrap a newborn in, the engine roar is gorgeous…and it would definitely make the neighbors’ eyes pop.

Ok, so this scene is not true. Or at least not all of it. We were basking in a couple of child free hours.

I was recently telling my friend how I would like to get a new-to-me used car as we could really use a second car. Our current workhorse of a machine is unpretentious and twelve years old. I just don’t see the point of upgrading while we’re in the years when the floor contains every substance known to toddler mushed up on the floor despite valet after valet. It brings us from A to B. The trunk is big enough for the stroller. What more do you want?

This is how the conversation went with said friend:

Yeah we could really use a new car, I need to be able to take the kids out in the summer while Hubsy is at work.

Oh great! What do you think you might get?

Just something small, then I can take the family car for days out with the kids, and Hubsy can use the small car for the commute. I’m caught between spending a lot on something newer or keeping my savings and getting something older. 

Yeah but at least something newer will have less repair costs. 

True but by newer I mean like a 2003 or 2004 model anyway

(Friend’s voice faltering to condescending and a critical crooked smile on her face):

Wouldn’t you want something newer than that? Like they’re pretty rough looking those old cars. Even your current car is very old, I mean, do you really want to be driving round in a 2005 model much longer (she knows we bought that car six months ago).

Her voice is dripping  slow gloopy transparent ooze from her cracked egg mouth.

Instantly, I know what this is all about. She’s getting married soon into a moderately wealthy family. I’m her best friend. She doesn’t want me embarrassing her by rocking up on her lavish day in my crusty old car.


Well as much as my vanity is a little dented by her comments, I realized one thing. Sometimes we fall into the trap of subconsciously or consciously believing that the respect or lack thereof shown to us comes from others’ judgement of our financial status. Our financial status is most commonly judged from our outwardly appearance including our possessions and our address. If I were weaker than I am, I might be tempted to shell out for that steel grey SUV and join the yummy-mummy, cashmere wearing, trendy jeans crowd. I was a sucker for peer pressure in my youth.

So herein lies the crux of the matter: Our sense of pride costs us money. 

It’s so bloody obvious and yet it’s not something we ever account for in our household budgets. A ‘Keeping Up With The Jones’s’ cost is not something on my Excel sheet. No, it sneaks its way in at the point of sale undermining your self esteem, walloping your rational mind with the doubt of pubescent teen. You just won’t seem as cool with the cheaper one.

Cheaper does not necessarily mean cheap. It means less than the one we know we don’t really need or can’t really afford to buy. We all like a splurge now and then. A treat. If feels good because it boosts our pride. It may be beautiful, rare, unique etc. But ultimately we are spending to boost our pride, and by proxy our perceived social standing.

As the old adage goes – we spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like.

If we are regularly spending more than we can really afford to (and by afford I mean with cash not credit) then we have to sit back and ask ourselves: How much money is my pride going to cost me? How many soul crushing hours do I have to work for my pride to be satisfied? Is it really worth it? Who am I trying to impress? And more importantly – why am I trying to impress?!?





Color – By – Numbers

Remember those color-by-numbers books we used to play with as children? I used to spend a lot of time with those and the dot-to-dot picture books.  I’ve always been a ‘love clear instructions’ kind of person. Receiving  and especially giving. Just ask my hubsy 😉

The thing with the color-by-numbers is that the picture is already formed and visible. You don’t actually need to color it in to see the picture. Sure you have to focus a little longer to separate the important bits from the background but it’s so easy a child can do it. And yet it’s only when its colored that we class it as complete. We happily follow a set of provided instructions on what color to add into each pre-made section based on a number/color combination.

This is exactly what I see people doing to each other every day. It’s what I myself do every day. But it’s wrong.

How old is your child?

How much does he weigh?

How long does he sleep?

What size does he wear?

How old are you?

How much do you(or your husband) earn?

How long have you been married?

How long are you in your job?

What did you pay for your house?

How much weight have you lost?

How much did those jeans cost?

You think you know me because of my set of numbers? You think you know my child? We slot those answers into an overall pre-made picture, based on our initial impression.

How about  – what hobbies do you like? Does your child like art or music? What are your dreams? What keeps you awake at night? What are your beliefs?

We don’t need the numbers to get the picture, we just need to focus a bit harder on what’s staring us straight in the face.

That’s what makes color-by-numbers different and more enjoyable than a standard coloring book. There’s a set of instructions, and how we love to follow them. Conversations are the social color-by-numbers.

The art of conversation seems to have gone out the window. Conversations have become shallow trading of number-based-facts like those kids’ card trading games where each character’s number represents a power.

Sometimes I see a lonely looking stranger and I want to ask ‘what is your story?’. People find it cathartic to get things off their chest. These days we’re all afraid to ask the right questions as it’s uncomfortable. There’s no map for that conversation.  So we leave the person be, we leave them in their loneliness. It’s too uncomfortable because it strays from the narrative we’re used to telling and reading.  Social media has trained us against sharing anything deeply meaningful as we try to limit ourselves to 140 characters. Brevity is, depth is self-indulgent; make the long story short will you?

There have been times in my life when I was young where I felt like the loneliest person in the world despite living in a capital city. I suffered a lot from depression.

If anyone had asked me ‘Are you ok?’ while sitting on a park bench I would have answered ‘Yeah thanks, fine’ as I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to feel burdened. I would have thought – and still do react this way today – that it’s too uncomfortable for the other person if I say ‘No I’m not ok’. It’s not shame; it’s simply not wanting to push someone else into that uncomfortable tangent off the standard narrative we are all so used to.

But if someone had followed up with ‘it’s ok to share if you want to, I’m happy to listen if you want to talk’ then maybe I would have swallowed hard and taken a few courageous steps to talk.

It’s my belief that mental health problems are so huge around the world today because we are all unused to sharing more than we should. Which is a paradox since social media has us sharing more than ever. Let’s stop yapping on social media and start talking to the person on your street that looks sad. Or just have an actual meaningful conversation with your neighbor.

What’s the worst that can happen?

If you misjudged the situation and I’m fine, I’m going to respect you for asking. Maybe that’s just me.