As my freshman year of college is wrapping up, I have my eyes set on the goal of bringing my car along for the ride next year. It’ll take quite a bit of work and dedication but I’m willing. With this goal in mind, I have become even more conscious of my spending, especially on the little things that add up. This mindset got me on a track of thinking in line with materialism versus memories.
In this day and age, status means so much and this status comes from how you present yourself via material things on social media but also real life. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Off-White, Lululemon, and Rolex are a very few examples of some of the most popular brands out there today. You may also notice that these are some of the most expensive as well. Now I’m not here to stop anyone from buying what makes them happy but I also wonder at how happy people who buy these items actually are. How much of the buying of these items is because you feel good in it and how much of it is that you feel good in it because it’s expensive and raises your status in the eyes of others?
An interesting topic was covered in my anthropology class the other day: it was about value. The professor started by talking about money. In different cultures, money is represented by different objects. The island of Yap has giant boulders carved down into round donut shapes — these pieces are too heavy to transfer from place to place yet they still represent money the same way we represent money in the U.S. — a tangible stand-in for value. This strategy might seem strange to people used to Western standards of money but, come to think of it, our system is not all that different.
Money only works because it is based in belief. We believe this green piece of paper we cling to has a specific value. In reality, money doesn’t even exist because its value is only real in our heads. The same applies to expensive brands and diamonds. The only reason they are so expensive is because we decided that they were valuable. A diamond, technically, is just another rock. It might be shiny or “rare” but technically it is inherently no more valuable than any other pebble you find on the ground.
Tangent aside, I realize how little it means to me to buy these expensive items. I realize that I am one person and that other people might see this differently, but I would choose spending time with my friends or family over anything materialistic in a heartbeat. In the end, the memories are what will complete my life, not how many expensive wallets I own. I find it increasingly more important to spend time with my loved ones and increasingly less important to spend money or energy trying to buy items to portray a certain image or take part in expensive activities. There are plenty of options out there to spend time with people and spend no money at all. It’s attainable with a bit of creativity.
This being said, not everyone thinks this way and so I have a hard time watching friends blow money on expensive items they don’t need instead of saving up for something they truly want and that would bring them happiness. I can easily sacrifice spending money on most things in order to save up for the goal of bringing my car to college next year. For me, my car would bring me a long term happiness. It is my way of buying my freedom back and opening the door to more opportunities for important memories to be made with friends. It’s always been said that happiness cannot be bought, but chances are, if you can distinguish what to spend your money on, you’ll find yourself happier in the long run.