The other day, I was talking with someone and they took shots at me by pointing out a small hole in the pants I was wearing. It was not revealing or anything and I was aware of it being there, but this person’s comment offended me quite a bit initially because I knew they were trying to create a narrative about me and my finances based on my clothes.
We all do this at one time or another and it’s common to pass judgment on someone based on their appearance (not saying it’s right though). After the initial shock of this comment wore off, I laughed a little to myself realizing that this person clearly had it all wrong about me and that I could care less if that was their opinion.
Honestly, I can’t be one of those people who say they don’t care at all about people’s opinion of them because I feel like that’s a false statement. We all care somewhat or else we wouldn’t try to be extra polite in public or dress presentably before we head out the door. We wouldn’t get embarrassed when talking with someone only to realize there was a piece of spinach our teeth the whole time.
We often care about other people’s perception of us and there’s nothing wrong with this. I certainly care, but only to some extent.
In terms of having holes in some of my clothes, I’m not the only one who is totally okay with it and I don’t care much about other people’s opinions or judgment on what I choose to wear.
So why am I writing this whole blog post then? I know this is different from what I usually post but I’ve always believed in being completely authentic and honest about my experiences on this site and I do believe there’s a financial lesson to be learned that could impact you and even change your outlook or increase your focus on your financial goals.
To elaborate on that lesson, I wanted to share 3 key reasons why I don’t care much about people’s opinions on me wearing clothes with holes in them.
I Clearly Care More About Saving and Investing
Over the past few years, my priorities have really shifted. I care less about buying clothes and material items and more about achieving financial freedom. While I could buy a ton of clothes and shoes every month, instead I choose to focus on debt payoff, saving and investing because that’s what makes me happy.
I created a vision for my life that involves me living on my own terms and not owing anyone money. This is why I paid off $30,000+ of debt in just under 3 years. This is why I’ve added thousands to my emergency savings fund so when unexpected expenses arise, I have the money on hand to handle them stress-free.
This is why I prioritize investing and set a goal to max out my retirement account next year. When I do want to treat myself or spend money on something fun, I do it as long as it aligns with my values. Right now, I’m pretty comfortable with the clothing I have and don’t really see any reason to get rid of wearable items that I love.
Related: Shopping Ban Update: 4 Months In
I LOVE Being Frugal
Second, it’s no secret that I loveeeeeeee being frugal. I became frugal out of necessity years ago because I really couldn’t afford to spend any extra money. Now, I’m frugal by choice because I absolutely love the lifestyle.
I try to focus on my values and avoid spending money on things that are unnecessary to me. I love getting deals, using coupons, and being creative with what I have. I enjoy shopping at thrift stores for my son’s school clothes. I see nothing wrong with my affordable prepaid cell phone from Republic Wireless.
I earn cash back on credit cards and by using free apps like Ebates and Swagbucks. I cook most of my meals at home because it means I don’t have to spend a fortune on mediocre restaurant food. I check my bank account daily and love budgeting to stay on track throughout the month. I understand that doesn’t sit well with some people who may think I’m super cheap or just plain broke, but oh well.
I’m Not Defined By Clothes…Or Anything I Have
Finally, I’m not defined by what I wear. I used to feel that way though. I used to think that the fancier my clothes were, the more money people would think I have. I used to think that having designer purses and shoes would let people know that I was well off financially.
This picture below was from a few years ago. I was attending a fashion show in Chicago and remember going to the mall and spending well over $100 for that dress and shoes (and hardly ever wore it again). Looking back, it was silly to waste all that money because I didn’t really have it to spend.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about taking care of yourself, but I’m more interested in living my life instead of trying to show off for other people and give off a false impression. Sometimes my hair is a hot mess, I have acne and hardly wear makeup, and while I love my clothes, some of the items I have do have holes in them but I don’t define myself by any of these standards.
I also dislike when people define themselves and others based on what they do for a living when that is only a piece of their life.
I’d rather be defined by my unique characteristics and personality.
Don’t Let People’s Opinions Get In The Way of Your Financial Path
This is such an important lesson to learn on your financial journey.
Some people won’t understand why you do certain things and how you manage your money. They may form opinions about you that may or may not be true. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what other people think because when you get caught up in someone else’s opinion, you lose sight of your goals and vision for your life.
Then, you get caught up in pleasing someone else and making them feel happy and comfortable instead of doing that for yourself.
Last year, I was listening to Paula Pant’s podcast where she interviewed a man who retired early on a teacher’s salary. He was super frugal and did some outrageous things like riding his bike several miles to work all year round and eating a weird diet of only pasta and mussels he would get a deal on locally for protein.
During the podcast interview, he mentioned how back when he was working, one of his colleagues told him that she and the rest of the staff wanted to start a fund at the school for him to “help him out”. In other words, they believed he was struggling financially due to his lifestyle choices.
What would have happened if he would have listened to their opinion and the narrative they tried to create about him based on their observations? They had no idea he was saving boatloads of his income and could probably afford to pay for a car in cash at that time but chose not to because that didn’t align with his values and wouldn’t make him truly happy. If he would have let the opinion of others affect him and the path he was on, he probably wouldn’t be enjoying financial freedom today.
Where do you draw the line when it comes to caring about other people’s opinions on your life and choices? Have you ever found yourself trying to prove your financial status to others and what made you stop?
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