Keeping Up with the Joneses Will Keep You Broke

Keeping Up with the Joneses Will Keep You Broke

My dad once gave me a tennis racquet when he upgraded to the latest and greatest technology of the time. Liking the way it played, I acquired three more of them over the years — cheaply because those newer models had superseded them. 

Several years later, I showed up to hit with him and he remarked, “You’re still playing with those old things?” To which I responded, “I’ve learned one of the hardest things about living in this society is knowing when what you have is good enough.” 

It’s also why keeping up with the Joneses will keep you broke. 

First of All, the Joneses Are Broke Too 

Yeah, they’ve got the nice pad, the flashy cars, the fly wardrobe and reservations for the trendiest vacation destinations. But guess what? All of that stuff is likely bought on credit — and you can be assured the bills for those purchases will be arriving any day now.

That’s right, most of the people who seem to have it all together and are in possession of everything you think you want have serious bills. Why would you want to get caught up in a race to the bottomof your bank account with them?

If you let yourself get on that treadmill, you likely won’t win, you won’t break even and you won’t get out of that game — without experiencing considerable pain.

Thousands of people have ended up pursuing debt settlement through an organization like Freedom Debt Relief — or even bankruptcy as a last resort — to get back on track after overusing credit. It’s a cycle that’s very difficult to escape once you’re in it.

The Latest and Greatest Always Costs — Big Time

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Remember when people used to stand in line for 24 hours or more to be the first one to get a new iPhone? In addition to the cost of their time, they paid far more than that same phone would cost today. Early adopters always shell out bigger dough. Sure, they look cool brandishing that ultramodern toy, but they also have less disposable cash with which to do other things. 

Here’s another example: A 2020 Mercedes-Benz SL starts at $91,000. Meanwhile, you can pick up a 2015 version of the same car for $30,000 (as of April of 2020). That’s three times less and they look pretty much just alike. 

My point?

The newest must-have item always has an insanely high price, which comes crashing down to earth when the pool of early adopters goes dry. Meanwhile, the item that came before it usually serves just as well.

There Will Always Be an “-Er”

Whatever you get, there will always be something new-er, fast-er, pretty-er, sleek-er, or just plain better for you to envy. 

An older person who can’t get around anymore gazes out of their window at a person at a bus stop, wishing for their mobility. The person at the bus stop gazes at someone in a VW, wishing they had a car. The person in the VW gazes at someone in a Bentley, wishing they had one of those. The person in the Bentley muses about their friend who has a jet, longing for one of their own. The person with the jet envies the person who owns an airline. And, ironically, the person with the airline wishes for the free time the older person has to just sit and gaze out of a window. 

There will always be an “-er,” regardless of what or how much you achieve or own.

Now, with that said, yes, you absolutely should strive to optimize your living conditions. But be smart about it. Take your time. Do things the right way. Avoid shortcuts. The path of least resistance has proven time and again to be a dead-end street. And, the only person you should be concerned about impressing is yourself. 

Trust me when I tell you, keeping up with the Joneses will keep you broke. 

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