And, of course, it seems natural to want to be normal, and to show that we have the resources to be like everyone else. Unfortunately, trying to keep pace with the Joneses doesn’t usually result in happiness. Instead, it often results in feelings of inadequacy and emptiness.
A lot of the time, what it really means is that you are keeping up with the debt that your neighbors have, rather than actually accomplishing anything solid with your money. It’s hard sometimes to stop comparing yourself to your neighbors, and it can be even harder to stop trying to keep up with them. Before you get too far down this path, though, try the following strategies to help you avoid going into debt in a quest to seem like someone else.
Identify Your Own Values and Priorities
Rather than looking outward to those around you, look inward. Figure out what’s important to you. What are your own values? What matters most to you and your family? When you take the focus off the things that other have, and look at your own personal values and priorities, it’s easier to say no to spending on things just because someone else has them.
Focus on spending on the things that you value, and you won’t be tempted to buy things that aren’t as important to you.
Express Gratitude for What You Have
It’s amazing how you can protect yourself against the desire to go out and buy stuff when you look at what you already have and express gratitude for it. It’s much easier to be content when you take the time to acknowledge the good in your life. From the things you have, to your family, to your health, to your friends, chances are you have things in life that make you feel rich. Focus on these things — especially the intangibles — and it will be easier to leave off trying to keep up with the Joneses.
Think of Your Financial Future
Finally, set goals that reflect your values. Since you know what’s important to you, it makes sense to set goals around those items. Setting clear goals can help you feel good about the way you use your resources, and prevent you from get caught up in a superficial race with the Joneses.
Recognize what you want in terms of financial stability, and then go for it. You’ll be in a better place, and you’ll feel good about the fact that your money is being used for the things that are most important to you.