Conspicuous consumption - Have you fallen into the trap?

11 Feb 2021

We all like to brag with a new toy, gadget, or car. We won’t always admit it, but we buy these goods to show off a bit. As expats in Zimbabwe, these status symbols show that we are well off and ‘have arrived’. And why shouldn’t we? We have worked very hard to achieve our success and deserve to have the best. We call this conspicuous consumption.

Conspicuous consumption is the purchase of goods or services for the specific purpose of displaying one's wealth.  It is a means to show one's social status, especially when the goods and services publicly displayed are too expensive for other members of a person's class. *

This concept originated with the industrial revolution when the emerging middle class had more disposable income to spend on goods.

But it is not just about buying the best item in its class e.g. the latest smart phone, or newest sports car. Too many have the latest of everything and we need to step up to be noticed. It has evolved into exclusivity. The now seemingly boring status symbol of the latest product has evolved into special, limited or ‘one of a kind’ editions. 

The latest iPhone is no longer a unique product, now we need to have its casing made from titanium or encrusted with diamonds. The Mercedes S-Class needs to be a limited edition with 18-carat gold trimming on the dashboard.

This does sound very glamorous indeed, but at what cost? Where does it end? Conspicuous consumption has caused many a downfall for expats abroad. If you can afford it, then by all means continue, but overspending to impress is asking for trouble. 

If you answer yes to these questions, then your finances are potentially in trouble and could be on the verge of a major meltdown.

  • Are you always on the net searching for the latest trendy products and services?
  • Are you constantly comparing your lifestyle in Zimbabwe to those of your colleagues?
  • Do you use your credit cards to buy luxury items you can’t otherwise afford?
  • Do you go shopping first and then try to fit the budget into whatever remains?
  • Are you postponing saving for retirement because you never have money?

Seek the advice of your deVere financial adviser to help you get your finances back on track. [email protected]

Please note, the above is for education purposes only and does not constitute advice. You should always contact your deVere adviser for a personal consultation.
* No liability can be accepted for any actions taken or refrained from being taken, as a result of reading the above.