3 Wasteful Financial Flexes To Avoid

Jacob Grandstaff
4 min readOct 26, 2022
By Trey Ratcliff

Like it or love it — hating it isn’t an option — flex culture is in. And it’s not going away for at least a generation.

So, rather than complain about the culture like a bunch of old fogies, a better approach is to embrace it. After all, we can agree that alcohol and marijuana prohibition didn’t work. Regulation is a much better option.

So, what is flex culture?

Flex culture is a social media-driven phenomenon “of deliberately showing yourself off about your personal belongings in the goal of giving yourself higher value in front of other people.”

For kids with wealthy parents, it can be fun. For middle-class college students and young professionals, it can become addicting and life-ruining.

However, most people will never become minimalists or engage in monkish self-denial. So, rather than encourage you to become counter-cultural, here are three things not to buy to flex on peers.

1. Phones

A friend of mine who grew up in poverty bragged in a group chat recently that spending nearly $1,000 on the latest version of some smartphone made him feel like he’d finally arrived in the middle class.

This was one of the OGs of flex culture. Being able to afford the newest, shiniest version of Android or iPhone gave you street cred like cars in the 80s.

All that, however, was very short-lived.

By @richkidsnaps

It’s not 2010 anymore. No one cares what kind of phone you have or how new it is.

The smartphone market plateaued by the late-2010s. In 2018, 77 percent of Americans owned smartphones, compared with just 35 percent in 2011.

The race to the top meant newer versions of smartphones were more durable than cheaper brands or previous versions — so much so that consumers began seeing no reason to upgrade like they used to.

With smartphones’ becoming ubiquitous, dumbphones nearly went extinct. It even became cool in a hipster way to ditch the smartphone altogether and return to the flip-phone.

Jacob Grandstaff

MA in History; Mostly culture, trends, and occasional rants. History blog: https://historyhowithappened.com/