Hello Modest Money readers! My name is Erika, and I run the blog From Shopping to Saving where I talk about personal finance from the perspective of a 24-year-old former shopaholic who struggled with the of idea not filling her shopping cart with expensive regular or sale items. We get deep over there and talk about saving, shopping (or lack thereof), condo hunting, and more. Click at your own risk!
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to escape my usual 9-to-5 reality and step into the world of housewives, 12-year-old girls’ volleyball, and Lululemon. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I wanted to be there for my little sister since my parents weren’t able to make it and the National Junior Qualifiers Volleyball Tournament was such a huge event for her.
Appearance Is Everything?
As I walked into Olive Garden to meet up with the group for the first time, I immediately felt under-dressed. No one told me you had to dress up to go to Olive Garden on a Thursday night, and I had just gotten off of work so I was wearing my usual uniform of leggings, a casual tee and boots. If I work as middle management and earn respect in the workplace in these clothes, why didn’t I feel as confident wearing these clothes with a bunch of volleyball moms?
“Do you go to school in San Diego?” was one of the first questions that one of the moms asked me. I have no idea why this question makes me feel inadequate but it only added to my insecurity even more. Then, the waiter told me that I was “too young” for a glass of wine and simply skipped over me as he was pouring samples for everyone. I had to explain to everyone that I had just gotten off of work, but this further required more explanation as to what I did (and why I was dressed like that). I know most people that work in respectable positions dress up for work, but at our company we are very lucky not to. I am happy that I get to spend my money on regular clothes and not on dry cleaning and business suits, but for all they knew…I was just a poor student based on what I was wearing.
I don’t understand how people can judge each other based on the type of clothes he or she is wearing. If you look at billionaires, sometimes you may not know just how much cash that person is rolling in. Yet, as I thought about it some more, I was judging them as well. All of these women were in fantastic shape and were dressed to the nines, sporting Chanel bags, trendy boots, sky high wedges, and Lululemon clothing- dresses, tops, skirts and all that jazz. If they were able to pay for this expensive volleyball club for their daughters and all of these expensive items, then they must be rich and snobby right?
As I got to know the women during the 3-day tournament, I realized that there was much more to them than what the surface presented, and they got to know me too. I still wore my comfy yoga pants and no-name workout tops, but the insecurity that I felt that first night completely disappeared. This experience taught me that you shouldn’t be ashamed of living modestly and living within your means.
What I could have done was take money out of my condo down payment savings fund, and run to the nearest Lululemon shop to buy myself a cute outfit to match all of the women. Would I have felt better about myself? Maybe. But it wouldn’t have done any good for my savings goals or for forming friendships. What I decided to do was be myself, share my personality and find other ways to relate to them, which benefited us all since we formed new and genuine friendships that weren’t fostered on false impressions.
Be Proud To Live Modestly
Don’t be afraid to be proud of the progress you are making whether you are saving for something, paying off debt, or just simply being frugal. Everyone has to start somewhere, and these women most likely began at the same starting point as well. That’s what makes personal finance unique, because we all have a different goal for ourselves and we all have a different way of getting there. Everything will be worth it and you may just be on the other side one day judging someone else because they look like a poor college student.