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I couldn't pick a Hermes Birkin out of a lineup even if you threatened to spoil Game of Thrones for me.

Status Symbols Are Pointless and Dumb

You guys. I just learned about a thing so utterly ridiculous it defies belief: investment purses.

What is this mysterious and logic-defying item? Well, according to the Interwebz, it’s a grossly overpriced handbag that gets to be grossly overpriced because a famous designer’s name is plastered all over it. And it’s called an “investment purse” because you buy it with all the money you’re not investing in your future financial well-being. I’m assuming. Because what else could possibly be the explanation?

An investment purse, as it is so loftily known, is similar to a luxury car or a gold-plated Rolex watch. In other words: it’s a status symbol, a way of keeping up with the Joneses.

And status symbols, my beautiful, badass, budgeting butterflies, are fucking dumb as shit.

The illusion of status symbols

Here’s the thing about a fancy purse or an expensive, impractical car: they can be bought on credit. Which means you neither own them nor can you actually afford them. That’s right: you’re borrowing money to make yourself look rich. The status you’re symbolizing is entirely an illusion.

Which brings us to The Millionaire Next Door. A great way to actually be wealthy and successful rather than pretending you are with your goddamn investment purse is to avoid wasting money on status symbols. The concept behind The Millionaire Next Door is that a lot of really wealthy, financially secure people don’t flaunt that wealth in any way. They’ve got stealth wealth. You’d never know that your neighbor who drives a ten-year-old Subaru and mows his lawn himself is actually a multi-millionaire because he doesn’t bother spending his millions on useless status symbols. And that’s half the reason why he’s so rich.

So if you don’t actually have to be rich to purchase status symbols, and those who are super rich don’t necessarily buy those status symbols… then why bother?

No one fucking cares

Look, let’s just say it how it is: the kind of self-aggrandizing that is the real purpose of status symbols is a pathetic financial dick measuring contest. If you’re secure in the size of your, er—bank account, then you don’t need to wave it in the faces of your friends and neighbors.

The only people who care about status symbols are those who prioritize buying them. It is, in effect, a circle jerk of debt and questionable financial decisions.

I couldn’t pick a real Hermès Birkin out of a lineup even if you threatened to spoil Game of Thrones for me. I buy my purses at Target, and I choose them based on overall cuteness and their ability to carry both my Kindle and my sunglasses at the same time without either getting squished.

Perhaps there’s a woman out there looking down on me for my $24 Target purse. But if she is, then I haven’t noticed because I’m too busy enjoying the fact that my student loans are paid off and I’m legitimately struggling to decide what to do with all that extra money I now have every month.

Those who do care have bigger problems

I worry about the kind of people who buy status symbols like loud, fast cars—you know, penis surrogates. Because if you’re spending $80k to tell the world as you zoom by that you are a) flush with cash, and b) hung like a rhinoceros, then what aren’t you spending your money on?

 

Are you prioritizing a fancy watch over contributing to your 401k? Are you sacrificing your retirement fund or being debt free so that you can afford a Noguchi coffee table? Because if so, please get help. Those diamonds might look sparkly now, but you definitely won’t be able to eat them when you’re retired.

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7 thoughts to “Status Symbols Are Pointless and Dumb”

  1. Bless. And honestly, I find most “luxury” brand items to be tacky as fuck and ugly as shit. I’d rather buy a cute purse at target that’s got 20x the cute factor and is practical than some trashy all velvet Louis Vuitton track suit studded with gold plated rhinoceros shit (seriously, I thought track suits went out of style decades ago).

  2. FIRST OF ALL, YOUR BLOG IS A GOLDMINE
    Second, that post spoke to me, because I’m the “wealthy” kid of my friend group and yet I always look like, well, the less wealthy one. I’m careful with what I buy, I try not to spend too often, I wear sweatpants and hoodies or the same four pairs of jeans, I have like, 5 pair of shoes maximum for the whole year and haven’t changed them in years, the only jewelry I wear is discreet and was a present from my roommate, I don’t wear and buy makeup, I’ve had the same backpack as my school bag for three years, I almost never go to the restaurant and eat instant ramens on campus.
    The only luxury brand items I own have been bought for quality, so that they will last a while. I mean, I’m lucky and privileged to come from a wealthy family, so I don’t have to worry about money, and I’ve had the chance to travel abroad often, but it took me a while to realize my family was counted as rich, because we just never buy luxury stuff, and we basically live like anyone else. Status symbols have always been pointless and unnecessary to me, it’s just beyond my mind how anyone can spend so much on something so… useless.
    Like, if you have so much spare money why not… donate it to charity? Help out friends who aren’t as well-off? Save for retirement, or for your children’s studies? Do something useful with it, for yourself or for others?
    One day, when I pointed out to my dad, laughingly, that we never bought luxury stuff, he just shrugged and said: “yeah, maybe we could, but what’s the use? We just don’t need it.”
    So, thanks for this post. Status symbols are truly, truly dumb.

  3. This really struck a chord with me. I’m 33, divorced, with 3 kids, making less than $30k a year. I pretty much never have extra money to flaunt, even if I wanted to. I wanted to cry when I bought a new(er) car 2 years ago, cuz I’d had my previous car for 11 years and hadn’t had a car payment in roughly 9 years.

    My older brother, on the other hand, is a bachelor with no kids, with a much better-paying job (idk exactly how much, never asked). He always has the latest Apple products (watch, phone, laptop, etc), and gets a new car every few years, most recently a Tesla Model 3 last year. The laptop I can understand updating often, since his job revolves around video editing.

    What struck me is that I’ve always measured my “success” by comparing myself financially to him. But over Christmas? I was shocked when he admitted that he owed over $10k on his credit cards, while my debt at the time was slightly less than half of that. (I’m using a portion of my tax returns to pay off my cards, so I won’t have to deal with those bills anymore.)

    So the lesson? Just because you THINK someone is doing better than you in financial matters, doesn’t mean that they ARE.

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