Consumerism has run amok, most of us can agree on this. Americans, on the whole, buy things we cannot afford. We buy nice cars, clothes, eat at fancy places, drink fine wines, pretentious coffees, and $12 martinis. We stretch to afford the apartment, condo, townhouse, or house that is probably not within our budget. We covet electonic gadgets, like ipods, and pda phones, brand name watches, and TVs.
Few would dispute this. So, I guess the question is, why?
What are we trying to accomplish? What void are we trying to fulfill? Who are we trying to impress?
Ahhh... I think that last question is the most important one. Especially for the twenty and thirty somethings among us. We have all read, heard and experienced the phenomenon that goes on after college. Some of our friends go on to Med School, Law School, B-School. Some get entry level jobs, others get jobs that somehow pay much better than the rest of us. Suddenly, we go from all being poor college students to varying levels of economic means.
We get together on the weekends to ogle at each other's cars, compliment their shoes, and go out for drinks at the latest trendy hot spot. All the while competing to see who can run up higher credit card debts.
What if we did something different when we got together? Many of us have moved past some of the pretentious stuff that I just talked about, and instead have dinner parties, game night, and other inexpensive ways to gather. But let's take it a step further.
What if we got together with our friends once a month and compared our balance sheets? What if this was the social norm? What if EVERYONE, not just us whacky personal finance bloggers, posted our net worth statements every month?
How would that change our spending habits? Would we be less ready to compliments our buddy's hot new sports car if we knew he could not afford it? What if our friend just got some trendy new Gucci shoes for $300, and put it on his already maxed out Nordstrom card? And we all knew it! Would he even do it in the first place?
It's funny how private we are about our financial lives. Are we embarassed by how bad it is? Or are we more embarassed by how good it is?
We talk with our friends about our most personal and private feelings. Dreams, fears, drugs, fantasies, and even love. Nothing is off limits. Except money.
Disagree? Who are your five closest friends? What is their favorite kind of food? Are they drinkers? Where are the last three places they have traveled? What is their net worth?