Keeping Up with the "Joneses"

Financial envy is even more of a thing now than it ever was. Today, we not only have television shows displaying lifestyles of the rich and famous, we’re punched with images and status updates in social media, too.

We not only see the “Joneses” on television, but we are likely connected on social media to colleagues and friends who post frequent photos and statuses about their new luxury car, boat, or 3-carat diamond ring. Though we may think the grass is greener at the Joneses, we have no way of knowing whether that snapshot is a true picture of “the good life,” or a depiction of living beyond one’s means.

One 2016 study of household debt in America shows the average household has debt balances totaling almost $17,000, and the average household with any kind of debt, including mortgages, owes nearly $135,000.

If you’ve been struggling to keep up with the Joneses and your financial life reflects that, it may be time to make some changes to improve your quality of life. Here are a few simple ways to start:

  • Stop comparing yourself to others. The truth is you never really know what someone else’s financial picture actually looks like. Don’t view their portrayed success as your failure. It is highly possible that they are living beyond their means.

  • Learn to live within your means. The key is to spend less, despite how much you may be making. You should start by tracking your spending and figuring out where your money is going. You might be surprised at what you find.

  • Stop enabling yourself. Making a significant change to your lifestyle can be difficult. If you find yourself struggling with this be prepared to cut yourself off. Cut up your credit cards or ask someone to do it for you. Change has to start somewhere.

  • Commit to your own financial well-being. Nobody cares more about your money than you do, which is why it is so important that you take actions towards improving your situation. You need to commit to improving your own financial well-being, because no one is going to do it for you.

  • Find value in yourself and in others. Studies show that buying material things makes us happy, but only briefly. Instead of spending mindlessly, invest your time in your family and relationships. That is where the real value is.

No matter how much money you earn, the “Joneses” will always be there. They will have a bigger house and nicer cars. They will throw better parties and seem happier than most people. Just remember, trying to keep up with them is an impossible task and a waste of your time.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss making changes in your financial life, we are happy to talk.