COOL AND BROKE
Why Most "Cool
People" Are Broke!
People who don't respect money don't have
— J. Paul Getty, Billionaire Oil
Money will appear when you are doing the right thing in your
— Michael Phillips
Have you noticed how most cool people - the
ones who think of themselves as so hip and with it — are
always broke? In other words, they are always having an out-of-money experience.
Suze Orman spotted this interesting phenomenon and wrote a book about this called The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous &
Broke. The book has sold very well but I would venture to say that the
large majority of cool people who read the book are still broke.
The artist is a member of the leisured classes
who cannot pay for his leisure.
— Cyril Connolly
To Be Cool in Season Is Not to Be
"I may not amount to much," declared Jean-Jacques Rousseau, "but at least I am unique." You also
don't have to be "much" to have a healthy identity, attain more wealth, and be more sophisticated than today's
trendy people. Apparently, these people find it easier to be valued for what they own and how they look, instead
of for who they are.
Ah, well, then I suppose I shall have to die beyond
— Oscar Wilde
Furthermore, there doesn't appear to be an ounce of imagination in the whole group. People
seeking to be "cool" never seem to display something original. Instead, they gleefully allow the trend-setters,
mainly advertisers, to dictate what they buy and how they look.
It's a kind of spiritual snobbery that makes people
think they can be happy without money.
— Albert Camus
Advertisers, aided by mega-channel television, define what "cool"
means in the Western world. Also, feature articles in many consumer magazines try to keep their readers informed of
what is hip. Consumers trustfully accept that to be individualistic and rebellious they must buy the trendiest and
most expensive all terrain vehicles, laptop computers, hairdos, golf clubs, and name brand sunglasses.
Trend-seekers don't need or even want many of the things they buy. They purchase the latest trends because they are
the right things to have, and because they may impress others.
It is better to have a permanent income than to be
— Oscar Wilde
As we do with the word security, we seldom stop to ponder what the word "cool" really means or
stands for. Cool, as it refers to a person's way of being, was coined about sixty years ago during the 1930s'
age of jazz. At that time, cool meant being disinterested. In this regard, being cool was synonymous with being
uncontrolled, uncorrupted, and unbought. It meant being in self-control.
As time passed, cool was the refuge of beatniks, hippies, and tree planters. To them, cool meant
standing apart from society, rejecting conformity of the masses, and discovering one's self. As more time
passed, advertisers were able to corrupt the true definition of cool to the point that being cool today is
almost the opposite of what it was years ago.
Paying attention to simple little things that most men
neglect makes a few men rich.
— Henry Ford
In the modern world, "cool stuff" and trendy appearances appeal to a large majority of society,
including members of the rich, middle-class, and lower-class, all desperate to define themselves in some unique
way. The latest status symbol is desired in order that they can display their individuality and "be
By striving for individuality, they all end up being and looking like everyone else in their
socioeconomic group, regardless of how expensive the products may be. Paradoxically, in attempting to stand apart from the crowd, all trend-seekers sooner or later become
the crowd. What a bunch of idiots! The worst part is that most of these middle-class and lower
socio-economic groups are broke today.
It's a sad reflection of our culture when cool mongers can tell us
how to think and what to buy. People are led to believe that they will be losers or failures if they don't acquire
the latest gadgets and appearances. Advertisers rely on customers being insecure and constantly discontented with
what they presently own. New, "cool" products advertised in fantasy-based commercials promise everything, including
self-esteem, happiness, belonging, and respect of others.
I often wonder if advertisers stay up all night thinking up these stupid
commericials, or if the ideas come naturally. It doesn't really matter because the commercials are highly
effective. Results don't lie, in other words.
"How you play the game" is for college boys. When
you're playing for money, winning is the only thing that counts.
— Leo Durocher
The majority may be flocking to the latest fads and fashions; you don't have to do the same,
hoever. Striving to be cool with the latest trendy possessions and unnatural appearances is a consuming,
expensive, and unproductive preoccupation. Just because something is new and trendy doesn't mean it is worthy of
your time, energy, and money.
Formal education will make you a living;
self-education will make you a fortune.
— Jim Rohn
What is cool today probably won't be tomorrow. Trend-seekers need to regularly experience new
stimuli because today's cool stuff is old and flat after just a short while. The more shallow a trend is, the
faster it loses its appeal. Moreover, when a fair number of people acquire the same trendy fashions, cars, or
other possessions, what was supposed to be cool is immediately passe. In fact, trends today can last a few days
before they are history.
Perhaps you don't feel there is anything wrong with being a hip person plugged into the latest
trends and cool stuff. The problem is that purchasing goods and services that are supposed to make you appear
hip and "with it" will cover up the real you. The question that begs an answer is: Why would you want to
maintain an image that is not you? There is no good answer unless, of course, you don't know who you really are.
In this case, no matter how hard you try to be cool, you will always have this inner suspicion that you are far
New, trendy things may seem exciting and irresistible to any one of us. There is always the
important issue, however, of what emotional need influences us to desire something cool. Perhaps we want to
impress others in an attempt to connect or fit in with them. Being trendy may impress certain people;
nonetheless, we have to ask ourselves what sort of people are going to be impressed.
We fool ourselves when we think that we can impress everyone with cool stuff and wild
appearances. We may attract a lot of attention, but lose the respect of most people, not to mention our own.
Connecting with other people through trendy possessions and appearances is a shallow experience at best.
Nobody is so miserable as the person who longs to be
somebody other than the person he is.
- Angelo Patri
Another emotional factor influencing people's indulgence in the latest trends is boredom.
Unfortunately, trendy objects and cool stuff are lacking in substance and do a poor job in providing any sense
of meaning and identity to people's lives. Thus, trying to lavishly spend oneself out of boredom by buying
trendy objects is both insane and dangerous.
Indeed, this can lead to severe financial problems, not to mention
facial twitching, hypertension, and mental disorientation. Who needs this, considering that
in the end the state of boredom will remain as pronounced as ever.
Regardless of how much money and effort people put into it, the quest for individuality through
trendy objects and hip appearances ends up in failure. Individuality that is based on advertisers' ideas, and
especially when purchased on a credit card, is not the real thing.
Real individuality is established through unique character. And having unique character comes
from being authentic, different, and unusual. The point is, oddity determines
character, not conformity.
The Greeks have a proverb: "To rebel in season is not to rebel." To put it another way,
to be cool in season is not to be cool. Being truly cool
- in the sense of the original meaning of the word
- is to shun conformity and stand apart from the
The way I see it, if you want to be truly cool, then just be
yourself. You will spend a lot less money and have a sense of self-respect that no amount of money can
Also see Money Advice from
Students on The Money Cafe:
Money Tips for Cool People Who Are
It doesn't matter if you're rich or poor, as long as you've got
— Joe E. Lewis
No man is rich whose expenditure exceeds his means; and no one is
poor whose incomings exceed his outgoings.
My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net
— Errol Flynn
I'm living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be
— e. e. cummings
What good is freedom if you've not got the money for
— Lillian Hellman
Don't go around saying the world owes you a living; the
world owes you nothing, it was here first.
— Mark Twain
Economics 101 won't get you off welfare, but at least you will know
why you are there.
— Graffiti at a university
We all need money, but there are degrees of
— Anthony Burgess
It is said that “a fool and his money are soon parted,” and
that may well be so, but one has to wonder how the Fool earned his money in the first place.
— Author Unknown
THE MONEY CAFÉ COPYRIGHT © 2014 by Ernie J. Zelinski