It’s true, I spend a lot of my time not looking rich and looking far more like a homeless guy.
Ok, maybe a bit of an exaggeration but it’s an excuse for an anecdote. So get a cup of coca and gather round, it’s Mr Zombie’s Story Time.
When Mr Z was way younger (he had luscious curly hair back then) he was visiting family, Mother Z’s second cousin twice removed or something like that.
Her son was older than Mr Z and working in a professional job, who popped in to say hello. I remember he just seemed like a nice guy, not some uptight businessman in a perfectly fitting suit with a £1,000 watch poking out the bottom of the cuffs. He chatted away, then said his goodbyes and got ready to leave.
His mum was obviously proud of him, but as he departed she asked
Why do you dress like a homeless guy? In ripped jeans and that crappy old T-shirt. You earn a good wage, buy yourself some nice clothes. You might even get a girlfriend.
The reply blew Mr Z’s young mind;
Mum, why would I want to look rich? Guys will assume I have money and try to mug me. People will try to sell me stuff for more. Girls will assume I got loads of cash. They’ll want a piece of that pie. Nah, I’m happy looking like I’m poor.
Mr Z nodded in agreement, his then nimble mind pouncing on the idea, trapping and implanting it deep within his subconscious.
The guy probably drives a 7-Series BMW now and is up to his eyeballs in thousand % consumer debt. I have no idea. But I still agree wholeheartedly with what he said.
Tryring to look richer than your are is the modern equivalent of showing off your fancy feathers in a display of vitality or slaying your rivals in a display of power. We live in a time of consumption and supposedly cheap credit, meaning that consumers can buy goods that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford with apparent ease. “All I need to do is make the affordable payment of £200? Sign me up.”
Some, likely reptilian, part of my brain can rationalise why is might seem like a good idea, buy some fancy trinkets and others will think you are powerful and rich, so alleviating your social status. A much larger part of my brain still struggles to understand why it isn’t openly mocked more often.
When Mrs Z and I first started seeing each other I was driving an old Skoda, it looked like it was made of cast iron and drove like it too. But it was cheap and it took me surfing every weekend, hell it even served as a
shitty great bed for two weeks on a surf trip to South West France. One of her now ex-friends commented on the car, to the extent that I must have money problems if I was a qualified accountant and driving something so rubbish.
The possibility that I was driving it out of choice didn’t even enter in her mind, or if it did the powers of Irrational Stupidity battered it into pieces and casually pushed it out the window into Forgotten Thought Chasm, before it got a chance to properly form. The very fact that I wasn’t displaying wealth or earning power through what I was driving was inconceivable. Therefore, I must have been hiding some filthy drug habit or a harem of seven wives and thirty-five children.
Bugger me, there’s even guides out there on how to look wealthy. Just reading it makes me want to stick pins in the author’s feet.
When I worked as an accountant I struggled to understand the need for us all to wear suits and work from a fancy office. Why weren’t the clients pissed off with this? They were paying for it after all. Why didn’t they question the fleet of Audi’s and Merc’s that would turn up on a Monday morning (and wonder why they brought a handyman along with them in a bright red Skoda) in preparation of the upcoming audit? Displays of wealth seem to be required in business too. I suppose clients took comfort from the nice clothes and cars, they must be really good with money and accountancy stuff if they can afford all these niceties. Perhaps the suits gave us an unparalleled knowledge of the financial reporting standards. If they were supposed to, mine didn’t, it just emanated a faint smell of uselessness. It never made me a better accountant.
There was an episode of Dragon’s Den a while back. The guy’s proposal was sound, he presented numbers that were thoughtfully backed up and his product seemed impeccable. I wish I could remember what it was. He got turned away. Why? Because he didn’t wear a fucking suit! The dismissals were along the lines of;
“Your idea is good, but really, how can we trust someone that doesn’t dress smart. If you can’t dress smart how could you look after a business?”
Utterly incredible, I never knew creating a product and running a business was a simple as paying for then slipping into a well fitting suit. From memory he was wearing chinos, smart-ish shoes and a polo neck. Not a mankini. Like the consumer buying a fancy car to pretend they have wealth, in business we are expected to use a suit to radiate diligence, knowledge and professionalism. Good thing no one in a suit has ever done anything wrong.
We have a dress down day at work every so often. I’ve not noticed a sudden increase in swearing, brawling or groping during these days. Everyone carries on as normal. There’s no dramatic decrease in productivity, “oh shit, I can’t remember how to use Excel, I need a tie constricting blood-flow to my head for my intelligence to prosper. Quick, hand me your belt.” Given the opportunity we are happier wearing something comfortable over ‘business wear’.
Yet time and time again so many of us choose to look rich over embedding habits that actually make us rich. Even though we know we are presenting a false doppelgänger and trying look like a millionaire whilst just scraping by, plenty still do it in the hope that there is some magic payoff.
The steps to not looking rich whilst actually getting rich are frightfully simple;
- – Don’t give a shit what other people think about vacuous things, like what you wear or what car you drive.
- – Realise that spending excessive money on fancy trinkets rarely brings happiness and is an almost sure-fire way NOT to get rich.
- – Make purchases based on your needs and not the desire the display wealth as part of some bizarre mating ritual.
I’ll spend this weekend in the same attire I do most weekends. A comfy pair of old jeans, a t-shirt and a beaten up hoodie. Perfect for a trip to the tip and then some board games and beers in the evening with friends. It’s also great armour against would be muggers and advances from shallow ladies and/or men. Think of the terrifying alternative, Mr Zombie charging down the street with a gang of muggers trying to thieve from him and a gaggle of gold hungry women and men trying to seduce him.
No thanks. I’ll trot about, tinkering, completing tasks and having a good time safe in the knowledge that my decision to not spend a ludicrous amount of money to make myself look rich is actually making me richer, despite what the herd may think of me.
Have a good weekend.