Being a big financial fish in a little money pond
I keep reading over and over again how if you are a big fish in a little money pond, you will be happier.
What they mean is that if you know you are the biggest earner on the block of people, you’re the happiest. If you make a lot of money but everyone else around you earns way more, you’re going to be far more dissatisfied with your life.
A lot of this rings true because no matter how terrible this sounds, it DOES feel good when you are the one who has your #$*# under control. When you are the one who is taking that big vacation, or driving that nice car.
No one really wants to be the one who drives the crappy beater car in a garage full of Porsches unless you truly do not give AF about that stuff and can rise above it all.
I know this FIRST HAND because I did for many years.
I live in a building where Ferrari cars are expected, and everyone owns a Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Audi as their “minimum”.
What did I drive? A $10,000 wreck I bought cash with dents on the side. I didn’t care about cars back then (to be honest, still don’t, except I do really love mine).
It was a huge honking minivan that was from the 90s. I parked it in my spot right in front of the Porsches’, and always got looks.
You know. LOOKS.
Not stares, but pitying sort of looks… bordering on distaste. Almost disgust, like — How is SHE living in this building where everyone else has a ton of money but she drives the crappiest car of all?
Then, I brought home my new car, it replaced my old one, and suddenly it was looks of bewilderment, bordering on jealousy/envy and surprise.
I started getting more “Hellos”, and people were far warmer / friendlier to me, which all the more disgusted me because if you weren’t polite to me before when you thought I had no money and was some broke ass squatter or renter in someone’s fancy apartment, I am sure as hell not going to be friends with you now.
So I am civil back, but not friendly.
But did any of that make me feel bad? HELL YES.
I FELT bad after a while for not driving a Porsche, or a brand new Mercedes G-Wagon. Isn’t that ridiculous? I was in a (then) perfectly fine, and functioning car that locked, had heat and was serviceable, and I felt BAD about my car.
I can completely relate to feeling like the small fish in a big pond.
Now, I guess with my car, I am just a fish in the same pond. Maybe a slightly more elevated fish, you know with sparkles because of my car.
At any rate, my status in the building has been polished off a bit in the eyes of others, and I can feel it. They’re on the verge of asking me how the eff I could go from a beater car to this, and probably think I won the lottery or someone gave me a lot of money (inheritance).
None of that is true, it is all my money but I don’t have to say anything to prove anything to these people. I live my own life.
And that is the crux of it all — it can be difficult, even if you are woke AF and completely self-aware and confident, to avoid all of this uncomfortable-ness.
This awkwardness of “oh I am not going anywhere this year, I am staying at home” when a neighbour talks about their latest trip to Paris.
We are after all, only human.
And I am very human in that I do and did compare myself to others even as I tried very hard not to.
It is just human nature.
So the best piece of advice is to be a big fish in a small pond which means:
- Buy in a poorer not richer neighbourhood — A nice house, not in the slums, but middle-class, with salt of the earth folks; a starter home in a more affordable neighbourhood is better for your mental health than a small home in a huge McMansion community
- Hang out with people who are not filthy rich — Very easy, trust me, not many people are but try not to seek them out to because you’ll end up feeling resentful when you hear them talk about their lives
- Compare yourself to those who have just about the same as you, or less — This sounds terrible but as we are people who compare and judge constantly, you should just lower your sights. Stop comparing your life to the way a Kardashian on TV lives. Stop comparing your life to your in-law siblings who may make three times your income.
Do this, and you’ll feel much happier across ALL income ranges.