Why Keeping Up With the Right Joneses is Good for Your Budget

When your neighbor unveils their latest model electric car, or invites you over to christen their new swimming pool, it’s hard not to feel a tiny stab of… something. Whether that feeling is envy or relief, is entirely up to your mindset. Ruth Henderson encourages us to discern between the type of Joneses we encounter. Some, she says, we should avoid, and others, we could learn great money lessons from.

We have all heard of The Joneses. They might even live next door to you. You know the ones – elegant house, nice cars, regular holidays, and lots and lots of STUFF.

They have created the impression to outsiders looking in that they are absolutely minted. Still, if we had the opportunity to dig a little deeper into their financial lives, we would see that it’s a facade of mortgage, credit card, and personal debt all tied up in a whole heap of stress. Once we understood that they were paying a hefty price for everything they had, we would perhaps covet their lives a little less. I don’t want to live like them because sometimes, keeping up with the Joneses isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

All that glitters is not gold

With mass marketing and ‘buy now pay later’ offers coming at us from all angles, it’s not difficult to be tempted to put pressure on your budget to buy the next big thing. And when you look around at The Joneses, it’s pretty easy also to be excited by what they seem to have too.

But you are not them and their financial situation is different from yours. If you were to get a peek inside their financial life, you might be shocked at what you see. So, don’t covet what your neighbors have because you might not know the half of it, and it might just lead you down the path of a bad money habit.

Keep an eye out for good money mentors

But if you were to take a walk around The Joneses neighborhood and were given a free pass to approach any other house and ask after their financial situation, you might discover a whole heap of other Joneses whose lives you might be more inspired by.

These Joneses tend to live a little more modestly and privately. They may also have a few of the toys that you associate with wealth. The difference is that these Joneses actually own what they have. They prioritize saving money towards their financial goals over getting into thousands of dollars in credit card debt for things they can’t afford. 

These are The Joneses that you and I can learn from.

It’s time to reevaluate measures of success

Let’s talk about how we can change our mindsets. Instead of comparing yourself to The Joneses who get it wrong, I would encourage you to instead think about what you can learn from The Joneses who get it right. Use their financial knowledge to help you steer clear of bad habits and instead focus on emulating the good habits. That’s something that I try to do whenever I’m given the opportunity.

I like to meet interesting people and find out why they might be successful and happy. I ask myself what they can teach me. How can they help me make better money decisions for myself?

In my mind at least, success is not just measured by the type of car someone may drive, but more by the level of contentment people have with their life. And to me, contentment comes when you can feel in control of the decisions you are making.

The word of the day is ‘discernment’

I’m a relatively straightforward person, and if someone is showing me their new car, boat, house, or photos of their latest holiday, I’ll often ask a question along the lines of, “How did you pay for it?”

Because I’m only impressed by The Joneses that have paid cash!

And if they have, then I want to know more about this person and their “why and how”. Because here is the thing, we can learn an awful lot of great money habits from The Joneses who are doing well, and I want to learn from the Joneses who are doing it right, don’t you?

Your job is to sort through all of The Joneses that you meet. Which ones are just all for show, with bad money habits where everything they buy is bought with debt? And which ones have achieved a happy and contented life through enjoyable work and some excellent money decisions?

In my experience, there are many fantastic examples – in our own community – of people winning with money. Many of them are itching to share the tips and tricks they have learned along the way. One comment I always hear is that “if only someone had told me how to win with money, I would have done it!”

Well, many of the successful Joneses would happily share their knowledge if only someone were bold enough to ask. So, next time you are organizing a BBQ, make sure you invite some of The Right Joneses along, won’t you!

Ruth blogs at thehappysaver.com all about how she and her family handle money. What’s the secret? Spend less than you earn, invest the difference, avoid debt and budget each dollar that flows through your hands. She firmly believes that if you can just get the basics right, life becomes easier from there on in.

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