As I look back upon this year, I realize that the majority of the criticism that I’ve received concerns how I choose to spend (or not spend) my money.
Among the things I’ve been told:
- I should rent or buy a bigger home.
- While I’m here, I should spend money painting and decorating my current home, despite the fact that I neither own this place nor intend to live here forever.
- I should purchase more clothes, despite the fact that I have more than enough.
- I should definitely go to college, but I should go to a more expensive school in order to acquire a “better” education–to earn more money.
- I really “need” a car, despite the fact that I don’t go anywhere.
- I “need” a high-paying job.
- I need to invest in a modern, high-end computer since I love them so much.
- I need to buy (insert item here).
These criticisms are usually framed in a back-handed way in an attempt to mask the criticism:
“I admire how you want to live a simple life, but you really do need to get a bigger place. It’s ridiculous that you sleep in the living room.”
“I understand that you want to save money, but would a bucket of paint kill you?”
According to the people I interact with, I “need” to acquire a larger home so that I can have my own bedroom. I “need” a traditional cook stove and a standard-sized refrigerator. I “need” to toss my perfectly serviceable kitchen table and replace it with new. I “need” dentures, new clothes, matching dishes and many other items.
When I ask why I “need” these things, I’m informed that I’m depriving myself or given long-winded speeches that are hard to decipher.
Why is this? Because I’m definitely not depriving myself. I’m content exactly where I am.
Is it because my life is so different from others that I receive this criticism?
Is it because they believe that I am secretly judging them?
I don’t have any answers to these questions but when combined, it makes me wonder if it is socially unacceptable to avoid spending money to keep up a certain appearance in our society. It makes me wonder if we’re programmed to own certain things, to spend our money in a certain manner not because we care about the items in question, but just to fit in.
I asked a friend about it once over this past year. She informed me that we need to own a certain amount of stuff, of a certain quality because it tells the world that we are doing “okay.”
Why do we care what the world thinks?
More importantly, who gets to decide what we buy or don’t buy?
Could this be why so many people are struggling in our society? Could it be that we are programmed by social pressure to own things that are meaningless in the grand scheme of things to the point where we jeopardize our financial security just to acquire them?
As we conclude this decade, I would like for you to ponder this situation. Have you ever felt pressured to acquire something or live a certain way, to spend money that you wouldn’t ordinarily spend?
If you removed the social pressure, how would you live? What would you spend your money on? What would you stop spending money on?
In short, why do you buy the things that you do? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.