I agree with you 100%--and think it's just an important piece of how you are perceived in a professional setting.njboater74 wrote:I understand what you're saying. Although I don't think your issue is really a 'keep up with the joneses' as much as it is a 'keep up appearances that are expected for you professsion'.
It's important for you to think pragmatically the way you are. You obviously don't like spending, and don't feel the need to own expensive purses and cars that have little utility value.
At the same time, you're an associate in a large law firm. The firm may expect you to dress and drive a certain way. I don't know the politics of the legal world, and whether this could legitimately jeopardize your chances for advancement. I work in sales, and it is expected that I show up in quality suits and a nice car. I've worked with people who didn't, and the whispering started.
I try and limit my luxury spending to just what will keep me from attracting the wrong sort of attention at work. It may sound superficial, but it's just the way it is. Sometimes you have to wear a uniform. Chalk it up to a business expense.
Like it or not, your dress, your vehicle, your physical condition, your age, your mannerisms... these all craft how you are perceived in a professional setting. Is it fair? No! But perception is a powerful thing.
Just to add in--I work in IT, and I've seen the reverse of the high-end purchase come into play. Meaning, a guy drives his wife's Lexus to work (normally he drives a modest commuter car), and his (and my) boss jokes "I guess we pay him too much." It's all in fun, but I was left wondering if that was, in fact, my boss's perception.
Another guy--early 30s, single with no kids--buys expensive cars, and is generally considered to be young and unwise when it comes to finances.
We humans are a complex, intuitive bunch. We observe appearances and come up with judgments. And Bogleheads are not immune; they just may come up with a different conclusion when they see a co-worker who makes six figures driving a 12-year-old Toyota to work (he's smart, probably worth millions!).
If it were me, I'd probably pick the car and the clothing that crafted the perception I was looking for, and then buy them responsibly.