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Home > Tired of Keeping Up With The Joneses

Tired of Keeping Up With The Joneses

May 13th, 2011 at 11:11 am

The original post can be found here: Debt Free

You know them. They’re the family driving the shiny new cars, wearing the fancy new clothes, going on lavish vacations and sending their 2.3 children to private school. They have no financial worries, no need to budget, no money fights, and no concerns about retirement.

Hey everybody…It’s the Joneses! Everything in their world is easy. They have it all! Or do they?

“It’s not fair…” you may say. “Some people just seem to have it so easy. How do they live so well while I struggle just to pay the bills?”

It’s a good question. How can these young couples in their 20’s and 30’s buy the big house, drive new cars and go out to nice dinners every night? When Katy and I were newlyweds, we lived in a 600 sq. ft. apartment, drove 15 year old cars and regularly had to say no to going to dinner with friends.

Journalist and Author Shira Boss observes, “How we fit in and how we measure up are such an integral part of our financial well-being. We construct a fantasy world around those who have more money, and glorify their lives.”

Everyone in our culture seems obsessed with Keeping Up With The Joneses. But here’s the big secret….the Joneses…are broke

When you begin to ask the “Joneses” in your world, it turns out that they don’t own anything. Their big fancy house has a big hairy mortgage. Their cars, boats and stereo systems are all financed. And their big income is completely spent on payments before their paycheck even hits the mail. They have walked right into the trap of looking good but living broke! With credit cards, home equity loans, and “easy monthly payments,” it’s easy to look like you have more than you really do. But it’s a house of cards, and it won’t stand. Just ask the 2 million people that filed bankruptcy in 2010.

Vacations aren’t nearly as relaxing when you are still paying for them 3 years later. And the shiny new car isn’t as fun to drive when you are scrambling to come up with the $500 payment. The big house is no longer a blessing when the foreclosure notices start to come. This shiny, happy existence looks great from the outside. However, inside you will often find heartache, stress, money fights and fear that the bills may not get paid. This is no way to live….and all of a sudden, keeping up with the Joneses isn’t quite so appealing.

In his book “The Millionaire Next Door,” Thomas Stanley points out that the majority of actual wealthy people got that way by living on less than they make, staying out of debt, and saving their money. But no one looks at the person driving a used car and living in a modest home and thinks, “Wow, they must really be saving and building toward a great future…I bet they’ll be able to pay for their kids’ college…they will sure be able to retire comfortably.” Everybody envies the look of wealth. But very few are willing to do the things that wealthy people do, in order to become wealthy people themselves.

How can the Joneses afford to live that way? The truth is…they can’t.

So the moral of the story is…

Stop comparing yourself to the Joneses…or anyone else for that matter. You don’t need to impress them or anyone else. It’s not worth it!

True contentment comes from within. It’s easy to think that if I just had enough money, or more stuff or this new thing, then I’d be happy. But true contentment and joy come from things that money can’t buy. What are your fondest memories? What are the moments in life that have warmed your heart and made you smile the most? Would you trade any of those for a bigger bank account, larger house or newer car?

Yours In Freedom,


Don't forget to pick up your copy of the free E-book, "Wake-Up Call: The Eye-Opening Truth About Debt, by visiting http://www.DavisCoachingSolutions.com

6 Responses to “Tired of Keeping Up With The Joneses”

  1. patientsaver Says:

    Honestly, I don't think there are many "Jones'" out there anymore. The middle class is getting squeezed from every direction.

    No one lives like that anymore except the super-wealthy.

  2. Jerry Says:

    I believe there was a recent movie called "The Joneses" or something like that. I didn't see it, but my wife did, and she was telling me that it leads to some thoughts about this consumer lifestyle that is so prevalent among many people. I think it's worrisome, and it's dangerous, and it is absolutely impossible to have the insurance of peace within when you are only worried about comparing yourself to the neighbors.

  3. clintdavis Says:

    Thanks for the comment Jerry. I haven't seen it either, but is probably a sad commentary on the way many people live. I agree with you completely. There is no freedom or peace when you compare yourself to others. There is a great sermon I heard last year. You can check it out if you like. It's entitled, "The Sin of Comparison" by Robert Morris: http://bit.ly/mBoa7x

    Patientsaver, thank you for leaving a comment also. But I have to say, I disagree with you. The news media puppets are always talking about the "disappearance of the American middle class." Really? Go down to the lake on a summer day. All the people with the boats...are they only the super wealthy? Not where I live. The people with a big nice house they can't really afford...they aren't super wealthy. They're middle class people who try to live like they're super wealthy. But either way, the fact remains: there will always be someone with bigger, better, faster, newer, shinier. And if you are engaging in this "comparison mentality," you will never be satisfied and you will never have "enough." There are many poor people who live content and within their means, and there are many rich people who live over-extended and in debt up to their eyeballs. Whoever you are and whatever your financial status, be content and live on less than you make.

    Thanks again for the comments.

  4. patientsaver Says:

    Well, but how do you know the people on the boats you see, and the people with a nice home, are living beyond their means? I mean, unless you know them personally, perhaps the boat, or the home, is their priority, and they have cut back in other places. If they earn enough money to afford either, it's really up to them to spend as they wish. Maybe they're not trying to keep up with the Jones', but simply enjoy getting out on the water.

  5. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    I see my neighbors living seemingly wisely. So, yes, I do think of them, "Wow, they really must be saving toward a great future/taking care of themselves in their post working days." It really is not true that everyone tries to be like the Jones family. I'd like you to remember that lots of people do not have consumer debt. Lots of people are content with what their income can buy them now and into the future. I know you want to encourage people who have problems with debting, but isn't it also encouraging to know that many, many people do handle their finances well day in and day out for their entire lives?

  6. clintdavis Says:

    Hi Joan (and patientsaver),

    Let me be clear...there are people who don't have consumer debt. They are living within their means, saving for the future, and living responsibly. There's just not a lot of them.

    Over 2 million people filed personal bankruptcy in 2010.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, 70% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

    According to US News and USA Today
    56% of Americans DO have consumer debt.

    The total outstanding consumer debt in the U.S. was $11.7 TRILLION as of June 2010.

    The average American household with at least 1 credit card has $10,700 in credit card debt.

    30% of Americans have credit card debt.

    59% if baby-boomers have credit card debt.

    56% of baby-boomers have car payments

    40% of people who are in debt have monthly debt payments that are more than half of their monthly income.

    60% of people over 50 years old are in debt.

    Should I go on....???

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