Stop Trying To Keep Up With The Joneses, It’Ll Only Put You Into Debt

2018-04-25   minute read

Lifestyle Debt

Imagine you are pulling into your driveway with your older but reliable car. It's served you well without the slightest hint of trouble. You've never thought of replacing it. Beside you your neighbour Mr. Jones pulls into his driveway with a bright shiny new SUV. He's smiling from ear to ear and clearly having the time of his life.


You look down at your steering wheel. Feeling a noticeable pang of envy in your stomach, you curse that "antiquated piece of garbage" and resolve to visit the car dealership first thing in the morning so you can replace it with something better.

Fear of Missing Out

So, what's going on here? How did you go from loving your car to hating it in the span of just a few seconds?

Part of the issue is the material culture we live in. We're inundated with between 5,000 – 10,000 marketing messages every day by some estimates. Each of them doing their very best to prey on our insecurities – promoting newness and novelty and promising status and popularity will follow from every purchase.

The problem has only become compounded by the rise of social media. Now it's not only the Joneses we're trying to keep up with, it's the Kardashians too. We see celebrities and friends and friends trying to be celebrities constantly eating at pricy restaurants, flaunting the latest clothing trends and performing expensive home renovations. We become entranced by their million-dollar smiles and captivated by how much fun they seem to be having. We too want to be that happy. And so, we try.

Results Not Typical

The only problem? Spend, buy and try as we might, the happiness doesn't come. Or maybe it does for a few fleeting moments at a time. But it doesn't last. The novelty wears off. We become used to our possessions. The vacation is over and all we have left to appreciate is the hole in our wallets and the increasing mountain of debt building up on our bank statements.

Eventually the ecstasy turns to despair and our spending habits become less a pursuit of joy and more a band-aid to cover the pain, stress and pessimism of our increasingly bleak financial situations. In our efforts to keep up, we've fallen further behind than we ever could have imagined.

Breaking the Pattern

Admittedly, it's easy to become trapped in this vicious cycle. Far more difficult is escaping it. Though not impossible. It begins with asking yourself a simple question:

Every time you feel the urge to make a purchase, ask yourself, "Is this what I really want, and (if so) how does it connect to my values?"

You work too hard for your money to let other people's opinions or judgements control how you spend it. If the only "value" an item brings into your life is potentially impressing the people around you, understand that will quickly fade as the people around you buy even newer and more expensive things in an effort to impress you. The cycle just keeps repeat itself.

More important are the intrinsic goals – personal, financial, relational, etc. – you want to achieve. True, lasting happiness is far more attainable when every dollar you spend brings you closer to your own dreams, not necessarily other peoples'. Whether that means retiring early and traveling the world, supporting a cause you believe in, or simply living a quiet, unassuming debt-free life with your family, making your friends or strangers envious is almost certainly not on the list.

Some additional questions that may help you make more responsible purchase decisions include:

  • Is there a less expensive way to get this?
  • Do I need this immediately or can it wait until (tomorrow, next week, next month)?
  • Will a newer or more improved version of soon make this item obsolete?
  • Was I planning to share this purchase on social media? What could I post instead to show a more genuine reflection of my values?

At this point, it may also be helpful to perform a social media audit to determine whether the profiles and pages you're following similarly connect to your values or if they're merely bombarding you with a constant feeling of inadequacy or that you're missing out.

Life-Changing Debt Solution

If you've become overwhelmed by debt due to your experience trying to keep up with the Joneses, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee can help. During a Free Confidential Consultation, they will review your financial situation and all your options to determine which Life Changing Debt Solution might best fit your unique needs. Together you can get on track to the financial fresh start you deserve.

Consultation icon