Do we spend more than we need, to impress people we don’t really know?
Designer duds, fancy cars, flashy apartments…we try so hard to impress.
Even if we think we’re immune, a quick check through our wardrobes may indicate otherwise.
My parents live in Vancouver, Canada. Their house is just around the corner from Canadian crooner Michael Buble’s, near a white pillared mansion with Las Vegas style palm tree pool, where an older lady spends all summer floating voluptuously on a giant flamingo like an overcooked orange aubergine.
While there, I garden, planting new roses or watching hummingbirds sing at the feeders. I wear my father’s tracksuit pants and t-shirts of my mother’s, simply because I no longer own any throwaway clothes to get dirty in.
Strange? Maybe; but true.
My pilates leggings are from Varley or Nike, and everyone else’s are from LuluLemon or Adidas. They’re not made for catching on thorns or digging up worms with, or bleaching blood stains out of because you fell into the blackberry bush at the lake, while trying to rescue a lame Canada goose.
At some point over my years in Hong Kong, all my clothes evolved into varying levels of smart casual and above. My only jeans are from Gucci and Cavalli, and even they don’t get worn much any more.
It was a strange moment when I realised that I’d evolved to fit the world that I live in. For a split second, I felt like I’d lost a little of the identity of my youth; of the headstrong young woman who didn’t care about designer labels or the rat race.
Now every time I pack for Canada, my clothes remind me that I‘ve acclimatized to my narrow environment. The ostentatious lifestyle culture in Hong Kong is an easy one to succumb to, because we’re constantly crushed into ad spaces; billboards consume our landscape and consciousness.
Admittedly, a splash of conformity is necessary to survive, as long as we keep it on the surface. It’s in our nature to rely on tribes, so following the pack is instinctive – although not always in our best interests.
In this competitive city of alpha-eagerness and fast business, designer duds are easy status symbols. From there it can snowball; nice cars, holidays, private clubs, the best schools, the best tutors / parties / extracurricular activities… there’s no limit to excess.
But are we spending money we don’t have, on things we don’t need? Or can’t really afford?
Are we in danger of becoming a cautionary tale of a family left insolvent due to overspending and financial mismanagement?
A past study showed many Hong Kong credit card holders spend 30-40% of their monthly salary recreationally on credit cards. 80% of subjects admitted continuing high spending, despite credit card debts and dreams of one day owning a home.
Are we them? Would we answer the same? Do we even know our numbers?
Today is a good day to check our priorities and sense of self.
- Have we developed any unhealthy habits to adapt to our environment?
- Could we cut back on spending in any unnecessary areas?
- Can we reassess what we think is necessary, compared to what we used to think?
- Are we saving 20-50% of our income, with wills in place and full medical insurance? If not, why not? (More articles on this soon!)
Simple questions, revealing answers.
My parents’ neighbour is a retired engineer. He has four cars parked out front and spends weekends at model airplane events with astronauts. He whistles as he potters about and regularly meets up with his childhood classmates at each others’ lake houses.
Last time I saw him, he was wearing an old T-shirt so threadbare it looked like swiss cheese, smiling contentedly up at his maple tree as dancing leaves floated down like angels.
I want to be that guy.
“Views and opinions expressed by Mrs. Money Mindset are the solely that of the author and should not be considered professional financial advice. Any action taken from this advice is strictly at your own risk. We will not be liable for any losses or damages in connection with the use of this information, or any other information posted on this website.”
Written exclusively for WELL, Magazine Asia by Mrs. Money Mindset