Since 2012, I have tried hard to stop playing the status game. After all, leaving my job in banking meant losing status at age 34 when folks are usually coming into their own.
After my career was over, I turned down multiple TV show appearances, podcast interviews, and speaking gigs. To be able to just do my own thing felt incredibly freeing.
I wrote on Financial Samurai because I just wanted to write, not to gain fame. This is one of the reasons why I don’t have an Instagram account or post many pictures.
Sure, due to my lack of status and publicity, few people credit me with kickstarting the modern-day FIRE movement in 2009. Nor have I ever won any awards. But that’s OK. As a minority, being ignored is something I’m used to. I’ve got my archive of posts and that’s what matters.
Although it was jolting at first to be a nobody after 13 years of being a somebody, things got easier. Without status, I felt lighter. Without the desire for status, I could also do things for the pleasure of it, not for the accolades.
The joy of being a nobody became a way of life and I continued carefree until about 2019. Then something happened that made me realize I had better get some status back for the well-being of my family.
This post is for people who:
- Hate to play office politics
- Generally want to be left alone to do as they please
- Want to achieve financial independence but aren’t sure about the downsides
- Have children and want the best for them
- Sometimes take things too far and are looking to gain different perspectives
- Oddballs who tend to have unconventional thoughts, personalities, and tendencies
You Get Good At Having No Status
Just the other day while watching a tennis tournament, I had a 15-minute-long conversation with a fellow spectator at my private club. He was there as a guest, pitching coaches to sign up for his tennis app company.
During our “conversation,” I learned his name, his USTA rating, his record, how his doubles partner beat Cam Norrie (top 10 player) 6-1, 6-1 in college, where he went to high school, where he played in college, his title, and the company he worked for.
He just went on and on about his accomplishments. My friend, who was sitting next to me, said, “Wow! You should be a true crimes detective! You were able to extract his life’s story without him asking you a single thing!”
“That’s the power of being a nobody and looking like a schlub!” I responded.
If the tennis app company guy had known I was a member of the club, seen my VIP sponsor pass (hidden in my pocket), and known I ran this site, he might have asked me to introduce him to coaches and the president of the club. Then, he might have asked me to help promote his product online.
But by being a skilled nobody, I was able to control the conversation and maneuver back to focusing on the match when I wanted. This is precisely how I want things to be in the real world.
When The Need For Status Will Return
For seven years after renouncing my status as an employed person, I thought I would never have to play the status game again. I wasn’t going to look for a new job nor was I going to start a company and raise capital. Socially, I was set with my softball and tennis crew.
Eventually, I wanted to return to Oahu and become a fruit farmer who would surf every morning and read a great book every afternoon. A simple, healthy life is all I wanted.
Then in 2019 everything changed. Shunning status turned from being a selfless act to a selfish act. No longer could I afford to be a nobody because now I had dependents.
Our rude awakening occurred when my son got rejected from six preschools in 2019 and in 2020. We thought we’d get into at least two of the schools. But out of pride, I didn’t ask for recommendations from alumni parents I knew.
For occupation on the application form, I wrote I was a local high school tennis coach. I thought being a fellow teacher would be looked upon positively. The high school I coached for was a school some of these preschoolers would ultimately like to attend.
Further, I didn’t apply for financial aid, which meant I wouldn’t be taking away resources from a needy family.
Getting into preschool in San Francisco is 90% due to parents and 10% due to the children. The admissions committee always looks up what the prospective parents do. Some schools have playdates to determine whether the kids are mature enough at 2.5-3-years-old. But so long as the kid isn’t doing something terrible, the evaluation process isn’t that meaningful.
Admissions committees want parents to be techies, doctors, lawyers, bankers, or entrepreneurs. These are occupations with high status. They want parents with LinkedIn profiles and probably more to see what they are like socially.
By admitting families with status, such schools increase their chances for future donations and quality referrals. In any business, having a strong pipeline is vital.
Just so you are aware, unless you come from a low-income household, preschools are mostly private and require tuition.
When The Need For Status Became Crystal Clear
Getting rejected from six preschools wasn’t the end of the world because we ultimately got into one. But the main reason why we got into our neighborhood preschool was due to luck. And relying on luck is not a good strategy!
For one year, we kept running into a preschool teacher at our son’s school every week at the California Academy of Sciences. Eventually, we built up a relationship and he referred us to the admissions director, who was his wife!
Today, the preschool has a two-year waiting list.
What crystallized the need for status as a parent was when a local reader applied to preschools. I was giving her feedback and tips on the various schools to help her navigate through the cumbersome process.
Instead of getting into three out of six schools, as I had forecasted, she got into all the schools because of my great counseling! Not. Rather, she got in everywhere because she has high status. She was part of the elite.
If each school has a <5% acceptance rate, getting into all six is practically impossible. Further, a couple of the schools even have “lottery systems,” which are supposedly used to make admissions 100% unbiased.
But when these lottery winners all tend to be extremely wealthy with high status, it’s clear the lottery system is rigged. The admissions directors will manually move you up the lottery board if they find out you are rich and powerful.
Being Rich Is Only One Part Of Having High Status
The rich continue to play the status game because there are plenty of rich people. In fact, there are literally millions of millionaires! Roughly 35% of Financial Samurai readers are millionaires compared to just 8% of Americans.
These preschools can fill their classrooms 10X over with kids of rich parents. Therefore, being rich is no longer good enough for getting your toddler into school. You’ve got to be rich and have a “positive impact” in the world.
Sadly, being a high school tennis teacher didn’t cut it. But you should have seen the joy on this one kid’s face who clinched the deciding match.
“Positive impact” is subjective. You could be seen as having a positive impact by being a VP at a sugary drinks company that contributes to the diabetes epidemic. You could also be seen as having a positive impact by being a Director at a company that gets kids hooked on social media.
What’s most important for status is that you are searchable online. Having a LinkedIn profile is the most obvious.
The more positive references about you there are online, the higher status you will achieve. Because it’s one thing to tell the world how great you are. It’s another thing when someone else tells how great you are.
Parents Have To Care More About Who They Are
No matter what path a parent takes, it’s easy to worry about whether we are doing enough to support our children. Every parent wants to provide the most opportunities possible for their children to find purpose and happiness. You might have fulfilled your dreams as an adult, but your kids surely haven’t!
For the longest time, one of my biggest worries was whether I was too lackadaisical about my attitude on status and prestige. I haven’t cared about titles or where one works for over a decade. While I sometimes find it interesting to hear parents talk about their promotions during playdates, I do so because I’m trying to be a good listener.
I also no longer think where you go to college matters. After all, everything can be learned online for free or at a low cost. You can spend $20 bucks and read an incredible book about any subject matter.
In fact, I question why a college education still takes four years to complete and costs so much when the internet has accelerated learning and lowered prices.
My Views On Status Have Changed With More Exposure
But now that I’ve gone to dozens of playdates and school events, I realize I need to change my views on status. As a parent, I’m sucked back into the real world of commuting during rush hour and socializing with other parents who are mostly working.
Too bad there is no status for not having to work! Having F You Money is nice because status no longer matters for you. But you still need status for your kids.
As kids grow older, they need status more because that’s mainly all they have in school. They want to be perceived as smart, athletic, talented, charismatic, and popular. Kids also want to be proud of what their parents do.
If parents don’t play the status game, they end up lowering their child’s status in school. If their child’s status is too low, he or she might get picked on or bullied by other children. They might also get left out of birthday parties and other social events for not having enough status. How shallow and sad!
But let’s recognize reality. The desire for status is one of the reasons why there is so much anxiety in middle school and high school. Think back to your time as a teenager when you felt so much peer pressure.
If parents can at least not embarrass their kids by not driving them to school in a beater, dressing well, staying fit, and staying out of sight when friends are around, we might make our kids proud of us. Again, how sad.
Related: How To Convince People You Are Middle Class When You’re Actually Rich
Ideal Level Of Status To Have
After getting rejected by six out of seven preschools, my wife and I are forced to elevate our status to a “minimum acceptable level” so our family is not shunned by society. On a scale of 0-10, with 0 being no status, we’ve decided to elevate ourselves to a 5 from a 2.
I believe anywhere between a 4-to-6 out of 10 on the status scale is ideal. As the Buddha advises, “Find the middle path.”
If your status gets to an 8-10, you’ll constantly be asked to give money and speak. Then you’ll have to constantly acquiesce or have to tell people no, which never feels good. Rejecting others may make you look like an a-hole, even though you’re not.
The main goal is to have enough status so you and your family aren’t excluded from any opportunities. Nobody likes being left out.
Minimum Acceptable Level Of Status Regained!
After thinking deeply about how to better play the status game, I found a solution. Originally, I thought just telling people we are investors would suffice. But being an investor invites all sorts of judgement and questions about how to make money.
I now just tell parents who inquire what I do that I’m an author. And if they dig further, I’ll tell them about Buy This, Not That. And if they dig even further, I’ll say that it is a Wall Street Journal bestseller.
For those parents who dig this far, I can see their eyes light up. Status unlocked!
Though most authors make a low income, which is exactly what I want people to think, parents are hard-pressed to meet published authors in the wild. After all, less than 3% of writers are able to land a book deal with a reputable publisher, let alone get on a national bestseller list. Therefore, authors who actually have their books in bookstores are somewhat of a unicorn.
Further, educators are usually respected members of society, especially those who live in expensive cities. There’s non-stop media coverage about a housing affordability crisis in San Francisco. As a result, if you are a writer, artist, musician, or teacher, society tends to root for you.
Relate: The Unhealthy Pursuit Of Prestige Is Ruining Your Life
Don’t Want To Be Respected For Being Rich
You don’t want to be respected for being rich. If you are respected for being rich, you attract people who just want a piece of your money or are envious.
In fact, there comes a point where society starts to despise you for being too rich. Why are you hoarding a billion dollars when you could shelter all the homeless in your city? Why not be more like Mackenzie Scott, actively and rapidly giving away her billions? There are obvious, urgent problems today that could use support now, not after we are gone.
Instead of being known as rich, you would much rather be respected for making a positive contribution to society. Of course, becoming rich is often a result of making a positive impact. But if you get too rich, people sometimes forget or have a hard time making this correlation.
Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard once said, “I was in Forbes magazine listed as a billionaire, which really, really pissed me off,” he said. “I don’t have $1 billion in the bank. I don’t drive Lexuses.”
Mr. Chouinard lived true to his values and donated his family’s entire ~$3 billion stake in Patagonia to charity in September 2022.
May We One Day Be Free From Caring What Others Think
The ultimate goal is to transcend the need for status because you no longer care what other people think. Nobody can block what you do either. You’re good just the way you are. Everything you wear, drive, say, and do is true to your values, not because you want others to look at you more favorably.
Of course, this is much easier said than done because all of us want to have at least a little bit of status and respect. On the sidebar of this site, I highlight where Financial Samurai has been featured to gain some credibility. I’m sure just writing this post will invite criticism and judgement.
However, once you have children, you will ultimately have to come back to the center in order to give them opportunities. The only way out of the status game may be to homeschool your children. But even then, there are still after-school activities with other families.
Eventually, our children will develop strong enough identities to lead independent lives. Their need to tell the world where they went to school, how much they make, or how fabulous their lives are over social media will fade.
But if my observations are correct, it may take decades to figure out how much status is truly enough. And even then, the status amount required is forever changing, similar to the safe withdrawal rate one needs in retirement.
Easiest Way To Increase Your Status
After not having a day job since 2012, I realized I forgot appearance matters. If you don’t have to see colleagues or clients for meetings, you can wear whatever you want. As a result, it’s easy to let yourself go instead of always looking like a million bucks.
Hence, the easiest way to increase status is to dress well. Wear well-fitted, clean clothes! It’s time for me to stop looking like a schlub in public. My shoes with holes, frayed baseball caps, and jackets with paint stains have got to go!
Another way to increase your status is to stay fit. Rightly or wrongly, people will judge you partly based on your fitness. Besides, the fitter you are, the better you’re going to look in your clothes.
The final way to increase your status is to make sure your LinkedIn profile and other social media platforms display a professional you. Upload the best picture of you and fill out your accomplishments.
Image matters whether you believe it or not. No matter your level of financial independence, if you have children depending on you, having a minimal amount of status matters.
Related: The Negative Of Early Retirement Nobody Likes Talking About
Reader Questions And Action Items
Readers, how is your relationship with status? What do you think is the ideal amount of status on a scale of 1-10 and why? Is it possible to stop playing the status game as parents? What are other ways to build status without being obnoxious? If you would like to leave a critical and judgmental comment, please also share your background and whether you have children.
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Great piece. I used to be well known (not famous). I stepped back a few years ago to concentrate on stealth wealth building. 3 kids later and my eldest 8 year old son can’t understand why I’m not well known anymore. I now feel I could have done a disservice to them when I consciously made the decision to withdraw. I used to think it was a selfish pursuit to chase fame or status and now can see it could perhaps be selfish not to. I have private medical insurance BUT I have absolutely experienced how having higher status/being famous/being a known person could have greatly helped during family medical emergencies. Very interesting topic
“As a minority, being ignored is something I’m used to. I’ve got my archive of posts and that’s what matters.”
Fame is not earned, it is granted by the kingmakers.
I’ll go with your question, “Is it possible to ever stop playing the status game as a parent”. – The answer to this goes back to the origination of your website, Sam. FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE. If your children ever reach financial independence then you can, once and for all, quit the status game.
I look at guys like Donald Trump (don’t worry, this isn’t political). Part of the reason people like that keep working is because his children rely on his business for their livelihood. You think real estate moguls would do business with his kids if he wasn’t still “in the game”? It’s a catch 22 – If your kids follow in your footsteps and rely on your business and reputation to earn a living, you probably can NEVER GET OUT. On the other hand, if you just decide to give them all the money they need so that you can get off the grid, you risk ruining them with money they didn’t earn.
This subject warrants more discussion, Sam.
Financial Samurai says
So maybe in 30 or 40 years? Seems like a reasonable time., And then I will be close to the end of life.
How did you stop playing the status game? And what do your children do? Do they feel societal pressure to conform?
I’m a little older than you, so my children are now grown. They grew up in a small town as the “teacher’s kids” so I guess there was some type of status they benefited from. But not enough to follow in my footsteps. LOL! One moved to NYC (in your former line of work), the other is in the Bay Area working on a doctorate.
I would say my current status (in the world I live in) is in the 6-8 range. But again, my kids chose a different route/world to live in. In NYC or the Bay Area, my status clout is around the 2-3 range, or less. LOL
So, I guess I’m now free of having to deal with the status game. But you bring up a good point. For those of us who end up with kids who fail to launch, or kids who stay in trouble, then those parents will forever need status to help their children out.
That’s why the best thing we can do for our children is to teach them how to stand on their own two feet. (just like you did)
Sam, not having to work a day job is the best status! I am not surprised about how rigged the preschool / education system is. I’m glad that your son eventually got into a school of choice.
I had a very rich friend who had hundreds of Mil net worth, and he used to dress like a bum and still does. His socks would always have holes in them, and he would always wear the same few T-shirt’s. He didn’t really care how he looked to others. Most people assumed that he was a bum or a poor dude.
In cities like SF and LA, you can play a non stop game of “billionaire or homeless” when people watching …honestly can be hard to tell. Usually there will be some small “tell” that gives away the billionaire…but not always.
Is this a consequence of the “famous for being famous” phenomena, occupying a large part of the media?
What a messed up world that a person needs status to get their kids in a glorified daycare, I mean preschool. I get it, I just find it ridiculous.
Financial Samurai says
That’s just the way things are in bigger cities. Hypercompetition because the highest paying jobs with the most opportunity are usually concentrated.
But if you can survive here maybe you can thrive anywhere.
Nothing is that big of a deal. If you enjoy competition; the city is for you!
Reesh Czhaos says
Ideal status level: 2
Have 0 Kids
Shower every other day
Wear solid color tshirts changed daily
Have no LinkedIn or Social Media
Jeff VA says
Btw, Sam, any thoughts on making the comment sections on your site more interactive? Whether it’s adding a “like” button, expanding/collapsing threads, or you highlighting a comment for more visibility, etc.
Didn’t know where else to put this comment so posting it here.
Financial Samurai says
Don’t want to mess what’s working. Too easy to break things and lose things.
What comment section do you suggest I use?
Will From Buffalo says
ehh….I challenge this as a cop out. Improving user experience through more engagement is always worthwhile, especially when your 35% of your core users are millionaires. The value of your advertising revenue and any potential upsells you have down the road relies on how close they are to you…and the comments section reinforces that.
Also….its a great way to gauge YOUR users sentiments….all the sudden 1 comment get a ton of upvotes or downvotes…and you found a potential topic to write about.
It’s fine to say “I don’t have the bandwidth now….but its something to consider”.
But saying “Too easy to break things and lose things” is REALLY you saying “I feel spread thin, this might be a good idea but I need to make up a flimsy story to tell myself to get it off my plate.”
We all need to be wary of the stories we tell ourselves…..MYSELF especially. I just happened to be caught by this natural moment….not trying to throw shade or anything.
Financial Samurai says
Thank you for your thoughts. What comment system do you recommend I use? I didn’t realize the value of online revenue and upsells depends on how close you are to me. Have you ever bought anything on this site?
I really just enjoy writing and reading comments relevant to the topic at hand. Sounds like you run to website as well. I’d love to check it out.
I’ve actually thought about shutting down the comments section completely due to the number of spam and the time it takes to moderate. It would save time and simplify life as well. Here’s an article why: https://www.kqed.org/lowdown/29720/no-comment-why-a-growing-number-of-news-sites-are-dumping-their-comment-sections
What is it that you do for a living? And what are your thoughts about playing the status game? Thx
I am impressed you take time to respond to people. 99% of writers do not. And then to respond to comments that are off topic and abrasive is something else.
Although most comments are good, You really could cut down a lot of time and energy if you just remove the comments section completely. I’ve noticed that with many websites.
As for the status game, it does seem the main variable is the whether one has a job or not. And if one doesn’t have a job, to make one up!
There are “trust fund jobs” were rich people just say they are working on XYZ business as the CEO or whatever when they know that there is no potential for success.
You must be really fun at parties. How about contributing to the conversation?
Simple Money Man says
I’ve learned you can increase status by:
1. Being helpful and adding value
2. Dressing the part/better
3. Staying in shape
5. Being consistent
Interesting article, Sam. We have grown children, and status did definitely play a role in raising them. While we were not helicopter parents, nor status seekers, our connections did make a difference for our kids in their career paths. When mom/dad have friends at church who work or have connections in the chosen fields kids are studying in college, it can open doors to internships. And internships open doors to jobs after graduation. I think many parents do this.
Another thought I had was that we were of the mind set that smart people are needed in every field, in every area of the country, and that our state’s flagship university would provide what our kids would need to have a good education and life after. Not everyone has to chase after the Ivy League. Today our kids are both respected professionals in their fields and they have good lives. We are proud of them.
Finally, your article brought back memories of when our kids were young, and where we lived everyone sent their kids to preschool at age 2-3. I still remember hubby waiting in line at 3am for a slot at a good school near our house, and the person in line after him got the last slot. It was crazy! We lived in the Washington, DC corridor at the time and our Midwest friends could not relate to this. So, I get what you said about trying to get your kids into a good preschool.
Financial Samurai says
Ah, good to hear DC had/has the same high demand! But at least you could line up and take action. Here, it’s like the “spray and pray” strategy.
“ When mom/dad have friends at church who work or have connections in the chosen fields kids are studying in college, it can open doors to internships. And internships open doors to jobs after graduation. I think many parents do this.”
Yes indeed. And if you don’t have a job, you don’t have that job network in your industry to develop relationships. Most people in their 40s and beyond become senior people and their firms. And as a result, their power and net work grows, which means more opportunities for their children.
Building relationships with other parents at school helps. But if you have that status at a firm and work with them for hours every single day, those relationships are stronger. This lack of a Network is some thing I should include in my negatives of early retirement post. Thanks for the reminder!
This is an excellent post and one that I think most people (myself included) are guarded about expressing. Let’s be honest, most of us here are atypical in that we don’t spend our money on instant gratification items that many of our peers do or have done. This puts us in a great position to have a leg up on wealth – I am one of those that is way beyond peers in terms of wealth and have been practicing a “stealth wealth” lifestyle – not necessarily because I want to, but because it is routine and what has gotten me to this point.
HOWEVER – now that I have kids entering the school district, I do feel the pressure a bit. Unlike Sam, I am in a nice but pretty middle of the road major metro school district, but still feel it. Even in elementary school, with very nice and normal parents, there is some level of “what do you do” from the school and peers. I’d like to think that it wouldn’t influence my children’s path, but am realizing that it does more than I thought when we were DINKs focusing on ourselves and our happiness vs. our kids.
I do think the school situation that Sam describes seems crazy and that the social situation likely is magnified by that aspect. But I have been feeling it in boring suburbia as well to a small degree.
– Signed, a parent of a 1st grader that was thinking about early retirement but reconsidering for some of these same reasons.
Financial Samurai says
Cities like San Francisco and New York Are HYPER competitive, So if you don’t have a day job with seniority that corresponds with your age, you are at a disadvantage.
So to stay here in San Francisco after living my day job in 2012 and then have young children is somewhat of an anomaly. I do believe our lifestyle would fit better and be better in Honolulu Hawaii.
The longer I’m away from Honolulu, the more I think I might regret this decision. I already have some regrets not taking down this one property in 2019 with a pool and close to the beach. We would have totally stayed in Hawaii during the pandemic and I could’ve seen and taken care of my parents every single week.
No matter how much we try to extricate ourselves from society, if we have children, we are forced back into society with the daily commute and school events. It’s just the way it is. You can’t help but feel some peer pressure once you start seeing people. So I think coming back to the center in terms of status makes sense.
why don’t you make something up? Who is checking? And who cares at the end of the day? People attention span is extremely short. You could be a hedge fund manager of let’s say, SPARTACUS Hi Tech Private fund. Investment is by invitation only that’s why you have never heard of it… :-)
Eric in San Diego says
Hi Sam, I can share a few nuggets from my experience with status that may resonate. Spoiler alert: status should be effortless and self evident otherwise you are the fool chasing it. I’ll list my ideas as a few bullets so it’s easy to “take it or leave it.”
– It’s better to say nothing and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. My dad would say this old saw sometimes and I always took it as “don’t be a blabbermouth know it all,” which indeed is a pearl of wisdom! But I learned over time that there’s more to it than that because the benefits of high status are far greater when discovered by others rather than volunteered by you. Think how much more you respect someone with quiet confidence vs a talented showboat. The showboat may be fun to watch, but the quiet guy likely has more wisdom to share and would be a better friend.
– How you perceive yourself has much to do with others’ perceived status of you. For instance, my wife used to feel inferior around other full time stay at home moms because “working mommies” were the exception in our relatively upscale neighborhood. That would break my heart because I had hopes for her to feel very proud of herself for so successfully “doing it all” as anyone that cared to look came away with great admiration for her….really! This came to mind when I read the part about Sam being an Asian minority in the Bay Area. So what? I don’t think I’m alone when I hear “Asian in the Bay Area” as more than likely being a successful, driven, family oriented individual. Stereotypes cut both ways, so why not focus on the positive when you can? That’s better for your self esteem while simultaneously increasing the chances that others will see you as you see yourself.
– Status is much better when a by-product of your self actualization. Chasing status for any other reason is either sad because you crave outward validation to feel good about yourself or a strategy to parlay it into something else. The latter works great if you’re a Kardashian transforming fame into fortune or using perceived high status to gain advantage for your kids, but I think it’s very important for one’s happiness to know status as only a perk of successfully doing what you love to do and/or a tool to get you closer to such self actualization. Anything else has you chasing something outside yourself for the wrong reasons. I think this sentiment is in the subtext of your piece Sam so I’m hoping that pointing it out might be useful to others.
Financial Samurai says
I agree with all your points. It is more powerful to listen learn to speak.
And it feels Way better to do what you love and let status be the byproduct.
In terms of stereotypes as a minority, there are stereotypes everywhere. But what I share with you regarding being ignored more or not give credit where credits is deserved is true. I just recognize things are the way they are and keep going.
It’s not a Bay Area thing as much as an internet thing. But the great thing about the Internet is that it’s more meritocratic. Your online business’s traffic and revenue is highly correlated with effort and talent.
Jeff VA says
The guy who told you his life’s achievement sadly reminded me of why I had to cut ties with one of my childhood friends recently. I knew him for several decades, but I couldn’t bare meeting and conversing with him anymore because everything was about status and one upping others. Whenever I had an achievement, he would share a story to one-up it. Whenever I went on vacations, he would tell me how he was planning a vacation to, to somewhere more exotic. I mean the list goes on. It got so tiring and I realized that I no longer felt good 90% of the time after meeting or conversing with him. We talked about how his competitiveness is driving a wedge between us and we had a great conversation to understand each other better, but I guess old habits die hard.
Sorry. Just needed to vent a bit. I miss him actually, but I’m also glad I made the decision to drift away from him. I also recognize that when relationships fail, it’s seldom due to only one person so I likely played a role in it too.
Anyway, back on topic. I think having status is important because it’ll build up your confidence, but I think it’s more important to learn not to undermine others or put people on a pedestal because of their status. It’s hard to do, but I feel like getting there mentally is also freeing.
Financial Samurai says
Thanks for sharing. Sorry the relationship got to that point. I wonder what is causing your friend to be so insecure as to always try and one up you? Hass to be some route that needs to be addressed because friends won’t continue to make their friends feel bad, especially after telling them the issue.
There’s this one guy at my club you have to be on top. I entered the club and told the front desk we had just won the 4.5 city championship. And this guy, who was hiding in the back, pops out and immediately says, “We just won the city 5.0 championship!!
No congratulations or anything. The funny thing is, a week later, they lost because one of their players got disqualified. When you game the system with recruits, you sometimes lose.
Living life on hard mode is tougher. But it’s also more rewarding if you can get through the muck.
Jeff VA says
It’s like a tick with one-uppers. They just have to get it out…lol
Hi Sam, great observations.
Modern society is so tough when you need status to break into early education. Then later, you probably need to be well connected for access to a prestigious school b/c there are more academically qualified applicants than there are spots.
My husband works in finance and I work in healthcare. We have little social media presence and aren’t concerned with perceived status. Now that we have a 1.5 yr old child, i’ve had a few brushes w/ pre school application. Guess we gotta step up our appearances like you mentioned.
“If you have children depending on you, having a minimal amount of status matters.” Likely true. So there’s another reason not to have kids….keeping stealth wealth truly stealthy.
I just want to say I love the podcast and would probably even pay money for it. The problem with asking for reviews, is that you can only really review it once. But I listen to every episode. I already gave you five stars with a review on Apple Podcasts.
Wow Sam, I can’t even believe the preschools in San Fran are that competitive. What happens to the kids who aren’t able to get into a school? Homeschooled? There is none of that here in Tennessee, but I am certainly glad you were able to get into a school!
Financial Samurai says
Yeah, supply / demand imbalance. I decided to apply to the top schools since the application fee is the same. But there are other schools that are easier to get into. But their facilities are not as nice. Less space, old, etc.
Really resonated with this article. Thank you for the work you put out.
I am also used to being ignored for being a minority and job free. Might be time to get nice clothing!
Financial Samurai says
Nicer clothing to look more powerful, richer, confident, and put together is an easy fix!
I’ve just been so comfortable wearing comfortable clothing that I need to do some adjustments. I also need to go to professional to cut my hair more often now.
Precovid whenever I met someone new, the first question everyone always led with was “what do you do?” I got used to it but it became really annoying. I don’t know if it’s because of my age, a change in times, or just a different group of people I’m getting to know, but I no longer get asked that anymore. It’s refreshing to meet someone and talk about shared interests first and not even have work stuff come up.
Having a certain status is a very common social issue that most people don’t even realize is being shoved in our faces all the time. Just look at social media. It’s all built around showing off status. I gave up social media more than a decade ago and don’t miss it one bit.
Your status concerns seem like top 1% problems. Most people don’t worry about making sure their kids fit in with the richest kids in luxury private schools in one of the richest cities in the world. You might be overdue for a privilege check; even if you cut yourself a bunch of slack, you’d still be in the top 10% of parent tryhards, I’m guessing. Having a lot of money probably makes that hard to avoid.
It might have been mild autism on my part, but I never had concerns like you’re raising when I was a kid. I didn’t even realize my family was barely on the bottom rung of “middle class” until I was helping my dad with online tax filing tech support. It was only seeing his numbers with the context of my own post-college income that connected the dots and helped me realize we were relatively poor and frugal. Despite that, all of the kids turned out fine and have comfy lives that exceed what our parents had at a similar phase of life.
Financial Samurai says
For sure. A privilege check is exactly one of the reasons why I write these type of posts. No matter how much I want to be a nobody I’m realizing it may be selfish if you have kids.
BTW, unless you come from low income housing, all preschools here are private and have a fee.
I think you have a lot of self-confidence, which is great. The more self-confident you are, the more you don’t care what other people think. But alas, not everybody has this level of self-confidence, especially as teenagers.
How many kids do you have? And how have they been able to navigate school? How have they been able to feel so self-confident in who they are? Maybe a large part of it is genetic? I’m not sure.
As a “parent tryhard” as you say, what would you recommend parents do to try less hard? It’s against my nature to not try hard, so all perspectives welcome!
Generally, people who make fun of parents trying hard don’t have kids. They are unable to comprehend the effort and emotions required to take care of kids.
I’ll happily bet your a beer Mark is single with no kids. He definitely doesn’t live in a big city because he’d understand the cost of childcare. I’m even willing to bet an appetizer he doesn’t earn more than $100,000 a year.
Status is important! To say the need for status is a top 1% problem is ignorant to the way society works. In fact, the less money you have, the more status you may need for equal opportunities.
Financial Samurai says
But why would people lay judgment on things they have no experience on? That would make no sense.
Like me telling him what to do when I’m not in his shoes.
Yup, no kids here. I did earn more than $100k/year briefly though, but I scaled back my working because I didn’t care for the taxes. It also seemed silly to be earning more than 2x what my parents made (raising 4 kids) just for myself. I’m enjoying a more relaxed part time job now.
I understand the hesitance to send kids to public (government) schools. If I had kids, I’d be inclined to homeschool or send them to a private school too. Having your kids associating with the bottom 50%’ers, or being at the mercy of government indoctrinators, can’t feel too good as a parent who wants the best for them. I can’t really say anything good about my public school experience as a kid, but it also wasn’t debilitating for me either, fortunately.
Sam, regarding the trying hard, it’s probably a good thing. As a high-income parent with a more flexible schedule than most, you’re likely to have a more positive impact on your kids’ lives than a typical parent regardless of how much effort you think you’re putting in. Most parents spend less time with their kids than the government employees educating them, which is a shame. But maybe consider what it might be like for your kids when they grow up. You’ve set a very high bar for them to try and surpass when they become adults! But as long as you avoid the “helicopter parenting” thing, it’s probably all good.
But your status as a parent affecting your children probably isn’t a thing to worry about. Even without trying, your status is far in excess of most parents, and your kids are certain to have far more than their fair share of opportunity available to them, even though you have identified a deficit compared to the top 1% folks you typically associate with.
Financial Samurai says
Despite not having children, I appreciate your parenting advice. I will try less hard to parent. Could free up a lot of time.
How would you suggest I send my kids to city-subsidized preschool when they have a maximum income requirement threshold? I feel bad gaming the system to take advantage of subsidies I don’t need.
Also, “ You’ve set a very high bar for them to try and surpass when they become adults!” What exactly is that bar and have I given the impression my kids must surpass this bar?
I know being a professional writer is not easy, nor does it pay well. But they can try if they wish. They are also free to do whatever brings them Joy and are good at. I will support them.
Maybe I’m misguided in my hope that both my children find someone they love to spend time with. And there is a joy of remaining single. I just haven’t been single since 18, so it’s hard for me to adjust.
Please keep shining a bright light on my blindspots. Thanks!
Good to know my instincts were spot on.
Just a tip. The reason why you might be still single is because of a lack of communication skills. A regular person would either say nothing or appreciate this discussion, not go on the offensive.
You come across as very judge mental and an unpleasant person to talk to.
But I’m not sure if you can see that in yourself, which is the biggest problem. If you have issues with your parents, I would try and work it out with them.
You are an interesting person. Although you are Warren, I invite you to a two hour lunch and a restaurant of your life. Bring the wife.
Financial Samurai says
Thanks Bob. I hope you have overcome your depression and are living it up more! There’s no point having money if we don’t spend it.
Thank you for recognizing your autism. It is also good for you that you recognize it. I have been studying people with autism for the past 20 years and your comment is a really good example of how it can be hard to be empathetic and aware of how one’s response comes across.
I am also interested in knowing whether you have children and how you were able to overcome the insecurities as a child. If you could share what you do for a living now, I would really appreciate it as well.
I think a frank conversation about status and the pursuit of status is wonderful. I admit I wanted to get into the best school possible for status and getting a better job. Today, I wouldn’t mind having the status of running the department.
Before reading this post, I never thought about having status for my kids because I don’t have any yet. Eye opening!
You missed the point of his article. He’s not trying to make his kids “fit in” with the Joneses. Nor is Sam out of touch with reality and dealing with only 1% problems. He’s actually very in tune with the harsh realities of our ultra competitive society.
He’s also looking out for the best interests of his children’s education and wants to give them an equal opportunity in a world of unfair advantages, rigged systems, and discrimination.
If you don’t have kids this can be hard to understand.
>wants to give them an equal opportunity in a world of unfair advantages, rigged systems, and discrimination
Sam’s status is pretty immense compared to the average person in terms of income, wealth, fame, general ability to be a successful guy; his kids are already guaranteed to have more than their fair share of opportunities by virtue of having Sam as a dad (and living in one of the richest cities in the world, natively learning English, having Internet access, etc.).
When you’re middle class or better in the US, most of those unfair advantages and rigged systems are working in your favor compared to a poor kid in Africa, for example.