2008-03-11

Materialism is Killing Me


I live in Dallas, and it is all about status here. I know people who wear Dolce and Gabana but live in poverty. I at one time worked with a women who became my friend, who made a great deal of money (she was a manger), but literally lived paycheck to paycheck. She at times borrowed money from me, and I made less than her, and she even a few times had to call me to come get her because she ran out of gas, and she had no money in her bank account or on her credit cards to purchase gas, so I would have to give her $20 just so she could make it home or to work or where ever she was going. She as constantly bouncing checks. She bounced checks so often, her electric company demanded she paid her bills by wire transfer at the check cashing place. They would no longer accept checks from her. She and her husband had a horrible time trying to get a home due to their credit. This same woman wore nothing less than Ann Taylor, and walked around showing off her $300 purses, and eventually she traded in her Nissan Xterra she bought used for a brand new Infiniti FX45. There was nothing wrong with her Xterra, she just wanted the status of having an Infiniti. Her hsubnd is driving a BMW. Her child went to private school, they had a beautiful home, but they had no money and were constantly struggling Then she would have to audacity to ask me why I didn't shop at Ann Taylor and Banana Republic, but rather Old Navy. She also asked why we didn't get a bigger house, because she knew we could afford it. We are two people and live in a four bedroom, two bath house, I don't need a much bigger home than that.

I know a ton of people like this. They have to wear the right clothes, be at the right clubs and restaurants, drive the right car, and have the best house or loft or apartment in the right area. They have max out their credit cards, leased their car, and barely make ends meet in the place they live. It is kind of a facade. This is actually quite common here in Dallas. We even have a name for people like this, they are $30K Millionaires

I am cheap as hell. Until I met my husband, my favorite hobby was shopping at thrift stores and finding stuff no one else would have. It embarrassed my husband, so we stopped. I steady shop at Payless for shoes, I just BOGO'd last week. My only stickler for name brand are my Converse, which I get at the outlet. I own over 20 pair so I have to be that way with my converse. I also own a couple of pair of Adidas, and two good pairs of heels so I am not in agony when I walk in them. I am not really big on appearance in terms of what brand are you wearing and what is in style. I am a complete dork wad. If I have a name brand it is because I got it at TJ Maxx or Ross and it was a coincidence I got it. Hell sometimes I am shopping at Rave aka broke strippers warehouse because I know I can get an outfit for $20. I wear jeans and t-shirts everywhere outside of work, I pass off chinos as business casual, and I get pissed when I have to spend money on work clothes. I go drinking at the same bars I did ten years ago. Me and my friend usually order beers, me Shiner Bock, her Stella, and we play dominos. My wedding ring by my choice came out of the Spiegal Catalog. My husband was making maybe at that time $30K a year, I wasn't expecting a $20K ring.

I think my lack of concern with status or name brands come from my mother, she embarrassed me non stop in middle school, she shopped constantly at the freaking Dollar Store for everything, clothes included. She made me not have shame, and reminded me that nothing is wrong with living on a budget. We didn't have to shop at the Dollar Store, and I got to wear name brand stuff, but it was mixed in with Wal Mart stuff as well. I refer to my SUV as Infiniti's broke ass cousin, Nissan.

I was raised in a middle to upper middle class environment. I went to school with people who got a porsche or BMW or Mercedes for their 1st car. I was rocking a Toyota Camry, but I knew people who had those cars as their first car. I couldn't compete with a Porsche and sometimes I am very grateful of the type of people I hung around in high school. We wore Dickies with flannel and we wore old crappy Doc Martens or Converse. We were so into going against the grain of mainstream (even though we dressed all alike like cult members), by high school I was over name brands.

I know sometimes I succumb to keeping up with the Joneses, but honestly I kills me that people do this, and now it seems it is the status quo. P. Diddy, Jay Z, and their ilk ruined hip hip for me with their obsession with their Bling Bling and Cristal lifestyles. I had to look hard for music that didn't pander to this mindset.I'm still trying to figure out why people give a damn about Paris Hilton. I don't get random celebrity.

I think people over time have gotten more materialistic. My question is why? Why are we obsessed with status, and why does it seem to get worse and worse as time goes on? I feel sometimes I am a failure because I didn't go get the biggest house possible, and I have opted recently in my career, due to a new years resolution to go for what I feel will make me happy and improve things in the world vs. money and title. I am about looking good and being vain. I am very vain. I am not saying look crappy, but does the label make everything better?

Incidentally the richest people I know, they are millionaires, my husband's grandparents shop at thrift stores like no one's business and love the Dollar Store, and they are of the few I know who don't really need to compromise financially on anything.