Why Keeping up With the Joneses Is a Race You’ll Never Finish

front view of large, nice house

Keeping up with the Joneses? We should warn you, they’re broke!

Why you should stop comparison living and start minimalist living.

In America today, we’re always striving for something.

Whether it’s a better job, a better house, or a better car, we’re all chasing something — or someone.

You’ve probably heard about the Joneses.

They’re your neighbors across the street. You know, the ones who drive the luxury SUV, have the picture-perfect home, and live the seemingly flawless life. Ring a bell?  

Society has an interesting affect on us. It calls us to follow the latest trends, to binge-watch the same shows on Netflix, and to buy the same products. “Keeping up with the Joneses” is a pursuit of conformity, and it’s nothing new. 

Decades ago, “Keeping up with the Joneses” meant your parents might look out the window and notice the Joneses park their new car in the driveway, then feel an impulse to go buy a new car themselves.

Today, the Joneses aren’t in the just driveway across the street. They’re in your house. In fact, they’re in your pocket. The Joneses live on Facebook and Instagram. That’s right, they’re within eyeshot anytime of day.

Through social media, we’re told not only that the Joneses are far better than us, but that we should do something about it. We didn’t know we weren’t good enough until someone told us — and that’s a problem.

3 truths about the Joneses

1. The Joneses are broke

You look at the Joneses and can’t help but wonder.

They drive new cars and go on the most Instagram-worthy vacations. They have a kitchen full of new appliances and a big screen TV in every room.

How could they possibly afford that … ? … On his salary … ? They must have an inheritance. … Or rich parents … Or

The Joneses are broke. That’s right, they’re loaded with debt and one emergency away from a financial disaster.

Eighty percent of Americans have a debt problem. In fact, it’s more likely the Joneses have a debt problem than have a pet. So much for the picture-perfect life.  

2. The Joneses aren’t happy 

The Joneses look awfully happy. How could they not be?

Did you see the pictures they shared on Facebook from their trip to Disney?

They are happy. I know it.

The truth is, we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. The Joneses could be crazy happy, broke and a fight away from a divorce, or somewhere in the middle.

We don’t see the full picture, especially when our only knowledge of the Joneses comes from our news feed. Social media is a highlight reel showing off everyone’s best self, and the Joneses use it to put up a facade that everything’s OK. The Joneses don’t want you to know they’re scraping together money every month to cover the payment for their expensive SUV. 

Debt isn’t Instagram-worthy. Even though debt is a reality for a majority of households, nobody is bragging about it. Moral of the story: There’s more to life than we share on social media.

3. The Joneses don’t love their lives

The Joneses are struggling to love their own lives. Owning better and buying more, they think, will satisfy their insecurities. Influenced by social media, the Joneses spend most of their time wishing they were living someone else’s life. 

It’s true. The Joneses obsess over comparisons. Comparisons are a coping mechanism for our own insecurities. Sadly, the Joneses spend more of their money and attention focused on bridging a gap that exists only in their mind, and less enjoying what they have.

Oh, and don’t ask the Joneses about sleep. They’re exhausted from always looking to satisfy a need for something newer and better.

The Joneses love your life. Do you?

Comparing your life to someone else’s is the quickest way to feel discontent.

Comparison lifestyles are normal in everyday life, and you don’t have to look far to see them. That element of life isn’t always a bad thing, but an obsession over such is.

Your friend recently remodeled their kitchen and shared pictures on social media. You not only draw an instant comparison between yours and theirs, you no longer appreciate yours as much.

Comparisons steal our joy. If we don’t get comparison living under control, we’ll be spending money just to catch up.

Imagine you go out and buy a 50-inch TV. Weeks later, your best friend buys a 55-inch TV. You decide yours is no longer good enough, so you go out and buy a 60-inch TV. This is compulsive buying for comparison’s sake. It’s not healthy for you or your bank account.

The truth of the matter is comparisons don’t change our situation, nor do they change the other person’s situation. Simply put, chasing comparisons are a waste of energy. 

Quit competing with a lifestyle that isn’t real 

Comparisons are everywhere. Our peers may rapidly progress with better stuff, better promotions, and better pay.

All around us, incomes and lifestyles change — and with it, a change in our attitude in our relationships does, too. Comparisons go hand-in-hand with competitiveness. On its own, competitiveness isn’t a bad thing. But it is when it’s the driving factor behind our competitive spirit.

You see, competition can be internal. It can be a drive to be better on your own. There’s nothing that says you have to be better than someone else. 

“Keeping up with the Joneses” is a race you’ll never win. In fact, the comparison game has no winner. The Joneses don’t put pressure on you to keep up, so don’t put that pressure on yourself.

Feel like that pressure is inescapable? You may want to consider taking a social media break.

The Joneses are a lot less effective outside of social media. Taking a social media break can help you break unhealthy habits and reconnect with your priorities.

Before you buy, express your gratitude through minimalist living. 

“Keeping up with the Joneses” is about comparisons. It’s about wanting someone else’s life over your own. Engaging in this attitude means devaluing what we have because we’re convinced that someone else has something better.

While the comparison game doesn’t always take shape in material possessions, a majority of the time, it does. A healthy approach to freeing yourself from a comparison lifestyle is to take a minimalist approach.

Minimalism isn’t what you think it is.

For starters, it doesn’t mean divulging yourself of all your possessions. Minimalism isn’t owning less stuff or getting rid of everything you own.

Minimalism is intentionally promoting things you most value in life by removing the things that distract you from what you love. It’s getting to value whatever your greatest passions and greatest values are, without wasting time and money owning and chasing things that don’t matter.

Excess possessions are not making us happy. In fact, they’re taking us away from our happiness. Minimalism is not a sacrifice, but a remedy to see more value in what you enjoy. Looking for happiness in your possessions? You won’t find it.

Nobody, not even the Joneses, says they want to own as many things as possible.

So, what do the Joneses really want? To love their own lives.

Understanding minimalism is to have gratitude for what you have. Spending more time focused on gratitude and less on comparisons means more time to build lasting memories. More time and freedom to enjoy things in life that matter.

The Joneses want to free up time, energy, and resources. They’re searching in the wrong place. You don’t have to join them.

Keep up with yourself, and not the Joneses.

Net Pay Advance is a licensed loan provider, locally owned and operated in Wichita, Kansas. Our No. 1 priority is helping you, the customer, by providing access to the cash you need and helping support financial independence goals with valuable, informational, and entertaining content. Stay up-to-date on our posts by following the Net Pay Advance Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages. Our organization is committed to transparency; learn more about our authors and editorial policy. The information provided within this blog is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial or legal advice. Please contact us if you have any questions.

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