Fake images of money or success

Most people try to put out an image of having money or maybe being successful. Over my lifetime I have observed this first-hand. I hear it from others, read about the topic, and can even watch it on TV or the news. So many people put out fake images instead of being themselves. While these “illusions” are true of many things in life, for now we will keep the topic financially focused.

I knew someone who told me that when they grew up, their mom insisted on driving a Cadillac and living in a certain house in a certain neighborhood. The mom insisted on having her nails done weekly or so, hair made up, nice clothes, and more. When the car was a few years old, she had to get a new Cadillac. She had to insist on living an image, even though it was not real.

But the truth was the family was scaping by, often in debt, with almost no retirement or even emergency savings, and living on the brink. The father was a postal worker, and while a very important job in which he worked very hard at it, the pay is not the best..at least not for affording a Cadillac. The mom was in the service field, also making limited dollars. The parents, and especially the mom, insisted on having products, trying to be “flashy”, and putting on a fake image for their neighbors and who knows who else they were trying to impress. More than likely they did not even know who they were putting an image on for. As no one does.

When I was a kid, my dad was a stockbroker. Not a very good one, but he was one. So he also tried to put out an image of professional success. He bought a nice house, we took the annual vacations, had the cars and TVS, and he tried to show people that he was successful (which he wasn’t). But behind the scenes it was a mess. We were living on the edge, there was substance abuse, he was not good at his job and even had some lawsuits from clients (if I remember correctly) and we had other challenges happening behind closed doors.

Then, when the alcohol won out, the house of cards, or our fake image, came tumbling down. His fake image of “success” and “material goods” was just that, an image and it all fell apart. There was no equity in the home, no savings, taxes due, and more. Now in todays day and age anyone can do a quick internet search to look at property finances so that type of image is harder to hold, but that was before the internet existed.

I grew up, and even still today, I often hear similar stores from people. The stores are both from their child hoods or as adults. People spend, chase a material life, and try to put out some fake image of being successful or financially well-off. No one seems to be themselves these days.

You see countless stories in the press too. How many athletes go from having millions of dollars to blowing it all and filing bankruptcy? 70% of people who win the lottery go bankrupt. You see stories of doctors, real estate professional, financial advisors, and countless others living on the edge, trying to be flashy to put out an image and it eventually falls apart on them. Even everyday Americans with the latest TV or whatever.

I have never understood it. People are just not themselves. They try to be something they are not, and put out these fake images. And the fact is, for who? So they want to buy a new car to put in their driveway so their neighbors see it? Or buy a piece of jewelry to “parade” around town for strangers to see?

The fact is at the end of the day, no one cares. People have their own lives, priorities, goals, problems, etc. No one cares for more than one minute about their neighbor having a new car. They may make a comment then go back to their lives.

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