It’s the American “dream” to have two cars, two incomes, kids, pets, gadgets, a nice yard, a beautiful home both inside and out, and take vacations every year to gorgeous and exotic locations. We want all of this along with a fat bank account. But what is it costing you?
Your friends go to the nicest restaurants and latest movies and so do you. They have the coolest phones and computers, so naturally you need them too. But what is it really costing you?
With this type of lifestyle, you will likely wake up one day and realize you’re in debt up to your eyeballs. How did that happen? Because you were trying to keep up with the Joneses instead of paying attention to how you spend your money and making financial decisions based on what you truly value instead of what society tells you that you should value.
Wondering how exactly keeping up with the Joneses ruins your budget? Here’s how and what you can do about it.
PS. The Joneses suck* and you need to stop chasing them. Chase your own dreams, not those manufactured by someone else.
*If your last name is Jones, I’m not specifically saying you suck. This is about the facade of the money stigma.
You Think You “Deserve” It
You work hard, so you “deserve” some rewards, right? Any purchase can be justified with this argument and thus it’s a very dangerous line of thinking. We don’t deserve anything, we have to work for our rewards.
Unfortunately, if you reward yourself with something extravagant on a regular basis, you eventually have to pay the price. These items themselves are expensive, and chances are that you’ll continually have to push the limit by treating yourself to bigger and bigger rewards to feel the same joy. Plus, the joy felt from these “treats” is often short-lived.
It can be hard to deny yourself treats like a vacation when all of your friends are taking trips to exotic places and you aren’t, but if you really want a reward for working hard, go to a movie or get ice cream instead of racking up hundreds or thousands in debt going on a vacation you can’t afford. A vacation or other expensive reward will just undo the progress you achieved to “deserve” the reward in the first place.
Using Credit Cards Is Too Easy
Let me give you a scenario with this one.
You go shopping with friends and find a new outfit you really want, so you pull out your plastic and tell yourself you’ll pay it off right away. But a few days later your air conditioner quits and you have to pay for it to be repaired.
When the credit card bill comes you make the minimum payment with the intention of paying more next month. A few weeks later you realize you completely forgot to purchase a gift for your best friend’s wedding. You want to impress her, so out comes the credit card again so you can buy the crystal glasses on her registry and the cycle continues.
Soon your bills are out of control and the stress is overwhelming. Credit cards are too easy to get and too easy to use. A good way to keep your spending under control is to limit the number of cards you have to one or two and only use if you can really trust yourself to use credit wisely. Remember, credit cards aren’t evil or the true cause that puts us in debt. It’s our habits and money mindsets. If you can’t trust yourself with credit, don’t use it.
You Want to Fit In
It can be hard to speak up and tell your friends or family that you can’t afford to eat at the pricier restaurant where they chose to hold a reunion. You don’t want to be the party pooper or let everyone else down. So you go along with it even though you can’t afford it.
It’s all too easy to take this approach in order to stay popular with everyone else. But the fact is, you really don’t know what everyone else’s situation is like either. They could be just as financially strapped as you are. While you are trying to fit in with them, they are trying to fit in with you. It’s OK to let them know another choice would be better for your budget. If you speak up and say so, you might find out they feel the same way.
It’s not bad to want the American dream. Just make sure you don’t go broke while you’re chasing it, and make sure you stay true to your own values instead of just trying to keep up with the Joneses.
Can you think of other reasons why keeping up with the Joneses ruins your budget?
I Save $50 Per Month Using This TV App
I cut my cable nearly five years ago because I was tired of paying for shows I didn’t watch. While I missed TV, I’ve found better solutions like DirecTV NOW. It’s a monthly on-demand streaming service with packages as low as $35. It’s saved me nearly $50 per month because I can watch when I want. The best part is I can cancel at any time!