Conspicuous spending or Keeping up with the Joneses and using money as a status symbol, used to be thought of as the prerogative of the rich and famous. Well not anymore.
Why do we feel the need to be keeping up with the Joneses? We see it frequently with clients, “We couldn’t possibly cancel the holiday, it simply wouldn’t look good.” So what! What is more important looking good or staying afloat financially? Well, it seems for many people, it is looking good in the eyes of others.
I recently finished reading The Deaths, a novel by Mark Lawson, there are a number of really great one liners but this is my favourite:
“We were keeping up with the Joneses, but didn’t realise the Joneses were broke!”
This is what happens when you start keeping up with the Jones. You have no idea who the Jones are trying to keep up with, or if they are faking it as well!
Keeping up with the Jones, isn’t something that happens with the supposed ‘rich’. It is all around us, from the teenager who “just has to have” the latest designer whatever (and let’s not forget the phone), to look ‘cool’, to the business owner driving in a new Lambo when their taxes aren’t paid and the business is looking terminal.
It also applies to non-financial areas of life, think of the stay at home Mum who must lose her baby fat six weeks after the birth of the baby.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
A lot of it has to do with pressure from workmates, our peer group, what we see in the media and even competitors. Plus, most humans can’t help but show off to some degree. We want to be seen as successful, to splash the cash around.
The easy availability of credit enables us to do this. We no longer work hard and save for what we want; instant gratification is rife.
It also comes from within ourselves and our lack of self-esteem. We think we need to look and behave a certain way, have the toys to impress others to make ourselves look successful, and let’s face it, to be liked.
But success isn’t just about money. There are all those other important parts of success like family, your personal achievements, happiness and feeling good about ourselves.
How we do we stop keeping up with the Joneses?
- Understand the difference between your Needs and Wants. Not other people’s Needs and Wants, but what is important to you and your family.
- Have clear goals that give you focus and something to work towards. So, when you get the urge to Keep up with the Joneses, ask yourself this, “Do I really Need the new
[insert your own word here], or do I just Want it?”
Once you make yourself and your goals the number one priority, you will be surprised to see how much easier it is to say No, and not worry so much about what everyone else thinks.
Our video on How to have a Healthy and Happy Money Relationship, has some relevant tips on happiness and success.
Financial success and happiness is about more than number, if you are looking to build the life you want, pick up the phone and call us.