Monday, March 31, 2014

Who Are Your Joneses?

Keeping Up with the JonesDo you ever get sick of the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses"? I know I do! But, it's the easiest way to describe the feeling that people, especially Americans, have to "keep up appearances" by purchasing things they don't want or need, and usually can't afford just to impress the people around them.

For some, the Joneses are their neighbors or co-workers. Others' Joneses may be their family, like siblings, or cousins. For me there's more than one Jones that I've found myself trying to out-do over the years. Currently, my worst Joneses are actually my BFF and her hubby. I finally figured it out over the weekend when they came to visit.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love my BFF and her hubby and I don't think they intentionally try to out-do me. I'm sure they probably have Joneses of their own, but I doubt that I'm one of them. When they showed up at my house this past Friday night, my BFF mentioned that she needed the Internet code to look up a recipe we were needing:

Her: "I need the Internet code so I can find the recipe." Pulls out a tablet-like device.
Me: "Your Kindle Fire didn't save the code from the last time you were on my network?"
Her: "This is my Ipad, I haven't used it here. We just got them last week."
Me: "Oh you both got one? Cool!"
Her: "Yeah, Hubby's is for his birthday. I just got one because I wanted one."
Me: "I see." In my head I add, "must be nice, I don't even have a Kindle Fire".

Then I proceed to spend the next few minutes alternating between feeling guilty for thinking that way since it's my own fault I'm in debt and can't afford gadgets like these, and envious of their cool new toys.

They also got a new to them used car just about a year ago, which instilled more of the same feelings then too, but that's a whole 'nother story.

When trying to defeat the need to "Keep up with the Joneses", knowing who your Joneses are can go a long way.

It really helps in my case that my BFF and her hubby don't intend to make me feel that way. After all, they don't know about my debt situation, so it's not like they are intentionally rubbing all their new stuff in my face while knowing I can't afford similar things.

The next step to defeat the need to "keep up" is to feel genuinely happy for some one's success instead of jealousy for their possessions. Of course, this is easier said than done. I don't have this skill mastered yet, but I'm working on it.

You don't know their story. They may have worked very hard and saved up for the new Ipads and car, which is great! But it's possible they didn't save and instead they financed the whole thing. There's no real way to know, so try not to feel envious of something that may have set them farther back on the debt path.

The third tip to defeating the Joneses is to curb your wants. When you get a case of the "I wants" it can be really hard to deal with and it's usually easier to give in to yourself and buy whatever it is. But soon the feeling of excitement from the new possession will wear off, leaving you with more debt and farther away from your end goals.

I have a list of wants. Whenever I want something, I write it down. I may or may not purchase it in the end, but I start by listing each item and the pros and cons of buying it. I make myself think the purchase over very carefully before deciding. Even then, it will likely be several months before much of anything is purchased off of this list.

My current list includes a Kindle Fire, a new computer, a some-what expensive hair product I like, and some new workout equipment. Will I end up purchasing everything on the list? Maybe, maybe not, but having the list to refer to when I have some extra income will be handy to keep me on track and away from frivolous, silly purchases I may regret later.

Who are your "Joneses" and how do you deal with the need to "keep up" with them?

Note: This post includes affiliate links from the Amazon Associates program. If you buy anything from Amazon by clicking one of my links, even if what you buy is not the linked item, I will earn a small commission.

Another Note: Did you see my mention over at The Pursuit of Riches? Here is the the post in case you missed it. :)

Another-nother note: If you are interested in guest-posting at Shoeaholicnomore, email me at shoeaholicnomore[at]gmail[dot]com!

16 Comments:

At March 31, 2014 at 9:33 AM , Anonymous Laurie @thefrugalfarmer said...

Great post, SHNM! I think knowing who your Joneses' are is key, and I also think making your own goals is key too. Then you can say "My Joneses may have A, B or C, but I'm working toward D, and that is SO much more important to me".

 
At March 31, 2014 at 9:59 AM , Blogger shoeaholicnomore said...

Thanks Laurie! I have more than one set of "Joneses" for sure and I know that keeping my goals in mind when facing them helps me stay on track. :)

 
At March 31, 2014 at 11:48 AM , Anonymous Catherine said...

So important to remember who you're trying to compare yourself to. I have a friend who works in the same career as me and has about the same amount of debt as I do but manages to go on trips and shop all the time...then I remember that she doesn't have kids yet but her and her husband really want them it's just not working. I may have three year old scrubs to wear and minimal vacations but I have a daughter and family I wouldn't trade for anything.

 
At March 31, 2014 at 11:55 AM , Blogger shoeaholicnomore said...

You are totally right Catherine! It's all about perspective and everyone has different priorities.

 
At March 31, 2014 at 12:09 PM , Anonymous E.M. said...

Having both a kindle fire and an iPad is such a waste! That kind of reminds me of my coworker: her fiance just got a new car and now she wants one. It's important to be happy with what you have. Jealousy is an evil thing, but I succumb to it mostly with my family as my friends are pretty frugal. My aunt just leased a new car and then my cousin went and followed suit. I like my car but sometimes I feel "behind" with my student loans holding me back.

 
At March 31, 2014 at 12:48 PM , Blogger shoeaholicnomore said...

EM - I agree that it is really wasteful to have both. In fact, I think it's stupid. When I approached that area with her by asking why she has both, I don't remember her exact response, but she basically blew off the idea that it was dumb/wasteful. Oh well... Like I said in my post, who knows if they saved up for these things or it they charged them. If they saved for them then I guess it's their money to do with whatever they want. If they charged them then they'll be paying for it eventually.

 
At March 31, 2014 at 3:39 PM , Anonymous Girl Meets Debt said...

Great Post! My "Jones" used to be my friends who I viewed as all being more rich and successful than I was. Now I don't really have any Jones in my life which is nice. :)

 
At March 31, 2014 at 3:49 PM , Blogger shoeaholicnomore said...

Wow GMD! Good for you :) What a feat to have no "Jones" in your life, I hope to get there one day too. Recognizing who they are is a good start for me.

 
At March 31, 2014 at 7:39 PM , Blogger Amanda Simple said...

Really great post! I've stopped looking at other people and focusing on my bank account. When I see it grow each and every week, it makes me feel so much happier than having lots of nice things. It actually makes me sad when I see a person who might be close to me who has lots of great stuff, but who might be teetering on the edge of financial competence.

 
At March 31, 2014 at 9:42 PM , OpenID thepursuitofriches said...

I have a friend who likes to mention 'money' - how much she earns to how much she spend. I used to be intimidated and annoyed by that, until I realized there's only one reason why I would 'brag' about that... and it'd be to cover my insecurity. Ever since, I have been able to put that in perspective.
The Joneses mostly try to pull your focus to their 'wealth', so you don't notice what else there is to see... :)

 
At April 1, 2014 at 6:03 AM , OpenID debtdebs said...

Alas, I have Jones next door, in my family, my friends, at work but I've solved the problem by how I look at them. (WISDOM) First of all, there are probably areas in their life that are not so rocking. (COMPASSION). I'm truly happy for them and all they've accomplished (LOVING). Also, I know that the green eyed monster does not help my spiritual growth (ENVY). Lastly, if all else fails, I think referring to them by their real names and not the JONESES, will help immensely. (HUMOUR)

I really liked this post, BTW. I have a tablet on my list. It will be a long time before I get one. But I know when I do I will value it so much after patiently waiting until the time and money were right.

 
At April 1, 2014 at 7:49 AM , Anonymous Shannon @ Financially Blonde said...

My Joneses used to be my good friends and it hard to have your friends be the Joneses because they are "in your face" all of the time. When I became a financial advisor, though, and started looking under the covers of people's finances, I realized that the Joneses had hideous bank and credit card statements and I stopped feeling envious of them.

 
At April 1, 2014 at 10:06 AM , Blogger shoeaholicnomore said...

That's just it Amanda. I finally realized that I don't know their financial situation, nor do I want to in most cases, so I need to stop being jealous. Especially if they took on more debt to get these supposedly "great" items. Instead I need to use my energy to better my situation, which is something I can actually control.

 
At April 1, 2014 at 10:07 AM , Blogger shoeaholicnomore said...

Little Miss Money, This is a great example. Yes, I have bragged about things before and it was generally to hide something else that I was insecure about. Grea perspective!

 
At April 1, 2014 at 10:08 AM , Blogger shoeaholicnomore said...

These are some great tips! I have a pretty hefty wish list right now with several things that will be pretty expensive... I know it will take quite a while before I get them and that I will appreciate them that much more.

 
At April 1, 2014 at 10:10 AM , Blogger shoeaholicnomore said...

This is so true. The funny thing is, my BFF went to grad school for personal financial planning, then decided she hated it and switched to something else... Makes me wonder if it was truly the topic she hated or if she hated her own financial situation and didn't feel comfortable talking about finances because of it... Oh well!
Thanks for sharing!

 

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