Keeping Up With The Joneses

Keeping Up With The JonesesDo you ever feel like you are trying to keep up with the Joneses? It seems like everywhere I turn, a big purchase is happening to someone I know. A massive 3 story house, nice cars, fancy vacations, a new iPad every other month and everything else.

When a friend goes out and buys the next greatest phone or buys a new car every couple of months, it kind of makes you wonder, and maybe it makes you jealous?

I’m not going to lie, the jealous monster takes over my life every now and then. This is something that I am working on and something that I need to change in my life. Am I the only one? Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person who is jealous and no one else has these crazy feelings. Since my extra income seems to be continually increasing, sometimes I feel the urge to spend it.

Maybe the jealous monster has taken over your life as well and you are trying to keep up with the Joneses.

We know someone who isn’t showy with his money, he is careful with how he spends his money. He doesn’t buy all the latest gadgets that don’t mean anything to him. Instead he spends money on his family, vacations, making his house into a home, family gatherings at his home, and other things that truly mean something to him.

He is the perfect example that just because you “might” have money to spend, it does not mean that you should. Buying all of the newest things all of the time doesn’t always mean everything in life.

Before you buy the next thing that you might not need, definitely think first.

Do you absolutely, positively NEED to buy it right now? Do you need that seventh flat screen TV when there’s only two people living in your house? Will moving into that bigger house really bring you that much more happiness? What will you do when the next person you know buys something better slightly better than you? Are you house poor but still feel the need to keep up (read further on this post on Forbes).

This is where you need to really think about what makes you happy. Constantly being in a race with your friends and people you know about who has the best things is not the best way to live life. Things will just continue to eat at you and I don’t think you can truly ever be happy if you’re just always try to one-up everyone.

Determine why you truly want that next gadget or why you want that new car.

Can you even afford to have it? If you can’t afford it without accruing tons of debt that you cannot ever pay back, then please do not do it. Buying a $50,000 car when you only make $15,000 a year is not realistic.

This is a Keeping Up With the Joneses and also crazy things people say and do post, so be ready :)


Do you want to buy a new house whenever someone gets a new house?

Maybe you start thinking that your current house is too small and that a house that is an extra $50,000 won’t hurt your budget too much. WRONG. What was wrong with your house last week? Nothing most likely.

A family friend recently bought a nice house and moved into it. Our houses are similar, but all of a sudden I felt like my house was “old” and that I should get something new ASAP. This is my problem! I normally wouldn’t be thinking like this because I know that we want to save and buy a new house next year most likely, NOT THIS YEAR.


Are you upside down on your car because you buy a new and better car whenever you get the chance?

I know someone who is very upside down and that is because they bought 3 new cars in one year. WHY? I don’t know! I know for a fact that he could not afford a single one. His mom co-signed on every car and he owes around $40,000 on a $20,000 car right now.

I know a lot of guys like this (sorry, I’m trying not to stereotype) and even W is like this. Him and his friends always want a new car and W himself has personally gone through probably 9 or 10 cars (and almost ALL of these were nice cars: Porsche, Mercedes, classic truck, brand new Jeep, among other cars).

One of W’s friends was saying it was time for him to get a new car because he likes the factory tires that are put directly on the car when the car is brand new. UM WHAT? If someone would like to explain this in the comments below, I would greatly appreciate it.


Is your credit card balance so high that it would take 1,000 years to pay off?

Do you feel like you’re always charging your credit card so that you can always buy the latest and greatest thing? Credit card debt can add up quickly, and before you know it you can amass thousands and thousands of debt.

One of W’s friends bought the new iPad and apparently it still came with the old charging cord. And now the new iPad comes with the new cord. You can kind of guess what he did. Just weeks after he bought the new iPad (he has had every version now), he bought the newest iPad only because it had the new cord and he wanted the latest and greatest electronic out there. Weird right? Someone can explain that for me to.

Have you ever felt the need to Keep Up With The Joneses?

What do you do to ignore/cope with it?



  1. wmwo says

    I feel the pressure to keep up with the Joneses daily. Fortunately, taking a step back and realizing how ridiculous it really is sometimes helps deal with the pressure. It doesn't solve it, but it helps. I'm actually in the process of scaling back right now. I know that not everyone I know understands why I'd want to do that (I don't really discuss it around some friends), but it's really been liberating.
    My recent post Pinching Pennies

  2. Faith says

    Such a great post!

    It is strange I have no issue trying to keep up with the Joneses. I feel I can only have what I can afford. We bought a much smaller, older home than our friends because we still wanted to be able to travel, eat out, enjoy ourselves.

    There are too many people living above their means and I really don’t want to have to ever deal with that.

    I don’t need the biggest and newest gadgets. I just don’t. But when I do, it is always budgeted in :).

    I really love this post!

  3. says

    I definitely have felt a need to keep up with the Joneses; I think it's only natural. It's not easy, but I've tried to mentally only focus on my own finances and situation, and plan for my own future based on the realities of my finances. Once one person gets a house, though, everyone wants to buy a house. I think it's pretty natural for friends to think that way.
    My recent post Why You Should Buy A Diamond Engagement Ring

    • says

      I agree definitely. It's funny because now all of my friends have houses and we are all in our early twenties (21-24) and when we talk to other people we realize that we are not the norm at all.

  4. plantingourpennies says

    I don't think we feel pressure to keep up with the Joneses in the same way, which is good. The only thing that's annoying is that Mr. PoP's coworkers all spend their bonuses as soon as they make them (if not before!). So when they have gucci purses are new rolexes and they ask Mr. PoP what he did with his bonus, they think I'm mean that I'm not "letting" him spend it on something frivolous like that. But it doesn't bother me.
    My recent post $520 To Restore A Piece of History

  5. says

    My wife and I often feel that our friends are doing much better than us, it's fairly natural I think. Generally I'm really proud of my friends and their accomplishments and don't really get jealous. It's a pointless exercise and that energy can be applied elsewhere. We're also in the process of scaling back on frivolous spending.

    You can't compare your situation with others. You have no idea how the Joneses are living or how much debt they're building up with the numerous holidays, new cars and gadgets.

  6. Tanner says

    I am not sure I'd say I'd ever felt like catching up to the Joneses, just because my parents were the Joneses back home, and they were always trying to keep up with other imaginary family. It was a disaster, looking back (and knowing how the tale ends). However, I do find myself wanting things, not because others want or have it (though they do), but because I want them. Case in point, I've really been thinking about a Kindle to get e-books to read, and though I know everyone has the movie-watching type tablets, I just want a basic e-reader. People seem to think you're crazy for wanting outdated technology that meets your need, though. My friends *strongly* recommend against just buying a black/white e-reader. Guess it's more of a society thing than just the personal level.
    My recent post Philosophical break

  7. says

    Generally speaking, I don't feel that need. The only time I feel that need is with electronics, because I love electronics, and with our little house. I would love to own a house that was big enough for us to entertain in, that didn't have things constantly going wrong with it. But then I remind myself it's not in the cards right now, and when we ARE ready, we'll be able to buy one stress free. Oh, and I also am totally jealous of my boss for having an electric car.
    My recent post Beware The Coupon

  8. says

    Nope! If jealosy strikes -which is rare! – it makes me strive to work harder, not go buy stuff I can’t afford. And like you said, most people showing it off really can’t afford it anyway!

  9. Brian says

    I get jelious when my friends go on a vacations and it is only because I want to always go on vacation. But then I just have to remind myself of the vacation I have planned for later and then look forward to that.

    As far as houses go, I kind of want to downsize. Our current house is right around 2000 sq-ft and we use maybe half of that. My wife thinks I'm crazy and maybe I am, but it is not because I just want something newer.

  10. sara says

    I definitely feel like I have to keep up with the Joneses!!! Fortunately, I'm growing up and realizing that I have more than I actually need, so I've been good with only buying clothes I need for work and I saved up for three years to buy a new laptop.

    However, maybe it's because of my age (24) and seeing all of my friends starting to work in their first 'grown-up' jobs, all of us are making okay to great money. Some recent examples of me getting jealous/envious:

    – I have one friend who used her unused student loan money to take a trip with her boyfriend to Cuba…. I was bummed out and jealous they could have a vacation for just the two of them when my boyfriend and I haven't been anywhere together. Then I realized that my boyfriend and I have paid off $10,000 of student loans in 14 months.

    – My other, close friend always talks about how she has student loans, but that her mom pays her monthly bill and also has $7,000 set aside for a wedding (one day) and another $12,000 for her to put towards a house down payment. It would be great to have this given to you. But, then I was talking to our financial advisor and he mentioned that people like that are probably just saying they have money coming to them (or grossly exaggerate the amount) to make themselves feel better and not realize how much they're in debt.

    – My boyfriend's friend does really well for himself; he has a Corvette, a great paying job (over $90,000/year for a 25 year old), absolutely no debt, weekend trips to Chicago to watch football, Vegas trips with friends, etc. But then I remember that he lives at home with his parents, has no girlfriend and no one to share his fun closely with. Sometimes, company outweighs the money, trips and toys.

    – My 'friend' from university also has a decent job in the big city (with a fancy title to go with it). She is always on Twitter talking about her latest endeavor, trip, meeting celebrities, etc. She too lives at home and complains about how she is 'so alone'. (Maybe I should set those two up… lol). She also has a new BMW, no debt and her parents still pay for things like haircuts. She spends all her money on going out to A-list parties and on clothes… but again, I remember that she's not paying her own way and her parents have a 26 year old child still living at home.

    I know I complain to myself a lot about not having nearly as much as my friends. But, at the end of the day, I have some money in my savings account and a retirement fun started at 24 (not bad!) My parents don't have to help me out financially and I realize that family is more important than driving a Range Rover (something that some of my friends may never realize).

    • SavvyFinancialLatina says

      Sara, I live near Frisco, TX where it seems every kid(adults) our age is still living with their parents and have no plan to get out. Parents still pay for everything. And they are still broke!
      We also feel like that sometimes. I know sometimes wish I could go on that fabulous vacation or had parents that could have afforded a lavish wedding. But it's not in my cards. I'm working my behind instead. And I'm independent. And supporting on no one. Well, except for my hubby. But we are a partnership. I didn't have him to share my experiences, I would be extremely miserable.

    • says

      I loooove your comment! I have many friends similar to yours. A lot of my friends get all kinds of help from their families. Every now and then I get jealous because I don't get that, but earning stuff on your own is definitely a much better feeling.

  11. John S @ Frugal Rules says

    It can be difficult at times to not give into that temptation, but where I've come to is that we need to live for ourselves and not others. Sure, it would be nice to have the latest and greatest thing, but I'd rather live within reason now so we can do what we really want in the future.

  12. says

    I think for my wife and me, we have so little money, that we can't even really consider the Joneses thing. When people buy new stuff, we just shrug. Good for them. Doens't make a differentce to us. I think maybe if we made more money, we might fall into that trap, but for right now, we dont' have the money to play that game and we refuse to have credit card debt!
    My recent post Blue Collar Roundup — Being Sick Edition

  13. mycanuckbuck says

    I love this expression – because I actually know some Joneses. And – Mrs. Jones doesn't like to spend money on anything- she's always worried about being broken (even though they're quite solvent). So it's no trouble "keeping up" with them. :)
    My recent post 4 Life Investments That You Can Be Saving On

  14. Amy says

    I generally wish I could keep up with the Joneses but then I realize how stupid that is. My stuff may be older but it was good quality when it was brand new, so why get a new one if its not broken?

    The new car syndrome seems to happen frequently, a friend was still paying off their original car and went and bought a brand new one off the lot because their little sister had just gotten a brand new car. They say this wasn't the case, but there was no discussion of a new vehicle until the sister showed off her new beauty. I personally don't get it :/

  15. Amanda says

    I ALWAYS feel the pressure to keep up!! And I get jealousy monster comes around sometimes too! I think it's just part of being human :) I just try to remember and be thankful for what I do have because things could be much much worse :)
    My recent post {December} Goal Recap and Reset

  16. worksavelive says

    I don't really feel the need to keep up with the Joneses, but I've found it hard to sacrifice for so long while I watch other people buy cars, houses, and go on vacation. My wife and I were talking the other night how hard it is to truly live on less than you make (when you don't have a large income) and how much easier it would be to go into debt. Honestly, the way we deal with it is through setting goals, staying true to one another, and by having faith. If it weren't for our relationship with Jesus I'm not sure how we'd handle things or how our outlook on life/money would change the decisions we make today. It wouldn't be pretty though.
    My recent post What to Do About Medical Debt

  17. SavvyFinancialLatina says

    I won a new mini IPAD at my company's raffle this year. While it's pretty cool and I wanted one because they were so sleek and nice, I don't really use it. I have a Macbook Air, and I prefer that to the Mini IPAD on a regular basis. My hubby loves it though!
    We feel the pressure to keep up with the Joneses. But I remind myself that it's not what I want. We are saving up to buy a small modest home. After that we will investing our money, and saving some money for a business. And also helping our families. If we go on vacations, we will go frugally because I'm frugal like that. I hate not getting a good deal.

  18. says

    I kept up with the Joneses for years. Heck, I probably was a Jones, and all it got me was $30K in credit card debt. If that's what it takes to be a Jones, I'll stick with my given name. It still does trigger something in the back of my mind when I see someone get something new. We used to trade cars every three or four years, and, sadly, my sister does as well. She has already had two cars since I got the one I have now, including a brand new one that I rode around in all last week. It was fancy, and it made me want one for a second, but there is no car worth a payment to me right now. I think I've gotten rid of the Joneses forever.
    My recent post Options for Diversifying Your Investments

  19. Rachel says

    I always feel like this! Especially over Christmas time, I saw so many people showing off the gifts they got- they were all 5 times the monetary amount of what I got. I just tell myself that it’s better to be like me and work hard for your items rather than get them from a parent or something. For example, I’m saving up to buy my own DSLR, while other bloggers got them from their mommies (when they are independent and on their own). More power to us!
    My recent post How to Prevent and Soothe Chapped Lips

    • says

      I agree! So many of my friends get presents from parents. Every now and then of course I naturally get jealous since I haven't received a present from a parent since my dad was alive, but then I think about how stupid I sound when I say that aloud. Working for what you want means a lot to me!

  20. says

    The Jones may look happy and perfect and rich but nothing is shiny and perfect on the outside as it is in reality. My husbands friends just bought this gorgeous house in the hills with a view and subway tile in the kitchen. I admit it. I felt a little jealous. But, I'm not jealous of their mortgage and our house is perfectly fine. I had to let the feeling pass. We need to live at or preferably below our means and even if those means get better it's stupid to overdo it.
    My recent post A Merry New Year Party

  21. therandompath says

    When I was younger, I did feel a need to keep up with the joneses. Now, not so much. Sure, there are times where I wish I had an iphone or something, but I'm trying to pay off debt. That is what is always in the back of my mind: get out of debt!!!
    My recent post One Year Blogiversary! OMG!

  22. says

    I live in a very wealthy neighbourhood in Oslo, the capital of Norway, so yes I`ve definetely felt the keeping up with the Joneses. (and just for clarity, I rent an apartment, I could never afford to buy neither an apartment nor a house in these surroundings). But actually, after having lived in this neighbourhood for 6 months, I`ve actually noticed how my keeping up with the Joneses has declined. I see a lot of obnoxious people with their flashy cars and their children`s louis vuitton handbags for school. But I also see a lot of houses that are in decline, and surprisingly a lot of dogs dissappearing. It seems to be that many of the people in this area are all about having things, and preferably the newest and flashy things. A flatcoated retriever is just a status thing. so what if it dissappears. they can afford to buy a new one. And when you hear how the children talk. OMG! talk about spoiled brats! It all kinda disgusts me, and makes me think more about what kind of life I want.

  23. Lynne says

    The Joneses look happy until the bill shows up then they have to scramble to pay it off or add it to their mountain of existing debt! It's human nature to want what the Joneses have — reminds me of the Mirror of Aricept in Harry Potter but then of course you cannot go looking for it again… Sigh!

  24. eemusings says

    I definitely get house envy. I don't want a big house, I just want a house that's insulated and not a shi*thole, which is basically impossible to find at an affordable amount in this city.

    T always says it's almost easier to get decent accommodation here if you're on the benefit as opposed to a working professional (though I'm not so sure that's true these days as the govt. sells off state housing). He also has the same with cars. He's been through a couple of low end racy type cars and now we have a sensible one. Most of the people he knows have fast cars they do up but a lot of them take out loans and then write off their cars leaving huge debts. Oh, and they rack up thousands in traffic fines they never pay. If that's how you want to live – never paying your obligations, never being able to leave the country – I guess that's up to you. But I won't stand for taking out huge loans to buy a fast car.

  25. says

    I think at times everyone gets jealouse. It's natural. For me I try to be happy for that person instead of jealous of them. I am not at a point in my life where I can blow a lot of money and even if I could I probably still wouldn't. I am happy having money in the bank.
    My recent post The Power of Organization

  26. Pauline @ Reach Financial Independence says

    The Joneses are jealous of me because I seem to be traveling all the time and not working much. And then they ask how I do it, and I say I don't own all the crap you do… easy! They say they couldn't live without it. I know my priorities so it is not a sacrifice not to have a $100K car.
    My recent post It happens to the best!

  27. myjampackedlife says

    I love beside the joneses it seems. They are always buying this or that. Just bought a brand nw top of the line Yukon, die died after 5 years she just didn't like her stainless steel side by side fridge and ordered a new on the oth day. It only cost 2000 dollars she said, no big deal. We struggle since I've lost my job and its so hard to watch the careless spending of money. But I know they don't have money in the bank and someday I will. I always try to remember that just bacause you have more things, doesn't mean you have more money. We're only human to feel jealous.
    My recent post January is National Hot Tea Month #blogboost

  28. Budget & the Beach says

    I think the one thing that affects me most is watching my friends travel a lot. I tend to hide the ones that do on FB so I don't really have to have it in my face. I've been wanting a flat screen TV for so long…and I don't think this is a keeping up with the J's kind of thing. I watch a lot of movies and TV at home, and my current TV is the old boxy kind that I bought used around 12 years ago for $100. Considering it's something I'm still giving so much thought to, when I eventually buy one it's because it was just for me, and not to keep up appearances. I do think it's hard not to compare from time to time. I think we all fall under that spell.
    My recent post I’m on a Money Diet

  29. Lindsey says

    I used to have a really hard time with jealousy and envy. I went to a university where a large portion of the students were extremely well off and didn't have any financial worries or the responsibilities that come with not being rich. I was the only one in my group of friends that worked a full time job the entire time I was in school. When I graduated for a few years I felt because I had a job and worked so hard I should be able to afford nice things – even when I couldn't. I had a huge fundamental shift in my thinking in my late twenties and realized that trying to live a lifestyle I couldn't afford (and when I was really honest with myself, didn't want) was making me miserable and causing havoc with my financial future. Since than, I totally changed my lifestyle and began to develop the life I wanted, not the one I once envied. I have realized that owning material objects and "competing" with other people's material objects is absolutely not for me.
    My recent post Still spending

  30. Anne_UGifter says

    This happens to me occasionally. However, I rest assured in knowing that I usually have the option to buy expensive stuff I don't need, if I want it. The sweet part is that I have choice and know that our finances look pretty darn good compared to a lot of our friends. Other things are good as well – we live in a condo, not a house, which saves us a bunch of money. Given that we are there, we will probably stay there longer, while some of our friends will buy larger houses. The longer we can stay in the less expensive option, the easier it is to pay off and the less we have to worry about mortgages and housing inflation.


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