Who are the Joneses in Your Life?

18 Dec
by Jenny, posted in Consumerism/Minimalism, Money Honey   |  6 Comments

the joneses

We’ve all heard the idiom “keeping up with the Joneses.” But who is this person, family or group we’re measuring our lives against? Odds are, my “Joneses” are different than yours.

The Joneses in your life can be any person, family or group that you compare your life against.

Most likely, the Joneses you choose to compare yourself with have more of something you feel you’re lacking. In fact, you may not have given something a second thought until you saw that Sally Jones had the very job, car, vacation, education, etc. you never knew you always wanted.

Suddenly you feel less than. If only you could have that job, car, vacation, education, etc. that Sally has. Then you would finally be happy. Or not.

Comparing our lives to others is natural. The problem comes when we start yearning for what others have rather than being content with our own lives.

There is nothing wrong with striving for more of what we want out of life, but chasing material goods at the expense of our financial health and freedom is not a good idea.

And what about when we compare our lives to the lives of those on tv? The unrealistic inflated lifestyles showcased on most tv programs is not the measuring stick with which we should be assessing our own lives. But oftentimes, we unknowingly desire the unobtainable lifestyles that we see in movies or on tv.

What might the Joneses in your life have that you want?

Depending on many factors including your age, occupation, marital status and location, the Joneses in your life may have the following things you seek:

  • A nicer house, condo or apartment.
  • A high-paying, impressive career.
  • A newer, faster or more expensive car.
  • Trendy clothes, professional manicures and pedicures and professionally highlighted hair.
  • A maid or lawn service.
  • A gorgeous wife, girlfriend, husband or boyfriend.
  • Smart, athletic, charming and accomplished kids.
  • Exotic vacations.
  • The latest smartphone, computer, tablet and other technology-related devices.

All of this comparing and keeping up can throw us into a never ending spiral of debt and unhappiness. We’ve all experienced the thrill of purchasing a much desired item only to feel disillusioned when the buzz wore off and we were left with the soon-to-be previous model of XYZ.

And let’s not forget that some things about people’s lives aren’t so obvious.

There are things about the Joneses we can’t see. Things like:

  • Retirement savings.
  • Debt balances.
  • The stress of keeping up appearances that may go on behind closed doors.

It’s easy to assume we know about a person or family’s financial situation by what we perceive to be an outward display of wealth. The truth is, 99% of the time, the outward displays we see are backed by a fat debt balance.

Keeping up appearances likely comes at the expense of the Joneses’ future income, happiness and security. And when we try to keep up, we make those same sacrifices.

That’s a pretty steep price to pay just to impress people we don’t even know that well. After all, anyone really close to us would love us regardless of what we drive, right? So, why sacrifice our futures for the favorable opinions of strangers and acquaintances?

It seems a little silly, doesn’t it?

Life can be different. Starting Today.

Let today be the day you stop looking outward at what the Joneses are buying. Who cares what they’re doing?

Let today be the day you make a plan to rid yourself of the restrictive debt that prevents you from living a life of freedom.

Turn off the tv. Avoid the mall. Spend your time and attention on the people in your life that matter. Let the Joneses dig themselves deeper into debt as dig your way out of debt and discover what makes YOU happy.

If you do this, I promise, your life will be far more fulfilling and meaningful than any fleeting attempt at making an impression.

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  2. Is My Husband Feeling Forced into a Non-Consumerist Life?
  3. Do You Have an Escape Plan for Your Life?
  4. Your Ideal Life
  5. Thankful for A Perfectly Flawed Life

6 Responses to Who are the Joneses in Your Life?

  1. Hi Jenny,

    I dig the article and the concept of “Keeping up with the Joneses” has some serious legs. I have a question for you though.

    How come most people don’t compare their internal accomplishments and resilience to other people’s? I’m not one for comparing anything between myself and another person, but if I did, it would be happiness, stress, freedom (financial or otherwise), and other harder to measure things. Some internal measurements are impossible to quantify, but I still fail to see what people have to gain from comparing the easy to see external awards of “success.”

    I guess Gail Sheehy nailed it when she said, “The prizes of our society are reserved for outer, not inner, achievements. Scant are the trophies given for reconciling all the forces that compete to direct our development.”

    • That’s a great question Joel! I think it’s so much more difficult to assess another person’s internal accomplishments against our own. It’s much simpler to take in the outward appearance of a person’s success and measure our internal (and external) accomplishments against that.

  2. “The truth is, 99% of the time, the outward displays we see are backed by a fat debt balance.”

    Love it! So true :)

    -Rich

    • I’ve found that it really does seem to be the truth in most cases. Of course, there are some that truly do have the means to cover the lavish lifestyle they lead. But I tend to see more people financing their way to the lifestyle they feel they deserve, rather than the one they’ve earned. ;)

  3. Jenny, indeed it we should not chase material good that hamper our financial health. But people often do it as a they are ignorant in managing personal finance.

    Thank you for your insights!
    Peter

  4. I think my Joneses change from day to day, but thee people who came into my mind first are actor, especially the actors on Big Bang Theory. A TV show where math is considered normal and physics is a common topic? Um, yes please. I personally think there show helped me decide to be a physics major, so in this instance, I think “keeping up with the Joneses” was beneficial.

    i think it can be healthy in small doses, but when it becomes an obsession is when it will be bad.

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