How to not keep up with the Jones's?
So much about money is mental. I can go 2 weeks and spend very little. I can be strong. But then something emotional happens, and I'm like "forget it". My biggest struggle is comparison. We don't live beyond our means. My husband makes a good salary. Yet so many of our friends seem to be able to do so much more than us. I realize I have no idea what kind of debt, if any, they are carrying. But we own our home, have a $320 car payment, and normal bills. (and we don't have HBO or Showtime.) That's it. But yet one weekend trip to see family can kill my budget.My real life friends have trainers, take fancy vacations, private schools, eat out all the time, and drive 3 new cars. I try to tell myself that they are very much over extending, but I don't know. Yes, I have no doubt that once I'm with YNAB for a few months, I'll be better able to do the things. But I'm wondering if anyone else is feeling this? Do you think they are overspending? I know once retirement hits, we are going to be golden. That's why we have worked so hard to have a great retirement.
I know we live within our means. We don't have the flashiest cars, we didn't choose to live in the swankiest neighborhood, and I don't wear expensive jewelry. I know a lot of people value those things so they do. Choices have consequences. Our choices mean that our kids won't have to borrow as much for college as a lot of kids and that we'll likely be able to retire in our 60s and not have to work if we don't want to. I don't keep up with the Joneses. I don't have the same priorities as others. I know for a fact the family who prioritizes traveling has at times had a lot of credit card debt. I value security more than traveling, so we don't travel as much. It is what it is, and it's been a very long time since I've paid interest on a credit card and it never took more than a month or two to pay off an expensive purchase we put on credit card lo those many years ago.
My car is old enough to go to college. It looks like crap. It has a persistent water leak in the roof. We could purchase a new or used car outright but those dollars have jobs like Vet Fund and New Windows. It's now a bigger priority and we have a plan to divert more of our disposable income to the new car category over the next 12 months, at which time we'll have enough money stashed for a reasonable used car outright or as a down on a more expensive car.
Choices have consequences. I'm comfortable with my choices to live conservatively. Yes, I'd like to drive a nicer car, but not at the expense of having to pay $700 of car loan notes each month.
I know once retirement hits, we are going to be golden. That's why we have worked so hard to have a great retirement.
Maybe that's a way to find out if your friends are overextended. Ask what are their plans for retirement. If they are like: "What retirement?", you'll know where they stand.
Technicolor Cheetah said:
our kids won't have to borrow as much for college as a lot of kids
And another one. I know from some of your other posts, you have saved to send 3 kids to college without them taking on loans (well, just loans from the Mum and Dad bank). What about your friends? Anyway you can get to know about how their kids fund college.
And I would assume your friends have fewer kids. We also have 3 kids and a lot of our friends have 1, max. 2. Recently, some parents with 1 kid had somewhat forgotten we are still paying childcare for 2 of them (yeah still a lot to pay on the kids here :)) and were just "oh, right! That's why".
Forget about the Jones! You need to do what is best for you and your family. Just imagine that the Jones are deep in debt. They probably are. You can sleep well at night while they worry about how they're going to dig themselves out of their deepening debt doo doo. Plus, in time as you get reserves built up, you too will be able to do some fun activities and have some nice things.
After many years of YNAB, I've done some things I never thought I'd do such as buying a business class round trip flight from California to NY (wow, I can lay flat!), paying cash for a new car, and going on a 3 week Scandinavian vacation. All this while sending 2 kids through college with the first accruing a grand total of $5500 of debt while the other made it through with zero debt.
You do it your way and let the Jones do it their way. Not all is as it appears on the outside.
Forget about the Jones!
Agree 100%. Never liked them anyway. I like what Dave Ramsey says, live like no one else today so later in life you can live like no one else. He also mentioned that the new status symbol is being debt free vs a new BMW in the driveway. Not exact quotes but you get the picture.
The debtor is slave to the lender so strive for freedom.
Thanks everyone, I realized I didn't word it well. I don't care about having new cars every time a friend does. 😀And I know that comparing is the devil. LOL I was wondering if it ever gets you down, and how you cope with that. Most days I can deal by naming all the things we are doing right. (and yes, we are darn proud that our kids can borrow from us, at 1% interest) I love the comment about the car being old enough to go to college! We have an '03 and '06! LOL Technicolor Cheetah try flex seal spray on that sunroof! It works pretty well.
I was having a pity party for myself. I was trying to figure out a quick trip to go see my brother's band play, and moving money around. I kept thinking it shouldn't be this hard. Which is why in the past I just ignored it an then the next month scrambling, I'll get over it. 😎 I know I'm a pest this past week. Trying to keep myself motivated. You are nice people. Thanks!
Yeah, funny thing about that. Like others have said, it's likely most of the Joneses aren't nearly as well off as they seem - they maybe APPEAR wealthy, but may actually have huge and debt and little to no retirement income waiting for them.
Don't bother trying to keep up with them.
Some may truly be in a great financial situation, and if so good for them.
Others may be drowning in debt and one day they'll be looking at you wondering how you are coasting along fine when they are struggling to make ends meet (hint - priorities and responsible money management!).
Don't try to keep up with the Joneses now, and someday the Joneses will be trying to keep up with you! ;)
Momofboysx3 I too sometimes wonder where do these people get their money!!! I wonder have I done that bad at budgeting our money when I see our co-workers going on yearly vacations and driving new vehicles or purchasing a house double what our cost without blinking an eye? Maybe, but I know that I won't have a mortgage when I'm 70 and I'm not taking out loans for things like windows and a new roof.
Just today I was looking at a newer used suv. I have a nice suv, but it's just too small. The price tag on a newer suburban is just too big. I want to retire someday.
For me when I look at the Joneses I think about a person that my dad once told me about. This person was always dressed to the 9's everything about them was immaculate, but if you stepped into their home it was quite the opposite. Everything was in chaos. I don't want my financial life to be in chaos so I try to focus on the fact that my money has an important job and I choose what those jobs are, not the world around me. And I know how upset I would truly be if I spent that money, not on my extra mortgage payment but on a new car.
Like Technicolor Cheetah said a fund for those trips it what I would suggest even though it probably won't solve the immediate concern, but it will help with future trips.
I choose not to see the Joneses - took Facebook off my phone.
I know you said most of these people are in real life so I get it- I live in one of the wealthiest U.S. suburbs so I'm surrounded, as well. But like you say, you never know the real story.
I just keep plugging along, watching my net worth rise by investing and paying off my home and staying out of consumer debt. I never suffered from comparison envy, but in the past few years really discovered that I truly don't care what others have - therefore, I never get "down" about it. Instead, I busy myself in net worth projection spreadsheets and plan my future. :)
I have enough (and do have a lot of nice things, to boot!). I AM enough.
Ah, yes, the Joneses. Lovely people. My two closest friends became a pediatrician and a neurologist. The pediatrician then married a dentist and the neurologist married a successful engineer.
Meanwhile I haven't married and went into insurance, and just about the time I started making "real" money, I changed careers. So I know the Joneses well. My best friend literally has "My husband just came home with a convertible without telling me first" money. (Note to husbands out there: regardless of your income, this will still cause a fight!)
Knowing that once your retirement hits you'll be golden is an amazing thing that doesn't show on the outside. If the Joneses knew, they might wish they were keeping up with you! But even if they are fully funding their 401(k)s and have college funds in place for the kiddoes, our lives can't be about what other people do if we want to be happy in them. Why not try thinking about what doesn't cost a lot of money but makes you feel rich? For me it's having an indulgent place to sleep/return to at the end of the day. So my queen size bed has 10 pillows on it, two cashmere-soft throws, and a down-alternative comforter. Literally every time I walk into my miniscule bedroom and snuggle up on my bed I feel joyous. The kind of comfort and peace that I can't put a price on. Then I light my vanilla scented candles and positively wallow in MY definition of luxury. And, yes, I spent a few hundred dollars on it at a time when money was tight. But I don't want a convertible. I want an amazing haven in my bedroom, a career I truly love, a debt-free life, and good friends to spend it with.
And the best thing about being rich in friends? That's the kind of wealth that serious illnesses or job losses or divorces can't deplete.
Don't let your admirable focus on retirement prevent you from occasionally treating yourself now. The secret isn't to keep up with the Joneses. It's to know that you don't have to want what they have.
Technicolor Cheetah said:
I know we live within our means. We don't have the flashiest cars, we didn't choose to live in the swankiest neighborhood, and I don't wear expensive jewelry. I know a lot of people value those things so they do. Choices have consequences.
I live in a really nice town that has a lot of wealth. Some of it true, some of it probably debt. But I am finding since YNAB & my financial journey, I'm becoming more frugal, more into simple living, more into minimalism (esp after doing the Marie Kondo purge this past year), and less interested in social media. I'm tired of how shallow people have become. I think the debt-free movement is also an Anti-Joneses movement. I'm happy to be a part of it.
A lot of my married friends in my town (book club from my old neighbourhood) have become boring in my eyes since all they talk about are their kids' hockey schedules, private schools, cottages, renos, & vacations. In turn, I'm becoming closer with my neighbours who all live in townhouses & semi-detached houses, many with 3 or 5 kids, but they are all happy & down to earth. Spring-Fall we are all outside having drinks, potlucks, & street parties and lots of laughs. We all talk constantly, but it's not about indirect monetary status & possessions. While I am divorced and often don't feel a part of either my married friends, or married neighbours, I feel closer with my married neighbours. The men are my friends as are the women. I've made a lot of friends in my ski club, many who are single or divorced, but very few have kids like me. Sometimes I don't know where I belong, but most of the time I feel happy to be independent and a part of both worlds. I count my blessings and it is very encouraging to work towards my goal of being financially independent on my own. I will get rid of my LOC debt & car lease. I will pay off my mortgage. I will have a investments into retirement. And those goals bring me happiness, which shows in my face. Better than any expensive cream my married friends are using.