Many years ago, when my wife and I began seeing success, we looked at buying a new larger home. We looked in glitzy neighborhoods, and came across a home we really loved, but was more costly than even I imagined. The home was beautiful, and it would have been a great place to raise our kids.
As we imagined ourselves in the home, and were recalculating our budgets, my stomach began turning and was feeling more and more uncomfortable. I was beginning to stress. The monthly expenses would have been significantly higher than we were paying at the time for our existing home.
Each time we went over the budget numbers, I found myself rationalizing the cost. I would say, “It’s a nicer neighborhood, and the home prices will appreciate more”. Or, “With the higher mortgage payment, our tax write off will be greater”.
Then, a night or two prior to when we were going to pull the trigger on the purchase contract, I went to sleep and I had a dream. In the dream, my wife and I were in the new home, really enjoying it. I went upstairs and the doorbell rang, and she answered the door. It was a family member, and soon after another stopped by. As the dream continued, I walked around the corner from the upstairs balcony, and I could see and hear our family guests saying the home was wonderful. I could also see a hint of jealousy on one of their faces, as they began talking about someone else they knew who had an even nicer home. I felt somehow vindicated, and happy to have finally “made it”.
Suddenly, I awoke and sat straight up. It dawned on me that I was about ready to make one of the largest purchases of my life, a purchase that was making me feel very uncomfortable, for completely the wrong reasons! I would have made that purchase so I could cause jealousy in family members, somehow attempting to prove my worth to them or others in this world, and gain some sort of satisfaction from all this! I thought to myself, “Wow! I nearly spent years of savings and mortgaged much of my future, for the purpose of invoking 5 minutes of jealousy in someone else!” I wasn’t seeing myself being really any happier in this home, but was rather envisioning the reaction of others.
I told my wife about the dream, and she mentioned she was having similar reservations, but didn’t want to discourage me. We then understood that purchasing that home was the wrong move for us, and did not do it. A few years later, the real estate crisis hit, and homes plummeted in value. So in hindsight, the decision to not purchase was even better!
Do you make purchases solely to satisfy your own needs? Or are you purchasing “stuff” for the sake of impressing others? Most overspending happens because we are trying to fill some emotional need, a need that will never be filled by the overspending. So it’s money wasted!
It is much better to live a very simple lifestyle, well within our budgets, than to tax our future for an emotional fix. Or, to paraphrase a Biblical proverb, “It’s better to appear poor and have great wealth, than to appear wealthy and be very poor.”
Wise people do not think lessor of you because of what you own. Instead, they look at who you are. And why should you care what fools might think?