Okay, I’m going seriously left of centre today.
But, there’s a massive lesson in this and I bring it all together in the finale.
Let’s jump straight in.
More evidence that the world’s gone mad…
Take a look at this jacket here. This is a Marmot Mammoth Parka. On the streets of New York (like I would know) it’s known as a biggie because of it’s baggy shape.
To start with, one of these retails for around US$680. Yep. That zero is supposed to be there. Now I haven’t spent a lot of time in cold climates, but is that a reasonable price to pay for a parka? Seems pretty over the top to me. Maybe it is lined with actual mammoth fur.
But with exclusivity comes desirability. And with that hype comes the news that people are now getting killed for their biggies in New York. Earlier in the month a teenage boy was shot at an ice-skating rink after refusing to give up his biggie. A 14-year-old boy was caught up in the mess and was shot in the back.
The senselessness of the tragedy is stupefying. Of all the things to die or kill for, how is a day-glo parka one of them? Seriously, duck down to Lowes (Department store in Sydney), you can pick up a Mr Big high-vis jacket for 20 bucks.
But this isn’t a new phenomenon. People have been killing people for sneakers since the 80s.
In June, a man tried to rob customers waiting in line for the new US$180 Lebron X Denim Sneakers. But prepared and ready, one of the customers pulled a gun and shot him.
Seriously. Look at these shoes.
Such ugly pieces of crap. If you paid me 180 bucks I still wouldn’t wear them, and definitely not if there’s a chance that I might get killed for them.
It’s tempting to write it all off as one of those crazy only-in-America things. But we did have kids robbing each other for shoes here too – though I don’t think anyone was ever killed.
Maybe it only becomes news in America because there are more guns on the street, and if you’re a disenfranchised minority, life is more desperate. It’s a bit more ‘kill or be killed’.
But I think it also shows us something universal about human nature… and highlights one of the traps on the road to wealth and financial freedom.
And that’s the trap of ‘status goods’.
Your definition of a status good differs on your life context. On the streets of New York its expensive jackets and sneakers.
In Australia it’s more likely to be that Mercedes Benz, a Rolex watch, a flashy house in a well-to-do suburb. If you’re a teenager, it could an I-phone or a particular brand of clothes.
We buy ‘status goods’ to make a statement. I am this kind of person. I have climbed this far up the social tree.
Remember the Seiko ad? “It’s not your car or your clothes… it’s your watch that says most about who you are.”
Buy the watch. Make the statement.
But there are three massive dangers in this kind of thinking.
The first is that status is a relative concept. Your relative position in the social tree requires that there be monkeys below you.
And so rocking out some kind of status good is the same as going around saying, “I’m better than you.”
That’s not very nice. And if this is the vibe you’re putting out into the world, what do you expect to see reflected back at you?
(Some guy with a hoody and a knife?)
No body likes to be the monkey at the bottom getting crapped on.
The other thing that comes with relativity is that your ‘status’ only lasts as long as it takes for everyone else to get what you’ve got. And so we all get locked into an endless treadmill of bigger, better, flashier.
But finally, and this is the real kicker, a concept of status is only compatible with a scarcity mentality.
Let me break that down. I’ve written before about the importance of having an abundance mentality. If you believe that there is limitless abundance in the world, then you will effortlessly welcome wealth into your own life, you will see and seize the opportunities when they arise, and most importantly, you will be generous and beautiful person. It’s the biggest wealth ‘secret’ I have to teach.
But it follows that if you have a scarcity mentality, then the opposite applies.
And a status good by definition is something you have that other people don’t have and can’t have. They can only exist in a world of lack and limit.
But if you believe that it’s true for the monkeys below you, then you must believe, even if only subconsciously (and this is the level that really matters) that it is true for yourself.
The world is limited and the wealth of one excludes the wealth of another.
This is a very, very dangerous idea. Give to much power to this and the road to financial freedom will become a long, fearful slog.
Most rich people I know don’t understand why everyone isn’t rich. They believe there are infinite opportunities to attract wealth into your life. They know the pie is endlessly expanding. And if someone makes a fortune, it doesn’t mean that there’s any less for them or anybody else.
And so they celebrate everybody’s success. And as I’ve said before, they don’t get into the flashy cars and bling. They don’t have a point to prove.
Now I’m not anti-consumerist. I love my things. But I love what my things do for me, not what they say about me.
There is only one truly sustainable source of love and respect and self-worth. And it’s definitely not status goods.
Put the work into loving and accepting yourself, and you won’t be sold on the marketing drivel that watches can make you feel valuable and worthy.
And then you will be free to spend money on the things that really matter to you – your friends, your family and investing in your financial freedom.
It’s as simple, and as difficult, as that.