*Image found here.

We moved to Dallas 2 years ago next week. I was immediately overwhelmed by culture shock. In Asheville, most people that we know drive used cars and dress as though they are about to go hiking. Bathing is optional and there are more white people with dreadlocks per capita than anywhere else in the nation. Dallas is all about shiny new cars, high fashion, and looking put together. Jed recently commented that he didn’t feel pretty enough to shop at Whole Foods. He went there during the lunch hour and it was like a singles’ mixer for J.Crew models.
Needless to say, my Chacos, Danskos, and Crocs do not fit in here. There is a saying here that we quickly learned to say when we are shocked by the excess and luxury that surrounds us – T.I.D. “This is Dallas.” Take one trip to North Park Mall and you will say it a lot.
Don’t get me wrong, we love it here. We love our friends and our community, but we are still overwhelmed sometimes by the excess in this town.
The Dallas Morning News (our local paper) is running a series called “Drowning in Debt” that I love. It gives a great perspective on the debt crisis in our nation and in our city. I was not surprised to read that Dallas has the 2nd highest consumer (non-mortgage) debt of any major city in our nation. I think this has a lot to do with the T.I.D./keeping up with the Jones’ attitude. In this town the Jones’ are Jerry Jones and his crew, and there is just no way to keep up.
Here is what the Dallas Morning News had to say about debt in Big D:

For the last four years, Dallas-area consumers have been dogged by debt.
During that period, the area consistently has had higher average consumer debt loads and lower average credit scores than the nation as a whole.
Among the 20 biggest U.S. metro areas, Dallas trails only Seattle in average consumer debt, according to Experian, one of the three national credit bureaus.
Dallas-area consumers in March carried average debt of $26,599 excluding mortgages, compared with a national average of $24,775, Experian said.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area also has had lower average credit scores than the rest of the nation.

To be sure, many consumers find themselves deep in debt through circumstances beyond their control. Many lose jobs and struggle to keep up with bills. For others, unexpected medical expenses overwhelm their budgets.
But personal finance experts estimate that at least 10 percent of debt woes are a direct result of overspending – pure lack of discipline.
“It’s an epidemic in our country,” said Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist and co-author of Mind Over Money. I am finding that people with excessive debt associate money and material things with increased power, status and happiness, thus leading them to overspend.
Experts say several psychological motivators drive consumers’ urge to splurge, including the desire to fit in with peers, the need to relieve stress or escape from problems, and the sense that their self-worth is derived from how much money they have to spend. Sometimes, consumers overspend just to change the way they feel.

We have no debt and plan to stay that way. But, I have definitely made purchases to fit in and dress more like my friends. I shop at a certain overpriced store (that I love) because the clothes are beautiful and even a t-shirt from there is way cooler than the Old Navy version.
After college I bought a brand new car, because I thought I deserved it. I had to sell it one year later for a $3000 loss because I couldn’t afford the payments. That was a BIG mistake.
The debt that we had prior to becoming debt free was almost 100% caused by lack of discipline. We spent more than we made because we wanted more stuff. The difference now is that we have to get past caring about keeping up. I don’t know if we will ever stop caring completely, but I hope the feeling of being debt free will keep us going.
Have you ever bought something you regretted – either to keep up/look cool/because you thought you deserved it?

7 Comments on Frugal Friday – This is Dallas.

  1. So weird. We moved to the DFW area nearly 2 years ago too, and are still in a little bit of “culture shock” as well! So glad to hear someone else is experiencing the same thing. I think I feel nearly the same as you do, too. I love it here. There’s so much to do, and there’s a huge Christian influence (not sure if that’s a big deal to you or not)… but it’s not relaxed & carefree. I kinda miss that as well. But I also like the “chic & sleek” too, and will probably eventually like that as much as the other. I think. Maybe?? 🙂


  2. I had no idea Dallas was so fashionable!!! definitely a big change from charming Asheville 🙂 My sister lives there, and she wears Salvation Army clothes that she redesigns herself. Very cool look, actually!

    Haven’t regretted buying anything… yet, but then again I haven’t made any big purchases in my life.

  3. With Jon being a pediatrician, most of the people we know are also in the medical profession, and with that comes a certain “trading up” lifestyle. We know people our age who are making payments on brand new Mercedes and BMWs. That lifestyle is totally against our values, and yet we see how easy it is to fall into it. We really treasure the friends who don’t buy into that and can remind us that that kind of thing is NOT normal.

    I regret buying our house. It seemed like a good decision at the time, a great price at a great rate, but then the market crashed.

  4. My husband is from Dallas and I’m from Longview, but we’re in the Marines and stationed out in California right now. When I saw that picture I got a little homesick. 🙂

    We are working on our 2nd enlistment and are definately still paying off dumb purchases from our 1st. We have agreed to be each others “no person” when it comes to things we “have to have” but are really just silly wants. If we are smart this enlistment can set us up to be very financially solid.

    By the way- LOVE your blog! It is inspires my crafty side and is very uplifting to my spirit. Thank you!

  5. I love this post! I’ve lived in dallas for years and i always feel the need to ‘live up’ to everyone else. It’s freaking exhausting. Finally, when i decided to go back to school and have a baby, we now live on 1 income so there is a definte budget. I am no less happy and feel less pressure to keep up. Beware the ‘mommmy’ groups though 🙂 Try keeping up with who has the prettiest or smartest kid. ugh, will it never end.

  6. with all the ‘fashion season’ turnover, there are excellent values to be had at clothing/resale/consignment shops; A few years back I would attend the (I think) Jewish Womens Council wardrobe cleanout sale, and get a years worth of decently stylish clothing for 200$ or less. don’t know if they still offer this but might be worth looking into!

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