Keeping up with the Joneses

We have some friends who seem to have an AMAZING life. They both own luxury cars, they have a vacation house somewhere warm (and fly there all the time. Like every other weekend). Facebook makes them look like they are doing VERY well, financially. I am sure you have similar friends- they travel all the time to amazing places (how do they get the vacation days?? That is my biggest question!) and they have great clothes and great cars and maybe they just bought a house and you are still renting with three roommates….You wonder how they got there and why you aren’t there yet, and maybe you are jealous and you wonder what you did wrong.

I have a few things to say about this.

There are a few ways they could have gotten there, and many reasons why you should not compare yourself.

1. They come from money and their family resources are allowing them to live like this. Do you have a wealthy family who gives you money to travel or buy houses or fancy cars? Me neither. I didn’t do anything wrong, and my friends aren’t succeeding at life any more than I am. They just come from a wealthier family.

2. They are SUPER successful at their jobs and can afford it. Good for them! That is awesome and you should be thrilled that your friend has found a sweet gig that they hopefully enjoy. if they don’t enjoy it- then they will either hate their jobs and carry on, or switch to a different job which might or might not allow them to maintain this lifestyle. Everyone who works has these same questions to deal with, with varying income levels.

3. They are in debt. Do you know what their finances look like? I COULD buy a Porsche right now if I went into debt for it. I just don’t want to have to make those payments every month, because there are other things that I want my money to go to and you know how much I hate paying interest. This is a choice I am very happy with, but other people might want the Porsche enough that debt is worth it.

4. They can afford it today but they aren’t planning for tomorrow. Maybe they have a vacation house on the beach but no emergency fund, no retirement savings, and no spare money for other savings goals. Everyone makes different financial choices, but I would choose to have a cushion now and a retirement not in the poorhouse over a fancy lifestyle today.

So think about those friends who have it all. Do you know which category they fall in? Probably you don’t. You might think they come from family money, but maybe they are in debt. Maybe you thought they were loaded because of their good job, but maybe they inherited a big chunk of money. Keeping up with the Joneses is a tough trap to fall into, and it is harder to remember to that YOU make your financial choices based on YOUR LIFE. Just remember that you never know what other people’s Mint accounts look like, no matter what kind of car they drive.

I’ll leave you with this lovely article about being thankful for what you have.

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