09.21.2014
By Terry Flanagan

To Spend or Not to Spend

By Mademoiselle Wanderlust, Markets Media Life Correspondent

‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ is an idiom in many parts of the English-speaking world referring to the comparison to one’s neighbor as a benchmark for social class or the accumulation of material goods. To fail to keep up with the Joneses is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority.”

Recently, I met with a friend who stated, “Looks like you’re doing well. I can see clearly from your taste.” This really perplexed me as I wondered how easily we are portrayed by certain brands we choose to purchase or the shiny bling we adorn ourselves with. The perception seems if you don the latest Boy Bag from Chanel, an Hermes cuff, sexy stilettoes and a watch to die for (and any other non-mentioned material items), you are ‘doing well’.

This got me thinking about everyone we see daily who are dressed to a tee vs. those who are bumming it (which is certainly not a  determining factor of how well they are doing, by any means).

Especially in a city such as NY, I have come to learn that it’s simply about keeping up with the Joneses or boldly put, showing off.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am all for wanting the finer things in life (My apartment is drowning in them), who isn’t? However, at what point are people doing this to appease their inner desire for quality goods vs. trying to impress the person next to them?

In some instances, I feel, people are truly enamoured with the quality and craftsmanship that has a price tag of more than some people’s rent. Others enjoy the glitz and glamour of the brand they so choose to obtain. And some, simply feel, ‘Well she/he got this, I must keep up or surpass.”

Why, I ask? If the latter is the reason, why must one feel compelled to ‘keep up’? Is there something missing from their life they feel the need to compensate somehow? Are they insecure, as one friend pointed out? I see pictures posted on all my social media feeds of the newest Orange box, or the fastest limited edition of a Porsche or the new diamond necklace one just picked up. What are we teaching ourselves and our children? To judge people by what they possess? They must have money if they dress a certain way. Drive a certain car. Live at the hottest address in town. What exactly?

I have been exposed to this for a while and I see more and more brand recognition by even younger and younger ones. They immediately recognize a particular logo or a store they pass when simply walking down the street with their parents. I was recently in Bloomingdale’s and saw a young girl throw a tantrum because she could only have and want the Tory Burch flats her mom refused to buy.

Is this brand recognition about showing off? Is the new pair of flats the one all her classmates will recognize as the new hot footwear amongst her friends? Are they being taught to show up and show off and always go bigger and better? A cousin stated, ‘It’s Quality over Quantity’, which I could not agree with more. However, I knew from a certain age this is fact and truly appreciated the ‘good things’, especially considering I had to shell out a pretty penny for it. I understood the value of it. I cherished each item/accessory/shoe/bag/dress, etc I added to my collection as I knew I earned it and how long it took to earn it.

When will we re-connect with our own spirituality and teach our children brands don’t matter. Fee free to buy your 3-year old the
latest Gucci loafers but at the same time, make certain as they grow older, they value said leather foot decorations. All I am saying is allow the little ones to grow with a sense of appreciation for all things beautiful rather than a sense of entitlement.

Again, I’d be a hypocrite if I said I didn’t absolutely love all the wonderful things I’ve spanned the globe purchasing over the years. I am in love with my ‘things’. But that’s just it, they are just things and they are not going with me when I’m gone. It’s mind over matter so let’s learn to appreciate the true “quality” in our lives. Our loved ones, our memories, our friends, our experiences, our good deeds, our helpful hands, our laughter and above all, our ability to love, be kind and forgive.

What’s the most valuable thing in your life?

Featured image via thinglass/Dollar Photo Club

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