Are you trying to keep up with the Joneses? My question is, who are these so called Joneses, and why do they always live next door to me? So of course I had to look the Joneses up in Wikipedia:
“Keeping up with the Joneses” is an idiom in many parts of the English-speaking world referring to the comparison to one’s neighbor as a benchmark for social class or the accumulation of material goods. To fail to “keep up with the Joneses” is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority.”
The funny thing about the Joneses is they are in just as much financial trouble as you. In fact, many people are all over the world are living the great financial lie. According to the 2015 Nerdwallet study, the average household with an income of $75,591 pays $6,658 of credit card debt interest per year. Living beyond your means to impress your friends, family, and neighbors is one of the most common and unhealthy financial habits that can cause financial ruin and despair. If you find yourself wanting to feel important by showing off how much you can, or in most cases how much you can’t, afford that you are willing to live in the shadows of denial and helplessness to repay your monthly commitment, then you are keeping up with the Joneses. If you have your blinders on and are too busy competing with others instead of building a solid financial future, then your last name might be Jones.
We, as consumers of debt, have simply deluded ourselves by the fact that we can pay next Tuesday for that nice new shiny toy today. And the funny thing is, we think we can afford it. Ask yourself, if you lost your job today could you last three to six months on your savings (be honest with yourself when you ask that question, your only fooling yourself)? I would venture a guess that if you are living in debt, you have zero savings and could not last even one month; or you might have to tap into your 401K to live, which is very expensive money to borrow.
It takes more than budgets, spreadsheets, and spending within your means to get out of debt, it takes a whole new way of thinking. As I said in my previous blog entry, debt equals pain. It takes a paradigm shift to change the fundamental way you think about life and money.
First off, you need to stop worrying about what the Joneses are doing or thinking, and focus on yourself. I guarantee the Joneses are in as much financial pain as you and will come to you for help when they see the changes you are making.
Second, you need to stop spending RIGHT NOW!!! Get educated on how to make and use budgets, Take inventory on where you stand financially by listing all your income, debts and expenses and get a good picture of where you stand. Many people never take stock of where they stand financially because if you don’t know, then it must not exist. Many of you will find it a very uncomfortable exercise to inventory the mess you made, because then you would have to admit to yourself that you made the mess. I promise you that it is a very liberating exercise to get all the numbers on paper, and start your journey towards financial recovery.
And third, which is what this blog is about, less is more. Stop living beyond your means to impress others. In my past, I lived way beyond my means and found myself hyperventilating at night when I laid in bed thinking about how bad my financial picture was. I had the big house, new cars, new boats, new motorcycles, new personal water craft, and any other toy that came along. If I had lost my job the glass house would have crumbled and I would have lost everything, because everything had loans on them. And God forbid if an emergency had come along, I had zero savings.
Here is what I figured out the hard way, less is more. See, I had all the toys and they were all encumbered with debt. Every month I would shuffle bills to be able to pay for them. And although it looked great to everyone on the outside, I was dying on the inside. I never got to play with those toys, because I was too busy making sure I did not lose my job so I could pay for them. I also found I could not even afford to maintain them, so I started missing the necessary services to keep the bank’s toys in tip-top shape. If you are like me, you found out the hard way that deferred maintenance costs more in the long run; and since I never had money, no maintenance was ever done unless I, yes you guessed, it put it on my credit card. LOL this is what we call an infinite loop in my industry.
One day I woke up and could not take it anymore. I was in so much pain I had to make a change. I stopped caring about what everyone thought about me and what I had, and I started selling everything one at a time. Lucky for me, I woke up and started changing my financial future before I lost my job, or something happened and I lost it all. As I sold items and decreased my debt responsibility, I started being able to breathe more and more, little by little. As an added bonus, as my life became unclutter, my home also became uncluttered. As my finances corrected themselves at a faster pace with each debt I wiped out, my spirit came back, and I became addicted to getting rid of things. On the other extreme, I have become CDO (OCD in alpha order since I’m over the top OCD) about my living space and how clean it is. Now every time I’m about to buy something I ask myself, do I really need that item, will I use it, and will I have to throw it out in six months because I don’t use it. And you know I tend to not buy things I don’t need and when I do buy I only buy in cash.
It has been very liberating to free myself from the clutches of what the Joneses thought of me, and live life on my own terms. Now that I’m unencumbered with all those shiny toys, I find myself laughing more and relaxing more than I have in years.
So right now stop worrying about what others think about you, and only worry about yourself. Make the choice to stop spending, and change the way you feel and think about money. It really is as simple as just changing your mental pattern.
A life less encumbered, becomes a life of more. You will experience more satisfaction, balance, security, and feel and think more deeply. LESS REALLY IS MORE.
I look forward to working with each and everyone one of you in the near future, and remember, each new day is another chance to change your life – you just have to find the right path.
P.S. Please don’t forget to browse to http://whyliveindebt.com/first100 and sign up for our newsletter, and the first 100 people to sign up for the newsletter will get $15 off our exciting new on-line video-on-demand course, Bread Crumbs to Financial Freedom: 12 Easy Steps to get out of debt and build wealth.
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