The FOMO is real.
As social media usage continues to rise across all generations, more and more people are suffering from the “Fear Of Missing Out.” Adding insult to injury, studies show that trying to achieve and maintain a lifestyle similar to “Influencers” on and off social media results in an even higher state of FOMO. It's a never-ending cycle.
And it's not just the influencers on social media throwing the most lavish parties and driving luxurious cars. Your neighbors may be traveling to the most beautiful vacation spots and posting jealousy-inducing photos of five-star resorts.
These individuals and couples living the high life are known colloquially as “the Joneses.”
If you find yourself trying to keep up, you are not alone. According to a recent LendingTree survey, almost 40% of Americans have overspent to impress others, especially on clothes, shoes, or accessories. But splashing out on an extravagant lifestyle just to keep up appearances is a dangerous and unsustainable game.
Who Are the Joneses?
The phrase “Keeping up with the Joneses” originated from a comic strip in the 1900s. The comic touched upon how people compare themselves to their neighbors and peers as a way to determine what lifestyle they should have. Even though the comic was created in the early 1900s, it is still relevant to many people today.
It is human nature to want to follow in others' footsteps and be liked by others. We think we will feel happier and more accepted if we follow the herd. The pressure from social media platforms makes it easier for others to show off and brag about their accomplishments. Plus, with online shopping just a simple click away, it's hard to resist the impulse to buy.
There is nothing wrong with spending money on yourself, but when you start to live beyond your means or have trouble saving money, this can cause a spiral effect. There are several reasons why we try to keep up with the Joneses:
- The desire to display our success.
- The hunger to acquire what others have.
- The preference for instant gratification over hard work.
The Dangerous Joneses
It is easy to think the grass is always greener on the other side. However, there's nothing ‘green' about spending thousands of dollars a year on designer clothes to end up broke and bankrupt.
When you watch influencers, celebrities, and the uber-wealthy flaunt what they've got on TV and social media, it may seem like you are the only one who can't afford expensive things. In actuality, those who can afford luxury cars, private planes, and exotic homes only comprise 1% of the population.
Therefore, if you are trying to compete, you're liable to spend much more than you can afford. Unfortunately, some people think that the only way to keep up with the Joneses is to live beyond your means and increase credit card debt. This may feel harmless at first. However, it can quickly add up and get out of control.
Credit card debt is not the only thing that might accrue as you try to be one of the Joneses. Once you start keeping up with their lifestyle, it can be difficult to break the cycle. To keep up the facade, you might take out loans for things you cannot afford. But, like other forms of debt, loan payments can become a burden.
You may also find yourself digging into your savings account to buy even more. If you constantly spend, you won't have anything left to put toward savings, emergency funds, or retirement funds.
If you do not have an emergency savings account, you will not have adequate savings to fall back on if you lose your job or have a medical incident. Building an emergency fund can be the difference between getting out of a bad situation unharmed and going into more debt.
Keeping up with the Joneses can make you lose track of the things you have right in front of you.
Be grateful for what you have. If you have a roof over your head and food in your refrigerator, you have much to be thankful for. Make a gratitude list daily to remind yourself of everything you are grateful for.
It's also important to focus on what you value. If you do that, you're less likely to compare yourself to others and more likely to make choices that align with your goals. If you are focused on keeping up the Joneses, you have less time to do the things you actually enjoy. Writing a list of your financial goals can be a way to guide your spending so it reflects your values.
Even though comparing yourself with others is not always best for your well-being, it is important to understand that it is completely normal. So don't be too hard on yourself. Instead, focus on your accomplishments and give yourself praise.
High-flying influencers persuade their followers to part with their hard-earned money to buy their promotional goods. Unfollowing their accounts or cutting back on your social media use will go a long way in preserving your wealth. Look through the list of those you follow on social media and evaluate which one's make you more likely to spend money or bring negative energy. Then cut them.
Play Your Own Game
There are several clear benefits to not keeping up with the Joneses.
Once you have a clear understanding of your current financial situation and your financial goals, you can create a plan to get there. Once you know what you want, you can follow your plan with fewer distractions.
When you stop focusing on the Joneses, you will boost your confidence. You will care less about other people's opinions and focus more on what makes you unique. Life is about chasing your goals and doing things that are meaningful to you. Not about the home you live in or the car you drive.
Once you set your goals, the process of completing them becomes much easier. Smart goals are measurable and realistic to your needs. The first step to accomplishing your goals is to write them on paper.
Once you stop following in the Joneses' footsteps, you will discover you have money available to give to the people who mean the most to you and live a life you are passionate about.
Keeping up with the Joneses is a never-ending cycle that will only hurt you. If you let others control what you spend your money on, you will never reach your financial goals. Instead of worrying about what other people are doing, create and follow the vision of your own life. As you chart your own financial path, you may find that the Joneses are keeping up with you.
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