Long before there was “Keeping up with the Kardashians” there was “Keeping up with the Joneses”. When did trying to impress others become so ingrained in us that it replaced the American dream? Let’s look back at its origin. The phrase comes from the 1913 comic strip “Keeping up with the Joneses”, created by Arthur Momand for The New York World paper. The strip depicts the social climbing McGinis family, who struggle to “keep up” with their neighbors, the Joneses. Now, thanks to social media, the Joneses are no longer just our neighbors, but a digital world where we flaunt our “conspicuous consumption”.
I’m sure by now you are thinking, “That’s so not me. I don’t subscribe to the mindset of buying luxury goods and services to show off my economic power and social status.”
Here are some common traits of people driven by “conspicuous consumption”:
1. They buy a new vehicle every 2-3 years
2. They buy a bigger home every 3-5 years
3. They buy the latest gadgets
4. They buy into timeshares/vacation homes
5. The price of their car cost more than their cash on hand
This type of thinking is a slippery slope that will take you deeper and deeper into the proverbial rabbit hole of financial ruin. Eventually you hit a point where you feel trapped, smothered in debt with no way out. This is what happened to the Scarpellis, a prominent Manhattan chiropractor and his wife who jumped to their deaths from a Midtown NYC building carrying suicide notes that blamed their troubles on financial woes. Unfortunately, this tragedy is becoming more and more common.
YOU have the power to change and not fall victim to “conspicuous consumption”. First, you need to reset your priorities. Instead of the mindset of ‘look at me’, focus more on being of service to others. Second, establish a set of Golden Rules to live by.
Here are our Golden Rules:
1. Never spend more than $50 on anything unless we discussed it and both agree
2. Only buy items that are a necessity
3. Luxury items: wait for 3 months to see if we still want it. Then if we still want it, save up for it and pay cash
There’s a saying that goes, “Rich people stay rich by living like they are broke. Broke people stay broke by living like they are rich.” So, I have to ask, “What’s in your wallet?” If you have more credit than cash, consider this a wake-up call. The Joneses are BROKE!!!