We all know we shouldn’t try to “keep up with the Joneses.” That way leads to big financial problems. But do we feel uncomfortable no matter if we try to keep up or not? I think sometimes we do. Much of that comes because of where we live.
|The Joneses in Debt|
Dreamland, paradise, or money trap? If you bought the biggest house that the bank would finance for you, you probably have a large portion of your income going to that house payment. (Home buyers beware!) As bad as that is, your house is most likely in an area of homes that cost about the same. It’s no surprise that you have neighbors that like to spend more money for their lifestyle than you can. They might have a larger income than you and/or be up to their eyeballs in debt. Remember all the foreclosures on “McMansions”?
To combat pressure to spend more and more, it’s important to define “the good life” on your own terms. Maybe you’re saving for your children’s education, your retirement, and/or to pay off debt. Whatever it is, it’s what’s important to you. This is the best antidote to being jealous of the Joneses. Your goals are the strongest motivation to keep on track with savings.
You don’t need to explain your priorities to others unless you choose to, but don’t expect them to agree. Some people save to pay off their mortgage early. Some people save a big chunk of their income so they can retire early. Not many people will understand that, but your goals are your goals. You can become a “stealth saver” if you don’t want to keep explaining yourself to others.
If you are in a group of friends that continually spends more than you do, suggest activities that cost less. Start a monthly potluck whether it’s in the form of a brunch, cookout, picnic at the beach, or travelling dinner. Enlist them in volunteering at a local charity every so often. You might want to start a hiking or camping group. Find an inexpensive restaurant to share. If you want to do less expensive activities, you will have to be the one to get it started. Or be busy with your own hiking, volunteering, family activities, etc. some of the time. Take charge of your calendar rather than just reacting to what others plan.
By the way, the Joneses could be really nice people and a lot of fun to spend time with–that just makes it more difficult to resist accepting all their invitations. Stick to your own spending and saving plan as your first priority and get together with them when your budget allows.
How do you counteract the pressure to spend more? What are your favorite inexpensive activities?
Click on any of the labels below this post for more ideas.