, ,

It seems there is always a cry about how foolish people are to want more and better stuff. It has been discovered by careful research that beyond having one’s basic needs well covered there isn’t any increase in overall happiness in having more stuff. However, there is a twist in this, because that finding only applies in a closed community where everyone has approximately the same stuff. People do compare their relative status in a community based on how much stuff they have and how nice it looks. People become unhappy when they see others, whom they dislike on some level, with more and better stuff. People need a community to thrive within and they need a position within that community which gives them some status. If they don’t have some social status they don’t feel good about themselves. Since most people are ordinary or less than ordinary, it means that most people feel they are inferior to many people they see about them. They compensate for these feelings of inferiority by acquiring possessions that give them the appearance of greater success and status than they actually feel they deserve. Unfortunately, to acquire these status symbols they are forced to borrow money, and that means they are in debt and are forced to work even harder to maintain their artificial life of more status than they feel they deserve. If they simply bought into the economy at the level they could pay cash for, they would appear to be in a lower status group than where they would expect to be positioned. Other people have also artificially purchased at a higher level than they can rightfully afford by borrowing, and for the same artificial reasons.

There is an easy way out of this dilemma for most people and that is to shift their value system from the appearance of monetary status, to a position within their social group where they are actually doing something which gives them social status. If they do that they can identify their ego with something real and people will grant them social status for that activity. It doesn’t cost much, in time and effort, but it gives them a feeling of personal value. That addition to their personal self-appraisal can offset most needs for ego promotion instead of going into debt to buy artificial status.

Purchasing lower priced status items means there will be more money available next year for two reasons. You won’t have spent money on the stylish item, which will be out of date soon, and you won’t have wasted money on the carrying charges. A third advantage is you will have money to invest in something which will make money rather than consuming it. Stocks, if you don’t have enough to buy a minimal house, will on average make money, but buying a house is better because it gets you out from under rent. Even if the house doesn’t grow in value at least you save the rent money, and on average a house will grow in value. This means buying a really cheap house that you can pay cash for, and then upgrading when you can pay cash for a better place.

The basic idea is that people always want more and better stuff to gain social status, but the best way to be ahead of that game in a couple of years is to avoid paying money that doesn’t get you real status. The stuff you can buy is just a sort of fake display of status, and what you really want is real status, because that is what feels best.

Real status is better than artificial status bought on credit from a bank.