Fancy cars and la­bels – do they make us hap­pier?

CityPress - - Business - MAVIS UREKE

We hear this often – your ap­pear­ance makes you con­fi­dent and hap­pier, right? As such, many strive to make a state­ment with the cars they drive and the clothes they wear. We live in a ma­te­ri­al­is­tic world, where our iden­tity and egos are de­fined by what we own, which car we drive and what cloth­ing la­bels we wear.

There is an as­sump­tion that the fancier the car and the more ex­pen­sive the la­bel, the more so­phis­ti­cated we look, and the more im­pres­sive the state­ment is that we make, the more con­fi­dent we are. It is also as­sumed that the more so­phis­ti­cated we look, the hap­pier we be­come.

How­ever, re­search has shown that if you were un­happy be­fore you got your fancy car or your de­signer threads, your happiness will be short-lived af­ter you get them be­cause you’ll adapt to be­ing flush af­ter a cou­ple of weeks and it will no longer be ex­cit­ing or ful­fill­ing.

What this means is that you need some­thing else to make you happy. Think about it, you buy your de­signer dress to­day for an event, and the next time there is an event, you look through your closet and you feel like you have noth­ing to wear, so off you go to buy an­other one. If you were hap­pier be­fore you bought your fancy car or de­signer clothes, you will con­tinue to be happy be­cause you have an in­ter­nal lo­cus of con­trol.

What you own does not de­fine you, but your self­aware­ness, self-man­age­ment and the pri­ori­ti­sa­tion of happiness in your life does. It is meet­ing the un­quench­able need to be­come more, be more and do more that is in­nate in all of us.

When you do not pri­ori­tise happiness and you mea­sure your self-worth by how much money you have or what car you drive, you will con­stantly be met with changes that you can­not con­trol and you will be­come un­happy.

An­other in­ter­est­ing is­sue is that of af­ford­abil­ity. Many peo­ple have overex­tended them­selves by buy­ing fancy cars and de­signer clothes on credit so they can feel hap­pier, or so they can numb their neg­a­tive emo­tions of in­se­cu­rity, low self-es­teem and neg­a­tive self-image.

So, for ex­am­ple, let’s say you bought a fancy lux­ury car that you were un­able to pur­chase cash. If your to­tal monthly ve­hi­cle ex­penses, in­clud­ing the prin­ci­pal debt, in­ter­est and in­sur­ance, ex­ceeds 10% of your gross in­come, you can­not af­ford the car and you are over­stretch­ing your fi­nances. A car, be­ing a de­pre­ci­at­ing as­set, should not cost more than 10% of your gross earn­ings.

Many peo­ple are stuck in jobs that make them un­happy be­cause they have a car that is costly to re­pay, which means they are stuck. Happiness is about over­all well-be­ing – it’s not about one fancy item or one area of our lives.

An­other fac­tor to con­sider is the process where some­one ex­er­cises fi­nan­cial dis­ci­pline, and works on build­ing up their wealth first. Once they have enough in­ter­est-gen­er­at­ing as­sets, they can af­ford to buy the lux­ury car and de­signer la­bels.

Most peo­ple, un­for­tu­nately, seek in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion – they want to en­joy now and pay later. In­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion is in­stant gain with long-term pain. Ureke is the au­thor of Man­ag­ing Emo­tions for Fi­nan­cial Free­dom. The book can be bought from Ama­zon or

mav­i­ for R180

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