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?!?