Until very recently I was pretty much immune to the urge of keeping up with Mr. & Mrs. Jones. We live in the Bay Area (Northern California), one of the most expensive areas in the country. People here drive fancy cars and live in multi million Dollar houses, but I didn't care. We rent our modest townhouse, and I stubbornly insist on driving my 10 year old, beat up, Geo Prizm.
So what changed? Last month my son started kindergarten, and while I couldn't care less about what people think of my car or my house, I have been having these nagging concerns that my lack of housing & driving "style" will influence the way that my son is received at school.
When I drop off my kid in the morning, the other parents arrive driving their shiny BMWs, Porches and Mercedes, next to which my dinged up junker looks even worse. Dropping off my son is the only place where I feel uncomfortable driving my old ride, but let's face it I am not going to spend tens of thousands of Dollars just to satisfy an irrational urge to keep up with the Joneses. However, I did make a few concessions to good taste: last weekend I replaced my cracked windshield, bought a new set of hubcaps for $24.95 (one of my old ones was missing), and even went the extra mile and bought new floor mats for the Geo. If I am going to drive this beat up old car for a few more years, I might as well drive one that looks slightly better kept.
The total cost for this cosmetic treatment: $300 including the windshield. Ouch. But a much smaller ouch than buying a new car... Still, the urge to upgrade is not gone. I bet other parents experience the same pressures. I would love hear any suggestions and feedback from people that had similar experiences. Do share.