Your friends and neighbors may have big houses, new cars, and take amazing vacations without ever seeming to worry about money. Meanwhile, your life and bank account seems insufficient and you’re left longing to live in their shoes.
But there’s so much more to “keeping up with the Joneses” that you might not stop to consider whenever you get that feeling that you need to buy something to live a happy life like everyone else.
Before you feel bad again about how little you have compared to everyone around you, stop trying to keep up with everyone else and start considering the following:
1. Stop pretending you know everyone’s financial story
It’s easy to look around and see friends, neighbors, and coworkers with fancy cars and big houses and feel like you should have those things, too. But just because they have these things dones’t mean they’re well-off or even happy, and it’s possible they’re even drowning in debt.
With two-thirds of America living paycheck to paycheck and saying “It would be somewhat difficult or very difficult if their paychecks were delayed for a week,” it’s hard to believe that everyone around you is as financially healthy as they seem.
Before you try to copy the lives of those around you, don’t automatically assume they have it better than you do.
2. Stop thinking you can have it all now
You may be in a rush to achieve the lifestyle that your parents enjoy. But your parents didn’t get to that point overnight, as it likely took years for them to get there.
Exercise some patience and slowly build up to the comfortable lifestyle that you aspire to live instead of demanding it all right now.
3. Stop thinking you can go on without a budget
Budgets might not be fun, but they can be extremely helpful with planning. Going without one means you likely have little idea where you’re spending your money. It may be that you’re not spending wisely and investing adequately.
Unless you’re exceptionally good at handling your money and your net worth reflects that, get over the the idea of living without a budget and start using one regardless of what the Joneses do.
4. Stop blindly following the American dream
It’s easy to follow others in pursuit of the American Dream. A career, a car, a spouse, a house, and then kids. But do you know why you’re doing it? Is it because that’s what you want, or is it because that just feels like what you’re supposed to do?
Don’t simply follow along with the Joneses because everyone’s doing it. Follow the path for what you think is best for you and your family, and you might end up better off financially because of it.
5. Stop buying on credit
Credit and loans might create the illusion that all is good and well in your life, but you might really just be creating a financial mess.
Before it all comes crashing down on you later, realize that you can’t fund your dreams through loans. Try saving up for your big purchases first or even living without debt altogether.
6. Stop looking for more than what you have already
Because of the Joneses, you might think that you always need more to be happy. But if that’s your attitude, you may never actually end up getting there.
Be thankful for what you have and don’t equate owning more things with making your life better. If you aren’t happy, do something to change that, but don’t try to spend your way out of it.
7. Stop worrying about what people think
Don’t let others make you feel silly when you’re making the smart financial decisions when they’re not.
Who really cares what others think about your refusal to dine at fancy restaurants or your decision to keep driving that old clunker? Years down the line, when you’re enjoying the spoils of your hard work while they’re still struggling with debt, who will be laughing then?
8. Start faking it until you make it
If you’re sensitive to what others think and say about your lifestyle, fake your way through it instead of trying to keep up with the Joneses by buying and borrowing.
According to this article on Business Insider, you can act like you have it made without actually spending the money to do it. Dressing well on the cheap, keeping your car clean, and talking up the investments that you do have are all ways to fool others.
No matter what “faking it” means to you, feel confident that you’re making the right choices and that you’re on the right path to real financial freedom.