In Career, Discussions, Discussions, Education, Entrepreneurs, Money, Wealth

Are we more interested in our own status than making more money?

In a book I really enjoyed Theof Choice, it stated:


“In most cases, more than half of the respondents chose the options that gave them better relative position.

Better to be a big fish, earning $50,000, in a small pond than a small fish, earning $100,000, in a big one.”


Never mind if they really are or not, people LIKE feeling like they make double than their friends and family.

It makes them feel important and proud.

That, I can understand. We humans are a competitive bunch. We always want to one-up each other, and basically benchmark ourselves against how others are doing to make sure we’re meeting expectations.


This is an exception I thought of — cost of living varies a lot, and you can’t just take absolute earning power into account without the other factors.

It can make sense that if you earn $100,000 in NYC, you aren’t going to really feel like you earn $100,000, versus if you made that money in some small town in the middle of nowhere.

A great example of this is that my rent in a well-located, close-to-a-subway-line NYC area (Midtown), was $5000/month, which is $60,000 (net) a year, or a little over half of your gross income if you earned $100,000 a year.

That leaves you with a lot less money to live your New York dream, and in contrast, people around you may be pulling in $500,000 to a million a year, which understandably can make you jealous.

One can always make the argument that you should just bloody live somewhere cheaper like Brooklyn with your $100,000 salary, but my point about cost of living not being equal in every city, still stands.


Anyway, let’s say the above finding took into account geographic areas.

I was told in high school by my sibling that most people liked to say they worked in white-collar jobs, because blue-collar jobs weren’t prestigious.

Who wants to say that they work on a construction site, when they can say they work at some fancy bank instead?

He told me: Don’t go for the $30,000/year white-collar office job if you can make bank by operating a crane for an excess of $100,000/year.

I replied back: If I had any viable aptitude for working a machine, I’d do it.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) my skills lay more in the other direction. More mental than physical, but what he said has always stuck with me.

It’s also why I know when I am looking at a long-haul truck driver with a really nice custom rig, an electrician or plumber, or a guy who looks like he’s “just” a construction worker, I always tell myself that they could be making a lot more than you can imagine.

Those folks also tend to be more down-to-earth and less into spending for appearance’s sake, which helps them mount a great defense against lifestyle inflation and spending beyond their means.

I’m also pretty sure that if your family is as snobby as my extended one, they’d start comparing kids and say:

“Oh, so-your-so-and-so is only a __[insert blue collar job__? Well MY so-and-so is a __[insert a white collar job]__”



From the book: Priceless – The Myth of Fair Value

“To double your social status, you need to earn about 2.6 times as much, according to one study by Stevens.”

Yep, pretty easy. Want to reach another level? 2.6 times more.

So if you earn $30,000 a year, then you need to earn $78,000.

If you earn $78,000, then you need to earn $202,800.

..and so on.

Of course, what the heck does ‘status’ really mean anyway?

That you can join a fancy country club?

I am not entirely sold on it having any value other than giving you a personal boost of confidence and pride, but if it floats your boat…!!


The main thing I’ve always kept in mind is to be sought after and to be the best you can be.

Back to those truckers — I saw a documentary on those truckers with custom rigs, and some of them made in excess of $100,000/year because they had serious skills in being able to haul special or delicate goods that were worth millions, like large delicate instruments, or glass.

They weren’t just driving a truck, they were able to drive at a decent speed while being able to minimize any damage done to the goods they were transporting.

They became well-known in the business for being “the guy to go to if you want your glass unbroken”, and they not only knew their job, they did it well and enjoyed it.

So even if you don’t think this it the career you’re meant to be in, or you hate it with a passion, try doing it to the best of your abilities and maybe it’ll open up doors to another career you didn’t even consider before.


(Obviously I’d choose money.)

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Am my own Sugar Daddy. Am a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I have 11 side incomes that are on track in 2020 to make me $50K - $75K. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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Posted on October 1, 2014

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  1. Anne @ Unique Gifter

    I am surrounded by a lot of tradespeople, most of them get a lot of respect for what they do, which is nice to see. They also definitely win the income game where I live, so thankfully there’s not a lot of competition on that front going on! However, many people with trades or operating positions believe that the white collar positions at work make more than them, which is very frequently not true.

    1. Mochi & Macarons

      If only they knew!! Average is around $30K


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