Save. Spend. Splurge.

Status spending: Why the ones who look the richest may actually be the poorest

When I was younger and more foolish, I thought that having a huge wardrobe with lots of variety was the ultimate status symbol. Who wouldn’t love to put on a different outfit every day for a month and not repeat a single piece? The Past Me, that’s who.

I thought that people were judging me on what I wore, how I was presented and that image was everything, so I didn’t save as much or spend as carefully as I should have.

I’ve since learned the following:

  1. Image is important to a certain extent
  2. People who show off the most, have the least
  3. No one is really judging you, except yourself
  4. Spending on quality items is not always a bad thing


I believe that looking good is important, but it is never to be used as an excuse to spend wastefully by having your hair and nails done weekly, or going into heavy credit card debt to buy designer clothing .

You should spend the time, effort and a little bit of money on the following:

  • Wear clothes that fit and flatter — nothing oversized, too tight, or unflattering
  • Dress professionally at work — avoid sweatpants and stained or ripped clothing
  • Spend a little money to get a proper haircut that is flattering
  • Take the time to look groomed by having clean nails (with or without nailpolish)
  • Make sure your skin looks its best — clear, glowing skin is a sign of health
  • For women — wear a little makeup, even if it’s just lip balm and a little blush or mascara
  • Visit the dentist and doctor regularly to improve your body on the inside as well

All of the above is not frou-frou fluff — it is important so that you can get more money at work by looking responsible and showing that you care about how others perceive you at work, especially clients.

A survey of 3000 managers reveled that 43% admitted to passing over someone for a promotion or a raise because of the way they were dressed, and 20% of people were let go from the company because of their attire.

In a more recent study conducted by Catherine Hakim a sociologist at the London School of Economics , being attractive gets men 14% – 27% more money on average, and for attractive women, they earn 12%-20% more money on average, excluding all other factors.

• Attractive people are 10% more likely to be hired
• Taller men earn 17% – 23% more income
• Taller women earn 12% – 26% more
• Obese men and women earned 13 – 16% less than the average

Like it or not, people prefer dealing with and talking to other people who are attractive. You don’t need to be born a supermodel or to have pots of money to be attractive — everyone out there, can look attractive with just a little effort and if they spend their money wisely.

Source: Hakim, Catherine (2011) Erotic Capital: The Power of Attraction in the Boardroom and the Bedroom


Ever turn into a green-eyed monster because you see your neighbor driving a brand new luxury vehicle, his second one in 3 years?

Don’t be.


If you are wondering how you two can work at the same types of jobs but have such different lifestyles, consider that what he is driving was purchased on credit with money he hasn’t earned yet and doesn’t already have.

People supplement and upgrade their lifestyles with credit, and I am seeing more and more examples of people who look wealthy but aren’t at all.

The people who really have a lot of money and who have truly earned every single cent, know how difficult it was to get to that point, and they are not likely to waste it foolishly.

In fact, you may even think that they don’t have any money, but they may have millions stashed in the bank, and are living a simple, happy, comfortable lifestyle without the need to purchase expensive status symbols to show off.

That is not to say that anyone with a luxury vehicle is not wealthy, but if something seems unusual or ‘off’ to you about how they can afford that lifestyle with the jobs that they have — assume that they can’t and either it is all purchased on credit, or someone else (their parents perhaps) are footing the bills in the background.


When I bought things, it was to impress others, to feel important and to basically feel like I had control over my own life (a lie, obviously).

If you think that you should get your hair done every week, or that if you drive an ugly car that doesn’t have the hottest rims on it just so other people can say: Wow, that girl/guy is loaded and successful! — you are doing it for the wrong reasons.

No one is paying attention to the fact that your hair looks amazing each week, they might think it’s natural.

They may even think if you spent $1000 that you didn’t have on rims for your car, you’re actually being wasteful with your money.

You are the only one judging yourself and thinking that there’s an invisible competition out there of “who has more”. It is a losing game and not worth your time or energy.

So what if people don’t think that you’re filthy rich because you don’t get your nails done weekly?

Will it really change your lifestyle? Who you are? Whether or not your family will love you?

Who really cares what strangers think? You’re the one sitting on a healthy emergency fund in case you ever decide to quit your job and do something else, and THAT is the true definition of being wealthy and why people want to be financially secure.

Don’t be dumb like the Past Me and buy to show off to people who probably didn’t even notice or care.


In accordance to all of the above, I am a wholehearted fan of buying quality items that you will get a lot of use out of. This goes for anything from cars to shoes.


Buying a luxury car, makes total sense to me if you are planning on keeping it for 20 years. Of course, this is difficult if you live up north where the salt and snow eats at your car each year, but even so — I’d rather buy a more expensive vehicle if I am going to be safer and more comfortable on the road.

I also agree on buying a few pairs of high quality shoes to wear to work. There’s no need to save on shoes and pay only $20 for them if you can afford better shoes. We spend a lot of our day on our feet, and we walk a lot — so why not buy shoes that make your feet happy and healthy?

Where I think the problem lies is that fine line between buying a perfectly comfortable pair of shoes at $100 and justifying a $900 pair of designer shoes.

That’s where I would be careful about enabling yourself to buy what you know deep down, is unnecessary.

Besides, not all designer items or items of the highest price tag are of the best quality. A lot of things I own that I didn’t pay a ton of money for, have lasted well over a decade, whereas things I’ve paid a lot of money for, have pilled, faded or torn long before I had gotten good use out of it.


How you spend your money is your own personal call based on your income and lifestyle.

Only you can make the decision for whether or not it is worth it and if you can afford it, based on where you stand financially.

Just remember that the ones who are truly wealthy, are the ones who spent less than what they made, even if it was on a low income, and they are not necessarily the ones who look like they are the richest.


  • Mo' Money Mo' Houses

    Totally agree. There are so many people I see that I wonder how they afford their nice car or purses, and the truth is they are most likely in debt and they bought everything on credit.

  • MelD

    Agree, there is never any reason not to look neat and tidy in whatever situation, but especially in a work one.
    Past Me – oh dear, yes, Past Me has had her moments… for a while I spent $ for a monthly facial, even though the beautician did nothing I haven’t been doing at home since I was a teenager. Duh. Glad I woke up to that one.
    My husband, who is tall, doesn’t believe me when I say that his simple presence is more commanding and he owes at least some of his success in a variety of situations to that (I’m only 5’2″, I feel the pain!!)…
    I learnt early on to distinguish between pseudo-rich and really rich because of where and how I grew up; this has the advantage that I am not generally easily impressed by wealth, know that the really rich often drive the most beaten-up cars (!), and am not intimidated by status. This has been an advantage to me and despite my lack of height, over the years I’ve found that a pleasant manner and a bit of confidence will get you further than ostentatious wealth.
    And finally, I spent some time today in a café, people-watching and coincidentally, specifically looking at feet: I was quite shocked at how many people (esp. women) wear poor and unflattering footwear, both high and flat. Learnt a few lessons there!!

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      5’2″! You’re tiny. I’m 5’5″ and I FEEL tiny, but.. my mom is 5’2″ and she looks tiny 🙂

      Pseudo-rich and really rich is harder to see in North America unless you look between the lines. Women definitely are under more scrutiny to look good, rich or poor…

  • cj

    Glad to see the red shoes down here Mochimac!!! Ya know what’s always in fashion? Fit and smart. They never go out of style. I get away with wearing a t-shirt and shorts to work every day. Yes, I am the guitar instructor, but I am well groomed, fit and occasionally smart, especially at the studio.

    It’s looking crisp over here. Very nice indeed!

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