One of the most annoying aspects about living with a low expense level is dealing with well-meaning (and ill-meaning) people who think more spending is in order: “How can anyone be happy spending so little?”, “This is one step away from being homeless.”, “Living below the poverty line doesn’t sound like much fun”, and so on.

The natural inclination is to try to be defensive and try to explain how one can be quite happy by spending little and how above a certain level, happiness and spending actually has little to do with each other; or try to explain how wise spending makes the money go significantly farther.

This rarely works.

If anything it confirms the spenders that they don’t want to spend(ha!) time looking for good deals or otherwise making do, using up, or doing without [useless things].

A better strategy is needed.

Lately, I’ve experimented with drawing attention away from the low-spending side of the ERE deal towards the high-asset side, by providing some less than subtle running commentary on market reactions and various investment decisions I make. I have previously kept quiet about investing and money matters.

I may just be imagining this, but I sense that the attention from “concerned” individuals has gone down materially after I started talking about investing.

I won’t be too in the face about it, so I’ll say things like “I added to my gold position on the correction today” and not things like “I just bought an additional $10000 worth of gold.”

I will admit, that the latter is sometimes tempting. Especially when people are bragging about their new sports car…

… which they probably got on lease.

I think the reason is that while spending money on consumerism is a socially accepted bragging point and a measure of your social status, investing and talking about money is considered taboo.

I suggest being subversive about this taboo. However, when someone brings up their new car lease don’t go off about how you just spent the same amount of money on some investment because you know better. Rather, just start talking about the market and investing on a regular basis, like an investor would, much like consumers talk about their cell phones and exotic vacations. You can mention how you just increased your holdings of things and that without going into specifics. Be subtle.

The result would be that the prejudices people have of you as low-consuming individual, which most people for some reason see as a horrible way to live, are replaced with an image of being an investor, which is more socially acceptable. Furthermore, it will take people’s attention away from the fact that you’re not spending to the fact that they’re not investing.

It’s a good flanking maneuver.