Financial inequality can strain any relationship. Whether it is your neighbors, your family, or your close friends, making more or less money than those around, you can cause discomfort and jealousy. These feelings often lead to spending patterns that are unhealthy and damage long-term goals. No one should sacrifice financial security to satisfy or match someone else’s lifestyle.
Here are five ways you can avoid the urge to “keep up with the Joneses.”
- Be more open about your finances. You don’t have to tell anyone exactly how much you make. But stating goals and setting boundaries can help build toward healthier relationships. Because real friends and loving family members will be more aware when planning events and activities. They are also more likely to share their vision of financial stability, allowing you to work together, support one another, and provide an opportunity to learn new things.
- Monitor your social media activity. Social media is flooded with things to buy or people showing off recent purchases. There are entire YouTube channels dedicated to “unboxings” and customer reviews. Consuming too much of this content can easily lead to dissatisfaction. But that is what those types of posts and channels are supposed to do – induce you to make purchases you do not necessarily need. Try taking a break from social media or unsubscribe from that type of content.
- Give yourself something to look forward to achieving. Build something fun into your budget, even if it is something small or simple. Maybe plan a hiking or camping adventure. Save up to purchase that new bicycle you’ve been eyeballing. Plan to take your parents out to dinner. Give yourself something fun to look forward to and talk about when you are chatting with others.
- Get involved in meaningful activities. While others may talk about things they have purchased, you can chat about the cool stuff you’ve been into recently. Maybe you are learning how to juggle. Perhaps you have been learning how to make your own vanilla extract. Gardening, meditation, and volunteer work are still other low-cost activities to help fill your time and give you something to chat about.
- Make things instead of buying. There was a gentleman in my old neighborhood who built muscle cars with his kids in his spare time. It took a lot longer for him to have a completed car than merely purchasing a vehicle. But it spread the cost out over a more extended period, avoided a car loan, and gave him a lot of quality time with his children.
Your financial security should be more important than keeping up a perceived appearance. And, while our society often portrays talking about money as a taboo, following these five steps can help you maintain your financial goals and cultivate healthy relationships without the pressure to “keep up with the Joneses.”