Image all boils down to the car you drive, apparently

By now, everyone knows  I drive an old, old, OLD car. Like past a decade old and still kicking.

It isn’t pretty, it’s scratched up, it doesn’t have automatic anything (except windshield wipers) and I have to drive at 50 km/h so it doesn’t rattle too badly.

Just the other day I had a conversation with a co-worker who said: “So is your BF working?”

FB: Naw. He’s off contract right now.

Co-Worker: Oh! I’m so sorry. Are you going to be able to make it? Do you have another contract lined up after this one?

FB: Well we don’t spend a lot of money, so we should be okay. And no, I’m done after this contract so I’ll just chill out and plan my next year, but I have nothing lined up.

Co-Worker: *furrows brow* I’ll keep you two in my thoughts. I know it must be hard to pay your own expenses for this project & to be watching a budget.

FB: *touched* That’s nice of you to say. Thank you.

I know she said it to be nice, but apparently it all boils down to the car I drive.

She has made similar comments during the project about how old my car is, how much gas it uses (everyone assumes it uses a lot because it’s old, when in fact I can go on a tank of gas per month or more), and that I could probably look into getting a small Yaris or something that’s new rather than driving that junker around.

There are of course, other little indications such as:

  • I bring my lunch to work and once a month (if that), I buy my lunch outside
  • They know I don’t eat in restaurants, because they’ve asked where I go on the weekends to eat and I said: “Chez moi” (At my place)
  • I don’t buy a daily coffee & doughnut
  • I never participate in those candy drives because I don’t like the candy being sold, but they think it’s because I can’t afford it
  • I get paid monthly so people think I’m living on bare bones to make it to the next month
  • I attack the free food left behind from retirement parties (seriously, free cake tastes better)
  • I pay a lot for my hotel apartment ($2500/month) so they think it’s my entire paycheque, although they know BF pays “half”
  • I’m always watching the gas prices (what? you don’t?!)
  • They know I only spend about $150/month for my share in the groceries
  • When I can’t use my car, I take the bus instead of cabbing it
  • I always ask about the price of everything
  • I wear kind of the same stuff everyday (what? I don’t have my whole wardrobe here)
  • They know I only have 4 chairs, a futon and a table as my furniture and they think I can’t afford to even go to IKEA

It doesn’t really bother me as much as it makes me feel that people are very kind to be worrying about how other people are faring.

I don’t care if they think I’m a starving, poor, freelancer laden down with student debt and living a poor lifestyle but facetiously calling it “minimalist”.

I just don’t want them to worry so I try to smile and tell them not to, but I can see that they have no idea and cannot help themselves in trying to offer me suggestions on how to save money.

G.I. Jane had something similar happen to her:

I had lunch with the Korean Nationals from my office on Tues.  I decided at the last minute to treat them all to lunch since they always treat me.  They were like shocked that I paid for all four of them.

It only came to $38  for everyone, including  me.

When we sat down one of them was like, “I thought you couldn’t afford to pay because of the car you drive”  or something like that .

Even though I make more than all three out of four combined and their boss, it boiled down to the car I drive!  I said, “well I do not have a car payment…so I use that money to buy you all lunch.

It’s just funny how you really get judged by the car you drive as a symbol of what you can afford.

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.