In Sun Tzu’s Art of War he claims that “All war is deception.” To win in war you must deceive the enemy and sometimes your own troops. Appearing stronger, better equip, and more competent will weaken your enemies morale and increase your own standing. But is this a sustainable, long term strategy? Will this work every time. Unfortunately, no. Sooner or later someone wanting what you have will find the weakness in your armor and exploit that weakness. Trojan horses will only work once, maybe twice, but never more.
The alternative is to be the best, be the strongest, and be real. In personal finance it is much better be rich than to pretend, fake, and deceive others into thinking your rich. Going into debt to appear rich is not the same as saving, investing, and building strong businesses. To the untrained eye those that finance their appearances through debt look so much like those who earn it they can’t distinguish the two. As time grinds forward the fakes are exposed. Someone should tell Sun Tzu that all war is won through superior economics and not deceit on the battlefield.