Why Keeping Up with the Joneses is Bad for More than Just Your Wallet

When someone is trying to keep up with the Joneses it means that they are trying to keep up with someone who has more than them. Plenty of movies depict neighbors who want to have a bigger house, a better car or a larger television, which is a pretty good example of keeping up with the Joneses. In reality, however, many people who are trying to keep up with the Joneses cannot afford to do so, and they find themselves in financial ruin because of it. These people put their wants ahead of their needs and let their envy take control, which causes them not only financial ruin but many other problems as well.

Financial Ruin

To be honest, you are the only person who really cares what kind of car you drive, how big your house is and how much money you make. If you care about these things in regards to your friends, coworkers and family members it is time to take a step back and reevaluate your life. Being envious of what others is a sign that you are not happy with something in your own life. If you were truly happy you would be excited that the people in your life are working hard and reaping the benefits of their hard work rather than looking for a reason to one up them. You are more than what you have, and spending money you don’t have on things you don’t need will only cause you to suffer financial setbacks. If you want to refurnish your entire house, do it; but only if you can pay cash for it.

Health Problems

Those who are constantly trying to compete with others are ruining their health. Not only are they making themselves miserable trying to make sure that they always have the latest and the greatest, they are making themselves sick. When you spend too much money that you don’t have trying to buy things you don’t need you are causing yourself stress. Too much stress can lead to headaches, ulcers and a myriad of other health problems.

Work Problems

Even your work suffers when you spend too much time trying to keep up with others. When you spend a great amount of energy envying others, your performance is subpar. Your envy makes you feel less confident, which affects how you work. When your confidence level drops you begin to feel that you are not good enough and your work will reflect those feelings.

Social Problems

Your friends, coworkers and family members like you for who you are, not what you have. With this in mind, focusing too much on filling your life with material things can rub people the wrong way. When you feel the need to compete with someone, the first thing that happens is you start to diminish their new purchase/job/whatever, making excuses why it isn’t good enough or how you would never want to do that instead of just being happy for them. Additionally, you start talking too much about what you have and putting too much emphasis on things that don’t matter to anyone else. Trust me, no one thinks it’s attractive when you say, “I’m heading to the store in my brand new Mercedes-Benz with leather seats and a sunroof and satellite radio” when you could have just said you’re headed to the store. Finally, you start making comments that don’t necessarily speak to what you have and people start to become turned off by your attitude. If you are complaining one day about barely being able to afford your electric bill and the next week you are talking about how you just furnished your living room, dining room and master bedroom with brand new furniture and electronics, people will realize that you have a problem; and they won’t want to be around you.

Material possessions are nice, but if they were all to disappear tomorrow you should still wake up happy with everything else that you have. If you can’t focus on the happiness you have in your own life and be happy for those who are experiencing success, you need to work on it. See a therapist to find out why you feel such an overwhelming need to compete with others or make a concerted effort to be happy with what you have and what you can afford rather than what others do or do not have. At the end of the day, the only person that has to be happy in your life is you; not your friends, coworkers or neighbors.


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