Image matters to all of us, to some degree. If anybody says that they genuinely don’t care about what other people think about them, on any dimension for any reason – I won’t believe it. We all care a little bit about what others think about us, at least for some things.
For each of us, that could mean different things. Some people want to appear better looking than others. Others want to be seen as funnier. Some want to be seen as nicer, or of better character. To a lot of people, being more “well traveled” is something they really want to be know for. Yet others really want to appear more financially successful.
That latter group is one which I’ve tried to distance myself from. Not in the sense of disassociating with such people, because that’s not the case. Just because someone is competitive in that way, it doesn’t mean that they are bad people in any way.
Rather, what I mean is that I’ve tried to become less and less like that.
For one thing, there are some people I know who have truly become very successful financially, and now have more means than me. Trying to worry about keeping up with them would just get me to spend more money that I should. If I spend that money, then I’d be keeping up appearances and would be even. However, I’d be paying the financial price for it. These people aren’t overly materialistic anyway.
There are also folks who simply don’t have the means to buy some things they do, but they buy them anyway. These people, in contrast to those who I mentioned above, are materialistic. They desperately want to appear successful, and will spend their money to keep up an image. They are always mentioning new things they bought, and you can see their desire to feel important just dripping from their mouths as they speak. It doesn’t make sense to spend money to “compete” with such people.
To me, what’s most important is living within my means, having a chance to retire someday, and maybe achieve a financial freedom goal - at least to some degree.
Along those lines, I don’t think it matters too much how other people perceive us financially. If someone thinks you’re moderately successful but not have not achieved great success, is that a problem? Not for me.
I’d rather fly under the radar
Readers, how much does it matter to you how successful others think you are? Do you ever get motivated to buy things to keep up with others (and thus keep appearances), or would you rather deliberately stay low key?