Maintenance, that ugly thing that comes along with all of the other responsibilities of owning things. What are some things that we need to maintain?
- Home Maintenance
- Car Maintenance
- Health Maintenance
- Image Maintenance
- and Stuff Maintenance
The last two are kind of different. What are image and stuff maintenance?
Image maintenance is the ongoing cost to maintain the image or lifestyle you portray, and stuff maintenance is the cost of the maintenance of some of the associated items to maintain that image or lifestyle. I thought “Stuff Maintenance” was a cute harmless term to use.
Image maintenance is the cost of maintaining the image you portray. Lots of people portray specific images to accomplish various things:
- Doctors or Lawyers have the need to portray successful, professional images.
- Investors want to portray a successful professional image.
- Some regular people portray an image that makes them appear more wealthy than they are.
- Other people don’t care about the image they portray.
- And there are many subcultures that have many different images to portray (Rockers, Rappers, Sports professionals, etc)
As I’m sure you’re aware most images that people portray are expensive. Gone are the days where people didn’t really care what people thought of them financially. Now, most people are trying to put on a show to impress the neighbors. It’s like there is a “keeping up with the Joneses” checklist:
- Huge House (you need more than enough rooms, and an office you don’t use. You know, just in case.), check.
- Crazy Luxury vehicle, check.
- Another Crazy Luxury Vehicle, check.
- In Season Wardrobe (A must!), check.
- The latest cell phone, check.
- RV, check.
- Amazing watch, check.
- Top of the line electronics, check.
- The best Cable Package, check.
That’s an expensive list. Of course, not everyone chooses all of these available options. The package most choose, will greatly depend on who they are competing with (usually people they refer to as friends). This is sometimes called comparative wealth. Most people don’t believe they are doing well, until they are doing better than the people they surround themselves with.
Stuff Maintenance of a Shaving Razor
Now, if you thought “Image Maintenance” was expensive, then wait until I introduce you to “Stuff Maintenance!” Stuff maintenance is the cost of maintaining the stuff that you’ve purchased to maintain your image. I suppose this could be considered a derivative cost of Image Maintenance.
Image Maintenance has a high upfront cost, but like most things in life, upfront costs are nothing when compared to the ongoing cost. Let us consider the typical male shaving razor. You can easily buy a shaving razor that comes with 5 replacement heads for about $9.00. After you’ve got that razor though, oh boy, the costs just shoot up. Good luck finding 5 replacement heads for less than $10.00!
Stuff Maintenance Costs
So, what does the razor example have to do with stuff maintenance? Each of the items listed will have maintenance costs. The huge house will not only cost more to heat, cool, and light, but you’ve now got a bigger roof, more square footage, and higher taxes! The vehicles will have obvious maintenance costs, in addition to the rapid depreciation they’ll experience.
The electronics will have the added cost of the data they need to display, such as that sweet cable plan, or the data plan that your phone “needs.” Additionally, you’ll need to replace those perfectly good electronics once they are outdated, or risk losing some of your image points.
Luxury items like the watch might last a long time, but if they need to be repaired, then you better be prepared to shell out hundreds of dollars for an expert to deal with it. The only defense for these types of items is that some of them come with really good lifetime warranties, but there are usually caveats that you can get tangled in.
How Much Does Stuff Maintenance Cost You
People don’t like to quantify how much their image costs, but it would serve you well to see how much your “people impressing” costs you. My favorite part of this subject is informing people to tack on another 10-35% depending on your tax bracket. Oh yes, if you are in the 35% tax bracket, then an image that costs $100.00 after-tax to maintain, requires you to earn $153.85 (153.85 – (153.85 * 35%) = $100). My, that is an expensive phone plan!
What about a person in the 10% tax bracket? They need to earn $111.11! Keep in mind, someone in the 10% tax bracket is probably earning minimum wage. So, let’s be generous and assume that this person makes $10.00 an hour. That means this person would need to work for 11 hours in order to pay for that “image enhancement.”
Based on my $100 example above, I’m sure you can begin to extrapolate how expensive lifestyles can become, and I’ll tell you right now that most images cost far more than $100 each month. That’s a whole lot of extra time at the office/restaurant/store, and all to maintain some silly, unrealistic image.