Trends make money by targeting a specific group and by letting peer pressure do the work for them. They are the equivalent of a wildfire that starts with that friend or acquaintance showing off her new bracelet. Before you know it, you start seeing them everywhere. Let’s be honest, the first time you saw the bracelet you really didn’t think much of it. Now that they are on the wrists of every bank teller, the moms at Cheering practice, and your female co-workers, it starts doing something to your psyche. You start thinking maybe I should get one too. It’s buying a temporary feeling of being cool. It’s like a time machine magically transporting you back to high school where you have that second chance to be the popular girl. For me, I am opting out. I’m choosing to stay right here with my sensible shoes and thrift store jeans. I’m more interested in funding my future than taking a trip to the past. I may be reading more into this whole trend thing, but this is just how I see it. I see it as a competition and more of a status symbol than simply buying something because you like it.
There is always going to be the latest, “must have” fashion accessory, but just because they are everywhere doesn’t mean you need to own them. I can remember when Troll beads were everywhere. They were on bracelets, necklaces, and even put into rings. Someone was explaining to me how I could keep buying new beads and adding to my collection then change them around to coordinate with my outfits. I remember saying something like, “I feel good if I’ve managed to match my socks to my outfit”. There may have a few chuckles and then she realized, I was serious and the subject moved on to something else. I’m not a trendy person. I like purses and jewelry, but I have never spent more than $30 on a purse. Ever. Most of them have been purchased at garage sales or on eBay. A good rule of thumb for buying a purse is “if the sum of the purse is greater than the sum of your checking account, you need to keep the purse you have and walk away”. I’ve always said that I’d rather have a $5 purse with $500 in it than a $500 purse with $5.
It costs a lot of money to be trendy. It requires that you spend top dollar for everything and then sell low once the “market” has dropped. Buying into trends is the exact opposite of making a good investment. I remember a conversation I had with a woman a couple of years ago. She was asking if she should stop contributing to her 401k because the market was so low. “Absolutely not! That’s the best time to buy. It’s like an investment clearance sale.” At the time, I was completely baffled by the question. Now looking back, I remember as she walked away she flung a big, fancy purse over her shoulder and as she waved, her wrist jangled with several shiny bangles. She was used to buying high so the concept of buying low wasn’t something she was accustomed to.
I’m not telling anyone how to spend their own money. I’m just telling them how I spend mine. I see so much that is unbalanced. I see so many people who are broke, who shouldn’t be. It’s not how much money you make, it’s how much you spend. The next time you are about to buy into the next trend, ask yourself why. Is there a level of competition and wanting to get something that “everyone else” has? The more in tune we are to ourselves, the more we are able to walk away from the things we don’t need.