I have been working at corporations for a decade and a half now. The thing about working at corporations is that there is a clear hierarchy/ladder. Going up the ladder could mean higher income = higher savings rate = faster FI/ER. But the ladder comes with its own pressures, politics and assholes.
As I gingerly tread this ladder, I find there are certain things about it that makes the journey particularly challenging for a non-consumer like me. I am wondering what the experiences of others here are, as we try to fit-in until FI/ER.
The higher up one is, the greater the desire to wear clothes that flaunt it. Expensive shirts, brand-name suits, high-street shoes, black-tie affairs. I am trying to manage this one by making a small investment in decent clothes that I can mix-and-match as needed. I also sometimes borrow my boyfriend's clothes (luckily we are both the same size, except shoes). Bicycling or walking long distances while dressed-up is a problem. I have managed this by leaving a blazer at work. Sometimes I've taken a taxi when I have to arrive dressed.
How does one participate in a debate on which feature in which automobile model is a must-have, when one does not even have a car? I couldn't care less if it is a BMW or a Ferrari or a Toyota. To me they all provide the same utility. The last and only car I had was an old Ford that I purchased used, ran at minimal cost for 4 years before I selling it and moving out of the country. My colleagues (obviously all men) can discuss cars they have and want for hours on end - engines, entertainment options, 2012 vs. 2011, seats, upholstery, mileage, acceleration, insurance, you name it. I resist asking questions, lest they realize how clueless I am. Most assume I have a car. My immediate peers and boss (who has three cars himself) who do know, don't quite understand why I wouldn't want a car - but luckily being green is in vogue and that has been a good excuse.
Apologies in advance to the aficionados on here, but I have zero appreciation for "fine" whiskey/cognac/calvados/wine/beer/water. They all more or less taste the same to me. I get to sit through company-paid dinners where people order drinks at €200 a glass. Should I take a wine tasting class? While I occasionally enjoy wine with a good meal, I don't want to get too used to it. Besides, I've heard many say that learning to recognize and enjoy good wine is expensive as the wines considered good are often expensive.
Watches, Xboxes, PSPs, LCD/plasma/flatscreen/whatever TVs, iPads. I don't own any of these. I do feel lost when people talk about the latest game or mention a name and I can't tell if is a TV show or a new game or a new app.
Summer cottages, boats, yachts, exclusive destinations. Luckily, I love to travel and have enough stories of my own to narrate should that be needed. Since they are encumbered by kids and holiday homes, they don't get to go to places that I do. I just don't mention the budget.
Golf, Tennis, skiing. All come with membership costs (we don't have public courses and courts like in the US) plus they need special gear. My bicycle is a simple hybrid - nothing fancy like the bicycling enthusiasts think is de rigueur.
Homes and stuff:
Fortunately there are no expectations to invite colleagues home. But I do have a somewhat difficult time with friends and acquaintances - "how can anyone live without a sofa or TV and bare walls". And then comes the offers to dump their junk on me. Many seem to think I just am not living. Only my boyfriend and a few close friends understand somewhat.
How do you guys cope? What are the strategies you've adopted? I can't be the only one on here, trying to appear to fit in with a world and society that is happily headed another direction. :-)