Money Advice: Why Keeping Up with the Joneses Is a Bad Idea
By TLB Contributing Writer: Alden
No matter what you have, someone is always going to have something better.
If you have a Mini Cooper, you’re going to find yourself at a traffic signal next to someone in a Jaguar one day. Got a Jag? It will wind up parked next to somebody’s Rolls-Royce. And your Rolls-Royce will be overflown by somebody’s private jet.
But this is just one of the reasons keeping up with the Joneses is a bad idea. Here are some others.
They’re Probably Broke
In most cases, when we get caught up in this syndrome, we’re looking at the family next door that drives nicer cars, wears more expensive clothes and goes on and on about their fabulous vacations. However, rather than being greener on its own, the grass on that side of the fence is usually being watered with debt.
The fact of the matter is most people today are living beyond their means. According to a survey conducted by Bankrate, nearly a third of people aged 30 to 49 have more credit card debt than savings. So, while they may look good on the outside, the odds are high that they’re struggling financially.
You’ll Wind Up Broke Too
If you’re trying to match them move for move, you may wind up relying on credit cards to do it. Sure, it’ll be good at first—nice, easy and manageable. But as the Joneses escalate, if you’re trying to keep pace, you’ll have to escalate too. Just as the United States and the Soviet Union eventually came to realize, unchecked escalation only leads to mutually assured destruction. However, this is your life—not a Cold War. What’s more, you’re no sovereign nation, you’re just somebody trying make ends meet and live your life. Meanwhile, this thing with the Joneses will only serve to pull your ends farther apart.
There Are Better Ways to Impress People
Why spend money you don’t have, to get things you don’t need, to impress people you don’t even like? A Timex may be more accurate than a Rolex and a pair of $2,500 Ferragamo Italian loafers will eventually wear out just like a pair of Nikes. If you want to impress people who really matter, volunteer at a hospital. Feed the homeless. Become a Big Brother or a Big Sister. You’ll spend a lot less cash and you’ll make a real difference.
But What if It’s Too Late?
OK, so let’s say you just ran across this article, and you’re wondering why you didn’t see it before you were drowning in debt, barely able to make the minimum payments on all of those credit-card bills you’ve racked up. Or at least, unable to do so and meet all of your other obligations.
The good news is companies like Freedom Debt Relief may be able to help you get back on your feet and start the journey to financial freedom. They negotiate with creditors on your behalf to save you money and get you out of debt faster.
Once you get out of debt though, you have to be diligent to avoid getting into it again. And oh, by the way; be a good sport and tell the Joneses about it too. Just don’t be surprised when you discover they were trying to keep up with you.
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