One of the biggest reasons people overspend is because they worry what other people think about the possessions a person may or may not have as well as the perceived quality of what a person does own. Or maybe they simply believe they are a better person if they have nicer things. Many people believe their value as a person is measured by what car they drive, the size of their home or the name on the tag of their clothing. Unfortunately, that perception will do nothing for you but make you broke.
My son was giving my wife and I the details of his high school graduation, and mentioned that they were told to wear a white collared shirt under their robe. I remembered we had purchased him a white collared shirt from Costco for playing on the high school golf team the previous year. Since my son only wears collared shirts when absolutely necessary, I figured using the shirt for this purpose would be perfect. No need to buy a new shirt that will likely be worn exactly once.
“I’m going with my friends to the mall to buy a new shirt,” my son said.
“Why not just wear the shirt you have?” I asked.
“I’m not going to wear a Cotsco shirt for graduation.” he stated.
Later that afternoon, my son went to the mall and spent $30 on a new shirt because he perceived his peers would think less of him, or he would think less of himself if he wore a shirt from Costco as opposed to the one he bought from a popular store at the mall.
While I can understand his want to have something special for his special day, I wanted him to think about this behavior overall. I wanted him to understand that as an adult, he will need to learn a few lessons to get the most value from his money:
People Don’t Notice
As a high school student, you are very aware of the clothes you wear, the brand of food you eat, and much more. You perceive it can effect how you are accepted by your peers. As a teenager this may even have some truth to it. I remember a high school friend of mine looking funny at the can of generic soda I once gave him. As an adult, nobody goes around asking what brand clothes others are wearing, or where they shop. Nobody checks the tags on your clothes or the brand of food that is in your pantry.
People Don’t Care
Adults are far too busy with their own responsibilities to care what brand clothes you wear, what kind of car you drive, or how big your house is. Very few adults will like you more if you wear designer clothes, have an expensive car, or live in a big house. If you have those kind of people in your life, you may want to re-evaluate your relationship with them.
It’s Your Money
In the end, it’s your money and you should spend it how you wish. While you may think impressing your coworkers and friends in the short term will bring you happiness, it will do nothing for you when retirement rolls around and you don’t know how you’re going to support yourself during your golden years.
In our society, your economic status is usually equated to how successful and happy you are. What needs to be remembered is that other people don’t determine your happiness, you do. Instead of spending your money trying to convince your friends and coworkers you’re happy, spend your time and energy on actually making yourself happy.
How about you, EOD Nation, were you concerned about brand names when you were younger? How about now?