It is safe to say that most of you are familiar with the concept of “keeping up with the Joneses”. If you haven’t, here is how one source eloquently puts it:
“Keeping up with the Joneses” is an idiom in many parts of the English-speaking world referring to the comparison to one’s neighbor as a benchmark for social class or the accumulation of material goods. To fail to “keep up with the Joneses” is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority.
The desire to compare ourselves to our peers is part of human nature — we wouldn’t have sports, corporate ladders, or eating contests if it weren’t. But measuring our own financial success against that of our peers and letting their spending behavior influence our own can spell major trouble for our finances. And the amount of consumer debt in our society is evidence of this fact. It seems as though more and more of us are willing to pull out the plastic without regard to our budget. As Will Rogers said, “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like”.
So what can we do to pay less attention to how the Joneses are doing and focus instead on our own financial health and the things in life that will truly make us happy?
Stop comparing yourself to others
Since we never know what anyone else’s financial picture really looks like, it’s important not to see their apparent success as our own failure. Remember, we don’t know their story and it’s highly possible that our peers are living beyond their means.
Learn to live within your means
Regardless of our income, without a little discipline, it is easy to spend all of it on frivolous things. And if you haven’t built financial margin into your life, one little hiccup in income could result in losing those things and possibly more. Seven out of ten families in the United States are living paycheck to paycheck. That means one missed paycheck and the bills are going unpaid.
I am willing to go out on a branch to say that the Joneses are likely living paycheck to paycheck and are financing their lifestyle in a way that puts them in danger of losing everything. In turn, the Joneses are likely just as stressed about money as we are.
To relieve some stress, start by tracking spending habits to figure out where money is going. You might be surprised at what you find. Then take action to improve your situation. Here at Precedent Asset Management, we explore budgets with clients which allow them to find a happy medium between saving and spending without ruining their long-term goals.
Find your own happiness
Don’t let anyone else dictate what should make you happy. 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.
If you’d like to discuss your budget in detail, feel free to schedule a time to talk to us. We’d be more than happy to assist you!