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 keep up with the Jones? I see it frequently with clients when I am mentoring them. “We couldn’t possibly cancel the holiday, it 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.
I have just finished reading a novel, The Deaths, by Mark Lawson, there are a number of really great one liners (no I won’t spoil the plot by telling you this one), it is my favourite:
“We were keeping up with the Joneses, but Jones was 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 prevalent everywhere, from the teenager who has to have the latest designer clothes and phone to look ‘cool’ (or whatever the latest term is this year, I have lost track), to the business owner driving round in the latest car when the taxes aren’t paid. It also applies to non financial areas of life, think of the stay at home mum who has to lose her baby fat six weeks after the birth of the baby.
So, why do we do this to ourselves? A lot of it has to do with peer pressure from friends, workmates and what we see in the media. As well as the desire to have the newest and best available.
Plus we love to show off; we want to be seen as being 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 own level of self esteem. We think we need to look and behave a certain way, have the toys to impress others to make ourselves feel happy.
But wait success shouldn’t be just about money, there are all those other important parts of success like family, happiness, and feeling good about ourselves.
How we do we stop keeping up with the Jones?
- Understand the difference between your needs and wants. Not others 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 Jones, you can ask the question. ‘Do I really need the new (insert your own word here), or do I just want it?
- Decide what ‘enough’ is, how much ‘stuff’ do you really need to make you happy?
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.