Do you ever get sick of the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses”? I know I do! But, it’s the easiest way to describe the feeling that people, especially Americans, have to “keep up appearances” by purchasing things they don’t want or need, and usually can’t afford just to impress the people around them.
For some, the Joneses are their neighbors or co-workers. Others’ Joneses may be their family, like siblings, or cousins. For me there’s more than one Jones that I’ve found myself trying to out-do over the years. Currently, my worst Joneses are actually my BFF and her hubby. I finally figured it out over the weekend when they came to visit.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my BFF and her hubby and I don’t think they intentionally try to out-do me. I’m sure they probably have Joneses of their own, but I doubt that I’m one of them. When they showed up at my house this past Friday night, my BFF mentioned that she needed the Internet code to look up a recipe we were needing:
Her: “I need the Internet code so I can find the recipe.” Pulls out a tablet-like device.
Me: “Your Kindle Fire didn’t save the code from the last time you were on my network?”
Her: “This is my Ipad, I haven’t used it here. We just got them last week.”
Me: “Oh you both got one? Cool!”
Her: “Yeah, Hubby’s is for his birthday. I just got one because I wanted one.”
Me: “I see.” In my head I add, “must be nice, I don’t even have a Kindle Fire”.
Then I proceed to spend the next few minutes alternating between feeling guilty for thinking that way since it’s my own fault I’m in debt and can’t afford gadgets like these, and envious of their cool new toys.
They also got a new to them used car just about a year ago, which instilled more of the same feelings then too, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.
When trying to defeat the need to “Keep up with the Joneses”, knowing who your Joneses are can go a long way.
It really helps in my case that my BFF and her hubby don’t intend to make me feel that way. After all, they don’t know about my debt situation, so it’s not like they are intentionally rubbing all their new stuff in my face while knowing I can’t afford similar things.
The next step to defeat the need to “keep up” is to feel genuinely happy for some one’s success instead of jealousy for their possessions. Of course, this is easier said than done. I don’t have this skill mastered yet, but I’m working on it.
You don’t know their story. They may have worked very hard and saved up for the new Ipads and car, which is great! But it’s possible they didn’t save and instead they financed the whole thing. There’s no real way to know, so try not to feel envious of something that may have set them farther back on the debt path.
The third tip to defeating the Joneses is to curb your wants. When you get a case of the “I wants” it can be really hard to deal with and it’s usually easier to give in to yourself and buy whatever it is. But soon the feeling of excitement from the new possession will wear off, leaving you with more debt and farther away from your end goals.
I have a list of wants. Whenever I want something, I write it down. I may or may not purchase it in the end, but I start by listing each item and the pros and cons of buying it. I make myself think the purchase over very carefully before deciding. Even then, it will likely be several months before much of anything is purchased off of this list.
My current list includes a Kindle Fire, a new computer, a some-what expensive hair product I like, and some new workout equipment. Will I end up purchasing everything on the list? Maybe, maybe not, but having the list to refer to when I have some extra income will be handy to keep me on track and away from frivolous, silly purchases I may regret later.
Who are your “Joneses” and how do you deal with the need to “keep up” with them?
Check out my Pick My Brain page if you need help balancing your budget!