Trust me, I have been there. It started at a young age when my friend’s mom shopped for her at Macy’s and bought her Esprit and Guess brand clothes. She had a CD player before people knew what CD players were. I wanted what she had.
As the youngest of five, I watched my older sisters buy nice cars, buy homes, sell those homes and buy bigger homes. I wanted what they had.
Now I hear co-workers talk of their epic vacations, I see friends invest in real estate, I watch women change their Coach purses like they change their socks. So I should have all those same things too right? Well, my bank account says no, so now what?
It’s a vicious cycle. Never having enough, always wanting more. We think darn it, it’s not fair that “they” always take great vacations; it’s not fair that “they” have such a nice house, or how do they redecorate/remodel their home annually? How can I have as much as them!!??
Well I’m confident in telling you that the Joneses really don’t have it all that great. It’s highly probable that “those” people you admire cannot afford what they have. They likely argue about money. They might have refinanced their home so many times that it won’t be paid for until they are 102. They might pay minimum monthly amounts on their credit card but continue to use them for all of the latest fashions. Their huge house might be 56 degrees in the winter because they can’t afford to heat it. Bottom line, you don’t get to see the behind the scenes.
As the band Cake once sung, how do you afford your rock and roll life style? So how are they doing what you can’t? Sure, banks extend credit to people for their cars and their homes and their Nordstrom card, but then those people eat Top Ramen for dinner because they have no money left for food. The average credit card debt for an American household is over $15,000. If a family has a mortgage (or rent), car payments, child care, basic living expenses, maybe a little fun now and then….where do they also come up with the cash to pay down that credit card debt too? Oh, and of course, continue to keep up with the Joneses? I don’t know, but struggle, they must.
Another possibility is that “the Joneses” really do work that hard to earn the money they use to pay for their luxurious living. In that case it lends the question- what is the quality of life that you would like to have? What good is owning a $100,000 motorhome if you are always working too hard to find time to use it? Do you want to put in overtime and carry a $400 purse or stay home on Saturday and use the one from last season? Could you maybe just rent a kayak, boat, etc. instead of getting yourself into more debt and responsibility by owning one? Do you want to stress about stretching every last dollar or feel great about the money you can comfortably save for retirement?
So my opinion? Cause you know I have one…
- I don’t care how much you want those super cute, going to wear them all the time (ok, twice) shoes. If you don’t have the cash to put down for them (without sacrificing your grocery budget), YOU CAN’T AFFORD THEM.
- The new car smell is intoxicating, but I am not jealous of a $700 a month payment. Your car payment should be relevant to the money you make.
- A 3,000 square foot house takes a lot of manpower to clean. And money to heat and cool. I wish I had learned this one sooner….
- A leather designer purse might last YEARS, but I prefer to change mine out with the seasons with ones from Marshalls. And if I spill on it, I will just wipe it up instead of cry.
- More toys, bigger toys, expensive toys do not make you happy.
I admit, I am not impervious to relapsing. It’s hard when you feel like you work so darn hard for what you have, to see others who make it look so easy, have or do more. But while I love the ridiculous amount of Christmas décor I have and I fight the urge to buy new running gear on every outing, I have taken time to examine what I really need, what I can afford, and bottom line, what really matters to me. I am constantly working towards adjusting my budget and lifestyle to make it all gel.
I don’t want to be a Jones, I’m happy as an Esparza. If that means giving up a car when the going gets tough, buying some things second-hand, and saving up for special occasions, that’s just fine by me.