Many of us know the feelings of envy and jealousy when we encounter someone with more or better stuff than we have. We feel like we should have some of that neat stuff, too. But unfortunately, we can’t afford it. Still, we want what the “Joneses” have.
Some people avoid hanging with the Joneses because they don’t want to have these feelings of envy. Others avoid the Joneses because they don’t want to get pulled into spending more than they can afford. I can appreciate that.
I would prefer to not avoid friends just because they have more or better stuff than we do. Many people borrow beyond their means to get a bunch of stuff that they cannot afford, oftentimes to maintain an appearance of wealth. That is the cause of many credit problems. The answer, of course, is don’t try to keep up with anyone else.
Much of this keeping up with the Joneses is perpetuated by the sea of advertisers that daily accost us with “ways to make our lives better.” We have been lead to believe that all successful people drive new cars and live in big new houses. After all, that’s the American Dream. Perhaps it is time to change the dream.
Changing the dream does not necessarily mean changing or avoiding the Joneses. We all have friends who have things that we wish we had. Bottom line is, if you want to hang with the Joneses, you have to stop worrying about the stuff they have, and worry about yourself. Oprah Winfrey has championed one way to stop worrying about the Joneses. She says,
Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.
I wrote previously about the book, Flipping the Switch, in which John Miller gives many examples of personal responsibility. I have found that taking responsibility for your life is the best way to not be envious or jealous of the Joneses. You, yourself, are the only person that you have 100% control over. You are the person responsible for what you have and don’t have. If you want the good life that you perceive the Joneses have, then you need to do the work to obtain it.
If you go into debt trying to keep up with the Joneses, you have no one to blame but yourself. You do not have to go into debt to have nice stuff. There are many frugal ways to get or make nice things listed in Save and Conquer as well as other web sites, like Frugal For Life, beingfrugal.net, and a host of others found in Web carnivals like the Festival of Frugality. And as Oprah says, you can just be thankful for the wonderful things already in your life. It is up to you as to how you hang with the Joneses.
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