Create Your Own Standards
I’m going to say this once: Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. Why? Because they’re broke.
You know, it’s interesting, because I work in sales, so I meet a lot of people every day. One of the most common themes I’ve seen since day one is the need to do the same or better than your friends or neighbors.
It’s human nature to want what other people have. Especially when you are looking at their lives through your phone, on social media, where all you see is the glitz and glamor.
I once heard this old saying about how you shouldn’t envy other people until you see the full picture. If you think about it, though, all we ever do see is a hugely edited part of their lives.
I have this one very good friend who, when you look at her Instagram, her life just looks perfect. But her life isn’t perfect. The vacations and experiences that she posts aren’t, either. Whenever I go out to dinner with her, everything seems to be a lot less about the food, the restaurant, and having a good time and a lot more about the image she is desperately trying to build for her viewers.
We all see posts and pictures like this every day. The problem with them is that there are too many parts cut out. The parts with the complete dread on their face when they open their credit card statement. The parts where all they feel is stress because they just checked their checking account balance and they don’t know how they’ll pay rent. So many people are going broke just trying to look rich. All this creates is anxiety and financial ruin.
Our society has become so accustomed to debt, where buying things we want now and worrying about how to pay for them later is the accepted norm. Someone can look like they are doing extremely well financially, when in actuality, they owe the shoes off their feet and then some. We are so OK with signing for thousands of dollars of debt as long as the monthly payment doesn’t seem too high.
We are trained not to look at the total cost of any given object for sale and instead see just the monthly payment. Many people don’t understand this and get lost in an almost endless cycle of debt.
It’s sad, really, how so many of the people we are surrounded by are living above their means, and can’t keep up with the lifestyle they have created for themselves. Start doing what is best for you and your future, instead of focusing on what people think.
Never put your financial security in jeopardy just to look like you’re doing “really great” in front of your friends and family. It will more than likely catch up to you.
I do understand the feeling, though. While I was putting away my first few paychecks, most of my friends were buying designer clothes, shoes and bags; they were traveling and eating out all the time. Their monthly income was their monthly allowance. There was close to no concept of saving. On more than one occasion, I thought about spending the way they did, living in the moment, not thinking about the future at all. Yet, once I had a couple paychecks saved up, I had no desire to keep up with those friends in terms of the way they lived and spent. The reason behind this is that I had already become clear about my own values.
By gaining clarity on what was important to me and my financial future, I knew if I gave it a couple months, I would be a lot closer to my goals.
Something I’ve also worked on in the past few months that has helped immeasurably with not having the urge to spend irresponsibly is stopping to compare. We are all different people. Just because it looks like everyone is buying the new iPhone, it doesn’t mean I need to do so as well. I wanted to, originally. But then I asked myself, what is it really that I don’t like about my current iPhone?
The answer to that was simple. It wasn’t that I had a problem with my phone, per se. It was just that I felt like I was the only one without the newest iPhone. And trying to “keep up” with other people should never be a motive to purchase something.
So define what is most important to you. Don’t get caught in the system where you are buying certain bags and going on three vacations a year when you really could barely afford one, just trying to impress your neighbors and friends. Do what’s best for you; create prosperity and a debt-free future!