What are you really paying for when you spend $1000 on a stroller?
It’s not out of necessity. You can buy a highly rated infant travel system for less than $200. My son’s preschool charges about $800 for a year. Granted, it’s only part time, and it’s the least expensive preschool around, but it’s nowhere close to $30,000. And a very usable pair of jeans costs less than $50. In fact, I rarely pay more than $25.
So if people aren’t paying outrageous sums of money for the use of a product, what are they paying for? It all comes down to one thing.
Everything is about “the best” in the United States today. We must have the best education, the best house on the block, the best car, the best clothes. We train our kids to be the best soccer players from an early age. We pay children to get the best grades.
People are paying thousands of dollars to be “The Best”. But if the title of best can be bought, is it really the best? If status can be purchased with a dollar amount, anyone who comes into money can have status. It doesn’t matter how they got it. A person can buy a $1000 stroller with money that they worked hard for, inherited, or even stole. What does that say about status? Basically, it’s worthless.
And what happens when your status symbol is gone? What if you wreck your Hummer and can’t afford a new one? Are you less worthy? What if your business partner gets involved in some illegal activity, and you lose everything? Are you less of a person? If you get fired from your job, are you worthless as a member of society?
Placing your worth in things, in looks, in status symbols is a dangerous game. Any of those things can be gone in an instant. Not to be depressing, but things can get stolen or ruined. Your face can become disfigured in a car accident. Your status can disappear with the winds of change in what society sees as important.
It’s better to place your value in things that don’t change. Your values. Your integrity. What you stand for. It’s no secret that I’m a Christian and place my worth in being a child of God. But even if you’re not a Christian, place your status in something more worthwhile than a thing that can be bought.
If you determine your value by something intrinsic, it can’t be taken from you. I know that my faith won’t go away, regardless of my financial situation, regardless of how I look, and regardless of what others may think of me. It will be with me, unless I let it go. It’s up to me. And even then, God will never stop loving me.
Furthermore, placing my value in something intrinsic is easier on my budget. I don’t feel the need to keep up with the Jonses to prove that I’m worthy. I won’t be buying $10,000 jeans to prove there’s nobody else like me. I already know it.
Where do you place your value? Have you ever been tempted to buy things you can’t afford to make yourself look better in the eyes of others? Please share in the comments. And there will be no judgment from me. I’ve done it before too. :)
Update: Shana, one of my regular readers, wrote a very good rebuttal piece to this post. You should read it. It makes you think!
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I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
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