By Melodie Veldhuizen
Everyone knows the saying: “Keeping up with the Joneses’”. Let’s just call them ‘our neighbours’. They aren’t such bad people and don’t even know how they are influencing your life, but in your opinion on a professional, personal, academic, family or social level and the display of wealth they are better than you and your family. You long to be like them – just as educated or rich, or to move in elite social circles. There are many reasons why you should rather not try to keep up with them.
Some of the negative consequences are:
- You spend more than you planned or can afford because you want things which you previously never considered to be important.
- You will never by happy and content because you think continuously about what they have and you don’t.
- You will always want a newer and better version of what you already own when you see that your neighbours have upgraded, whether it be a new vehicle or a new computer, or additions to their home.
- You feel as if you aren’t caring for your family as well as your neighbour if you don’t offer them exactly the same – education, relaxation, luxury holidays and material stuff.
- You feel that should your children attend better schools, they will stand a greater chance of having a successful future.
- You will never feel that you have enough money in the bank, because you don’t know what your neighbour’s bank balance is.
- You lose track of the really important things.
- The end-result is that you will always be unhappy, because you will never be content with what you have or with your family’s lifestyle. Unfortunately, this chasing after better, prettier, more luxurious or bigger could also lead to the following:
– Depression that is related to the fact that your self-worth, according to you, is linked to external things.
– Financial worries as a result of an ever increasing debt load or because you don’t save enough due to unnecessary expenses.
– Family relations deteriorate because of severe work obligations connected to a job or career where you earn enough to be able to maintain a specific lifestyle.
– Tension related to maintaining a lifestyle that could lead to poor health.
– Fear of possible embarrassment should someone realise that you are living far beyond your financial means.
– Frustration and anger because you never feel you have ‘enough’ can lead to isolation and substance abuse.
– Thoughts of suicide often occur, emanating from the factors above.
How to avoid the dark side of keeping up with the Joneses:
· Identify the problem and reasons why you want to emulate the neighbours so slavishly:
Do you live in a neighbourhood where the neighbours or over-the-top materialistic; mightn’t it be time to relocate? Do you rely too much on material goods and status symbols to boost your self-image? Do you want to provide your children with what you had to go without as a child? Are you trying to fill an inner void with material things? Are material things more important than true happiness or even synonymous with true happiness? Might quality time with your family perhaps not be more important than always wanting to have the best?
· Make sure you have an emergency fund of three to six months that provides for unexpected large expenses, emergencies or job loss which could pull the rug from under you unexpectedly and leave you feeling as if your life is out of control.
· Invest in and focus on what is really important, such as the quality of your relationships, being grateful for what you have, your uniqueness as an individual and the uniqueness of your family. Be thankful for the ability to still be able to learn and develop. Surprisingly, none of these have anything to do with money and are at everyone’s disposal.
“There is nothing better than a simple lifestyle. To try and keep up with the masses will only complicate your life. Stop wasting your money, time and energy to make an impression on people who don’t even know themselves.” Edmond Mbiaka.
Free to pursue. http://www.freetopursue.com/blog/2015/5/26/the-darker-side-of-keeping-up-with-the-joneses
Nassau Guidance and Counselling. https://www.nassauguidance.com/why-keeping-up-with-the-joneses-may-be-detrimental-to-your-emotional-health.html