Mrs YFG here.
This week I walked into a colleague’s office and remarked “nice coat”. Turns out it was £450, and is meant to look as expensive. This gave my colleague the opportunity to let loose. They weren’t happy. She had to drape her coat over the back of her chair. It had no loop to hang the coat on a hook. She wasn’t impressed. For £450 she didn’t even get a coat hook.
My first thought was WTF. Why spend that much money on something which doesn’t return its value, and which you don’t love? Why buy it when you are unhappy with it? And then I remembered that we had different priorities. Different desires. We are different people. And I used to have the same desires…
I grew up learning that if you earned money, you earned the right to spend it as you wished. I worked from age 11 (paper round…). That money was mine to do with as I pleased, as long as I saved one-third of it. The harder I worked, the more money I received, the more I could spend. My capacity for acquiring pretty shiny things expanded. Excellent.
This carried on throughout university: my loan was there to be spent. If I had it, I spent it, and if I didn’t, I had my savings. Because I was going to earn it all back as a hotshot lawyer, right?
Lifestyle inflation hit me hard when I started working at The Firm. I went from being a poor student to a trainee on well over than the average UK annual salary. Each month I’d save a quarter of my salary and then proceeded to use the rest for what I felt I deserved. I could afford it, right?
I would think nothing of spending £300 per dress (try The Fold London for such epic beauties). And more commonly about £100-£150 on something fancy from Hobbs. I would buy these items to cheer myself up and try to repair my poor self-worth. I would look more beautiful if I wore expensive clothes: I would be better.
Of course, this is a ridiculous amount of money to spend on things that are not essential and don’t matter. I am fortunate enough to have had that disposable income. It makes me feel stupid for wasting it.
Buying stuff won’t improve your self-worth
Years later (and thousands of pounds poorer) my self-worth is not improved. Dressing top to toe in LK Bennett does not make me a better, happier, or smarter, person. I could do my job in pyjamas (and would very much like to do so). I wish I had put the money into my savings instead: £100 saved is £100 I don’t have to earn.
Just because I can afford something doesn’t mean I need or want it.