Welcome to the final week in my series on labels! Perhaps you are wondering what financial status can have to do with labels.
I would argue, a lot.
Its expensive to be rich
I’m not a financial adviser or a money person in any regard. But I do know that how we define ourselves makes a huge difference on our financial status and our buying decisions.
I have already shared the story of my spending habits in law school and into working as a lawyer. I used name brands as a way to bolster my lack of self esteem. This naturally was a major drain on my finances, as name brands do not come cheap, even when purchased second hand.
As I entered further and further into that world of ‘image’ and ‘wealth’, more and more things became non-negotiable. Where once getting a 40$ haircut was sufficient, now I had to go to the same salon as all the other lawyers. Where once using drug store brands was great, now I had to wear Chanel eyeliner and buy $70 face cream. Where once shaving my legs was sufficient, now I had to pay 120$ for waxing.
All of these things slowly became ‘essentials.’ My acceptance into a particular ‘class’ of persons required that I meet the standards they set. I never thought twice about it.
Learning the essentials
After I returned to Vancouver, and then Kamloops, I had significantly fewer resources. Every month, I found my financial status more and more strapped. I didn’t understand what was going on. I was only spending money on essentials!
I started using an app to track my expenses to get a hold on where all my money was going. Primarily? Liquor, eating out, shopping and ‘personal care’. I was spending massive amounts of money to preserve the appearances set by my ‘rich rules’.
In fact, I maintained them for years. You know why? I had deemed them essential to ‘who I was’. I had labelled myself as ‘sophisticated’ and ‘distinguished’. To meet these labels I couldn’t be wearing 12$ makeup or a $10 tee-shirt.
As I grew further and further away from the ‘wealthy’ mindset, I slowly dropped these ‘necessary expenses’. None of them were necessary. I had told myself they were required as a way to justify the expense. In reality, not a single item actually made any difference.
I went from a $100 a month cleansing routine to using a cloth and almond oil that costs 25$ and lasts 6 months. I went from $45 eyeliner to my entire makeup cost being 45$. None of it was essential to my body or my wellbeing. It was only essential to my label.
Consider the cost of your financial label
Do you make financial decisions based on how you see yourself financially? Do you think ‘rich’ people do, and own, and buy certain things, and that such things are necessary for you to be ‘rich’?
When we look at it like this, it is absurd.
It is ironic, because in working in law, so many of my colleagues were living pay cheque to pay cheque. In Kamloops, the best way to find a person with lots of cash is to look for an old truck and a pair of Costco jeans.
So often we are more invested in what we appear to be, than in what we actually are.
We are label chasing. We want to look the part, rather than worrying about actually being the part. You are not excluded from a financial class because you don’t wax your legs.
Curate what you love
Many of you will be saying ‘sure, but appearances to matter’. Sure they do. But my comment from above still stands.
It you are a professional, yes you need to dress professionally. But you can buy items based on who you are and the needs of your work – not on label chasing. In shedding my need to look ‘rich’, I started investigating what I actually liked and valued. I began looking for things that met a standard that I set, not that was forced on me.
Where previously I bought items primarily for the label, now I buy things based on longevity and practicality. I look for brands that do repairs or have less of an environmental impact. I have fewer and plainer items. I buy natural and simple beauty products. I get my hair cut once every six months. I keep my nails short and never paint them.
I reflect who I am. Not a label. I honestly have no idea if I look rich or poor. But at least I look like me.