There's a lot of talk about “keeping up with the Joneses” on personal finance blogs.
The phrase, “keeping up with the Joneses” simply refers to looking at one's neighbor as the standard and benchmark for success in regards to accumulation of material goods and socioeconomic superiority.
To fail to keep up with the Joneses is a failure to succeed in culture and in life.
Maybe you don't say that out loud, but many of us, if we were honest, think it.
Whether consciously, or subconsciously, we too often think we need to match our neighbors in terms of toys, clothes, houses and cars.
But the affects of this type of thinking can be devastating. Here's a look at four devastating consequences:
1. Lack of Joy and Contentment
Ahhh, the smell of a new car. That's got to be one of the top 5 scents in the world!
A new gadget, vehicle, house or anything else new provides instant gratification and a certain level of happiness. There's no denying that.
But guess what? Those thrills wear off. And we are left with an obsolete piece of technology, or a car with some door dings, or a house that, “doesn't seem big enough”.
As our neighbor drives up with the latest luxury car, we begin to look at our perfectly running vehicle with a sense of dissatisfaction.
Comparing ourselves to the Joneses often leads to a lack of joy and discontentment with what we have.
Rather than viewing our cars, houses, clothes and gadgets as gifts from God, we look at them as the reason why we aren't happy.
We end up getting robbed of joy and contentment. We allow our stuff to determine our happiness, and not our relationship with Christ.
2. Lack of Peace
Another affect is a lack of peace. Here's what I mean:
You see your neighbor drive up in the new Audi, and it's a beautiful car!
You begin thinking, “I wonder what it'd be like to drive around town in that car”, or “I wonder what I need to do at work to get a bigger bonus, commission or raise to afford that car”.
You allow this car to consume your thoughts. Every waking moment you are thinking about this vehicle.
Not only are you not content, but in your soul you are absorbed with getting your hands on this car. There is no peace.
You do not have “stillness” within. You wrestle with how you can get this car, and it's almost controlling.
It's a feeling of “I want, I need, I have to have” this vehicle, and then I can “rest”.
3. Debt, Foreclosures and Not Hitting Your Goals
The obvious conclusion to a life lived for toys and keeping up with the Joneses (especially if you can't afford to keep up with them) is a life of insane debt.
You rack up credit card debt, miss a mortgage payment and put off paying your auto loan because you are buying expensive gadgets and other things to keep up that image.
The natural progression is to skip so many payments that you head to foreclosure, or perhaps owe the IRS back taxes!
Not only can you lose all your toys, but you, more than likely, are not saving into your retirement accounts for that big day either.
How much you need to retire becomes a bigger and bigger amount because you put off saving to buy some designer clothes or other expensive toys.
4. Destruction of Relationships
Lastly, all this hard work and effort to build an earthly kingdom, usually leads to a destruction of relationships. Why? Because a lot of time is spent at the office or on overtime to help pay for this extravagant lifestyle that has been created.
Perhaps you don't get to see your kids grow up. Maybe you don't connect with your spouse enough, and eventually you just drift apart.
Keeping up with the Joneses can not only be financially devastating and irresponsible, but it can lead to a lot of other damaging affects as well.
We end up sacrificing True Wealth for instant gratification.
What are some other affects of keeping up with the Joneses?