The Joneses

3fc7b244b7a02987d59e77d9802a580eA few mornings ago as I perused my daily reading list, I ran across an article about The high cost of keeping up with the Joneses  at Get Rich Slowly. As I read the article, I asked myself a few basic questions:

  • What does this term mean exactly? “Keeping up with the Joneses” refer[s] to the comparison to one’s neighbor as a benchmark for social caste or the accumulation of material goods.

  • What happens when you don’t do it? To fail to “keep up with the Joneses” is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority.

  • Who are these people, anyway? “In fact, the Joneses are often broke or living a paycheck-to-paycheck existence.” Common Sense Money also calls the people who do this “Pretendius Finacius” LOL

Whether you are a Jones, trying to keep up with them or don’t have a single bone in your body that cares about “perceived” competition (ahem…), the article at GRS reminds us all of ways we can avoid this phenomena:

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others. Since you never know what anyone else’s financial picture really looks like, it’s important not to see their “apparent success” as “your own failure.” Remember, you don’t know their story and it’s highly possible that your peers are living beyond their means as well.

  2. Learn to live within your means. No matter how much you earn, it’s important to spend less. Any other strategy is a recipe for failure. Start by tracking your spending to figure out where your money is going. You might be surprised at what you find.

  3. Stop enabling yourself. If you can’t stop spending, be prepared to cut yourself off. Cut up your credit cards if you need to or ask your spouse to do it. Put yourself on a budget and stick to it! Something has to give.

  4. Commit to your own financial well-being. One of the basic tenets of Get Rich Slowly is that “nobody cares more about your money than you do.” That’s why it’s important for you to take action to improve your situation. Commit to your own financial well-being, because no one is going to do it for you.

  5. Find value in yourself and in others. Material possessions cannot fill an empty heart. Instead of spending mindlessly, put your energy into your family and your relationships. That’s where the real value is.