I know there was the theory that it was the recession that made Americans in particular realise they were living beyond their means and stretching their credit to the limit. I don’t think that it’s a far-fetched theory. And doesn’t just apply to America but most of the world I would think.
Even today, right here, everyone wants to own a house. Not an apartment. But a 3 or 4 or 5 bedroom house with a backyard. Can they afford it? Well, the banks are always willing to own you so yes, they will give you a loan for about 500,000 to a million. So while you may not be able to afford it, you might still go ahead and take the loan. Then you have the cars. If you are image-conscious, a Holden Barina or Toyota Yaris are not the answer. No. You need a BMW or a Merc or a Peugot. And of course, every family needs a monstrosity of a 4WD to fit the kids in. Once again, the image-conscious need to be seen at the most trendy restaurants and bars. You can’t just go to the cheap Indian take-away. You have to go to a place where the food costs at least $20. And the wine you drink has to be expensive. The clothes you wear have to be a designer brand. Jag, Portmans, Gucci, Jacqui E, Marc anthony. You wouldn’t be caught dead in Target. And finally, the holidays. Because work is so stressful, you just have to go overseas for holidays. Australia is not good enough. It has to be Bali or Fiji or Hawaii or Europe.
I have never understood the need for living up to an image. When I was younger, I remember my uncle owning these big cars while my parents on the other hand have always had a small one. When I asked my uncle the need for such a car his answer was along the lines of how it was important to have a certain image when you went to the equivalent of a country club and had the valet park your car. I love my uncle. But I completely disagreed with him. And I still do.
I’ve never had a valet park my car. Maybe because I’ve never gone to a place that has a valet. I don’t buy designer clothes. Mine are from Target when on sale. Or from other stores when on sale. Expensive foods are out. I live in an apartment and I’m perfectly content to bring up my kids in one in the future. My car is a used car — a 2001 model. As for holidays, I go somewhere not so expensive when I can afford it. I do not earn that much so I don’t understand the need to live beyond my means. I prefer saving.
I am no saint. I do have a credit card and I am guilty of the occasional impulse buy on it. But you won’t see my buying stuff to have an image of success or an image of being rich. I am not rich. So why should I try and be something I’m not? That doesn’t mean I dress like a slob or anything. I know I will need a home loan to buy a house but that doesn’t mean I am going to buy a mansion. Because put simply, I can’t afford one. I could afford to pay off an apartment though.
What is it that makes us live beyond our means? Is it just narcissism? The need to want to look better than others or keep up with the Joneses. Or do we think we deserve to have it all because we work hard? I understand with the ease of having things like credit cards and interest free periods to purchase goods and have loans, we are able to succumb to any of the above a lot more easily but what makes some of us more prone to it than others?
In the movie, after Ben Affleck’s character loses his job, he still wants to keep his successful image and continue playing golf at the country club and dress in desginer clothes and keep his Prosche. But he is unwilling to take the only job available in tough economic times which offers him half his pervious salary.
And the thing is, there are probably people like that. Who think they deserve better and deserve to be living a rich lifestyle.
Even when they can’t afford to.
Do you live beyond your means? If so, does it scare you?
Do share your thoughts…
Until next time,