There’s a great quote on social media, a version of which is attributed to Will Smith: “People buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have in order to impress people they don’t like.”
So if you are one of those people who spends money trying to impress others, now is a great time to challenge yourself and start thinking about what is really important and why you should not care what others think–especially when it comes to the things you own and what you do with the money God has given to you.
Reflect on 1 Peter 2:11, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and sojourners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against the soul.”
We are in this world but not of this world. As the verse says, we are only traveling through this world on the way to our eternal home, which is not here on earth. So all the stuff we have—the cars, clothes, house, shoes, gadgets, electronics, jewelry, sports gear and the rest of it—will be left behind when we die. We cannot take it with us. Putting any importance on having things can be the “worldly desires that wage war against the soul.”
So many of us feel pressured into buying stuff…to impress people…to just say we have it…to keep up with the neighbors…to make the kids happy…because it’s new…because it’s advertised…and any other reason you want to throw in here. But are any of those reasons really important?
When it comes to money, not caring what other people think can significantly improve your personal bottom line. Ponder how much more money you could save if you weren’t feeling compelled to buy the newest tech gadgets as soon as they come on the market. Or if you could stay away from dinner at the fast food places and lunches out at work in order to save for a more important goal such as a family vacation. How much would you save by using the ‘outdated’ but fully functional smart phones for a few years instead of turning it in every time there is an upgraded model? What would happen to your car budget if you drove a good quality used car until the wheels fall off instead of leasing a new one every few years? What if you cut back on the expensive activities for the kids and instead saved for their college education?
What would happen to your spending if you only bought what you really, really need in order to survive, instead of buying the stuff you or the kids want because “everybody’s got one?” What would happen to your bank account if you focused on saving not spending?
When you stop caring what other people think, and you stop buying things just because everyone else does, you can focus your attention on meeting your personal and family goals, and amazing things can happen.
You can put your needs and your family’s needs first — which is exactly where they should be. It will mean cutting back on the spending, telling the kids ‘No” more often, doing without some of the stuff you have gotten used to having and generally simplifying your life.
But it will also mean a sense of freedom when you don’t care what others think and you concentrate on only those things that are right for your family. Cutting the cable, getting rid of the gadgets and technology, opting out of constant activities with the kids means less financial stress, more personal time with the family, more smiles, laughs and fun together.
Put your family first and stop caring what others think. Recognize that all the name brands are just overpriced status symbols that stand between your family and your family’s financial goals. Teach your kids that they should not center their lives around trying to keep up with their peers, but rather doing what they love.
What people think of you cannot change who you are or what you are worth, unless you allow them to.
How other people spend their money may be totally wrong for you and your family. What is best for someone else may be your worst nightmare. If you are constantly worried about what people are thinking, you will never have the will to do what is right for you and your family.
I recall a situation where one of our friends got a job with a new company and there was an opportunity for the company’s stock to explode in value. Many of our other friends bought stock in that company, because our friend was so excited and encouraged us to do so. But instead of exploding in value, the company imploded and went out of business. Friends who jumped aboard the bandwagon and bought stock lost the money they had invested. This is a great lesson—you are the only one stuck with the consequences of your decisions. Your friends don’t have to live with your choices–you do.
Life is simply too short to try and live your life to impress other people– there are too many people and you will never succeed because most people don’t care as much as you think they do. “You wouldn’t worry so much what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” (Eleanor Roosevelt.)
If you are buying things to impress people, consider how many of those people will even be in your life a year from now or five years from now or ten years from now.
Being true to God, content with what you have and focused on the needs of your family are so much more important than caring if someone approves of your simple lifestyle.
Surround yourself with people who will support your efforts and help you achieve your goals. Counting on friends as a support system is important to your physical, mental and financial health.
So, figure out what you really want in your financial life–whether that’s getting out of debt, living a simple lifestyle, funding college for the kids, or retiring early and then pursue it with full abandon.
If people criticize you they were not your friends to begin with. Only those who love you as you are will support you when you are on a journey of change.