Un-Joneses of the World, Speak Up!

motor boat

Not only do I not give a hoot about keeping up with the Joneses, I would like to start a movement of the Un-Joneses. I want to influence people to look at my life and decide that they want to spend less not more. Wanna join me? I hope so.

How can we do this? We can speak truthfully about our financial mistakes with those around us. Whatever financial lessons you have learned the hard way, take the time and make the effort tell someone. Let’s make an active effort to save each other money. Here are some of those financial lessons that I want to share with others:

More House Than We Need: If my husband and I had it to do over again, we would buy a smaller house with a natural yard in a neighborhood with sidewalks. Why? We hate to clean and do yard work, but we love to walk. This was our first house, so even after all of our research, we still had no idea what we were doing. We bought this much house (2,200 square feet) because we loved the location and we wanted to have room for visiting relatives. We have since realized that we have a lot of house to clean while we have relatively few overnight visitors.

Having Children – Think IF not WHEN: My husband and I decided not to be parents. I guess that’s why some parents feel safe telling us that if they had it to do over again, they would not have children. This is a truth worth telling! Please, if you feel this way, share it. Not in front of your children, of course, and not with anyone who would betray your confidence. But, I think many people need to have permission to let go of the idea of being a parent. We didn’t make this decision for financial reasons, but it is certainly a financial hardship for many people who have children without ever giving it much thought.

The Big Expensive All Out Vacation To The All Inclusive Resort: If it sucked, tell the truth. Be a good Mr. or Ms. Un-Jones and save your friends the trouble of emulating your behavior. Don’t brag about how wonderful it was just because it cost $5,000. If you spent the entire week on the toilet of your prison cell sized hotel room processing the twenty four hour buffet, please don’t lie and say it was the best vacation of your life.

The Overpriced Wedding: If you now realize that you would have been just as married – and just as happy – with a low key ceremony at a friend’s lake house, tell someone. That young friend of yours who is suffering from eyestrain from choosing the font for her expensive wedding invitations, tell her the truth.

The Lonely Motor Boat: How many of you own a lonely motor boat? Of the three people I know who have bought boats in the last five years, only one of them used it more than 10 times in the first year he owned it. Five years later, one of them is selling his boat and the other two aren’t selling theirs yet, but they aren’t using them either. All three of these boats cost in the five digits. If you add that to the interest paid, repair and maintenance costs, marina storage costs, and gasoline, the cost per use of each boat must be astronomical. If this is you, please tell someone who is drooling down the isles at the local boat show. Tell him or her your story and save them some money.

Let’s make this Un-Joneses movement a national phenomena and reverse the tendency to over-indulge while we under-enjoy our limited time on this earth.

Image courtesy of nycangel78

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11 Responses to Un-Joneses of the World, Speak Up!

  1. Nivek says:

    What is it with the expensive weddings? There’s a 50/50 chance you’ll end up divorced so instead take the money you would have spent and put it in a CD. Then, when and if you make it to your 20th anniversary you’ll have earned enough in interest alone to celebrate in a big way.

  2. Cortni says:

    I totally agree! Why are so many people wrapped up in what others think or looking wealthy when it really doesn’t matter?
    We bought a smaller house and are so happy we did- lower utilities, less furniture to buy to fill it, less home improvement projects. And even though we live away from my family, we hardly ever have overnight visitors either!

  3. princessperky says:

    Excellent ideas…as a parent who is happy to have kids, I am well..looked down upon should I ever suggest that folk not have kids…don’t get me wrong, I like mine, and if you want em (and will try your best to take care of them) go for it. That is all we have going for us.

    But don’t assume it is all roses and tea parties (or football and chips) having kids is HARD, and expensive, and worth it only to those who really really really prefer all the whiny, messy, puky, poopy, drooly smiles and giggles to … well anything else.

    BTw I have 1100 sq foot, and overnight company a decent amount…a bit uncomfortable for a day or two, but company is worth it.

  4. Mordecai says:

    That’s maybe not the best advice I’ve heard, and some of it certainly doesn’t sound like wisdom. Besides, you don’t identify what values you do have. I mean, if such and such is not important to you, what IS?

    In terms of wealth-building, it’s hard to ignore the opportunity to leverage a mortgage in the US. I can borrow a huge amount of money at a rate adjusted for tax-savings of just 2-3%. Instead of tying up my savings in real estate, I can put it into an IRA and max-out my 401k contributions. I don’t suggest “too much house,” but I would say to look at the terms of debt rather than the size of the investment. I think most people that are “over-extended” have too much debt, not just too much house.

    Children: I place one of the highest values on children, but I don’t think they cost that much if you have good health insurance (children do not really need much money, but healthcare providers apparently do). I think people’s impractical expectations about children are what cost them. For example: their desire for costly dare care convenience, and exorbitant gifts of multi-year vacations at university. For me, the greatest financial constraint my children have brought about is through my desire to be with them rather than serving a job that provides greater income. I’m hoping to transition to investment income and a more modest income produced in cooperation with my kids as they become teenagers.

    I agree that extravagant weddings are unwise unless they’re paid for by more financially mature family members. My wife and I paid for ours and the modest venue itself was the largest charge (it was a garden), notwithstanding the engagement ring. I agree that an anniversary or child’s wedding is a better occasion for extravagance, but we’re not really socialites so that’s probably not for us.

    Vacations: We mostly visit family for now since we’ve small babies. We had a nice honeymoon but most of it was in our new town, and new state

    Boats: I live near a world-class and world-famous boating lake. I considered it but declined because my family and small children were unlikely to participate enough to make it worth while. I agree that boats are “a hole in the water into which one throws money.

  5. Maria says:

    I guess I am officially an Un-Joneses. The house is “moderate”… did not “plan” on having a child so early in the relationship, wouldn’t change a thing though….you just have to be smart about what you’re going to spend your money on…if you need diapers, buy the diapers and not the $300 purse you were eyeing…vacation? do your research…just a little time on the net can save you a ton of money and you might actually put a vacation together that you’ll enjoy (what a concept)…would never even CONSIDER an expensive wedding…I’m making a lot of the stuff myself and not buying all that crap that noone cares about anyway…..plus, we bought silver rings instead of platinum or gold…we figure, no one will know the difference anyway (saved about 2K)…LIFE IS TOO SHORT – don’t mean to shout but how easily we forget this simple truth.

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  7. jj says:

    Can we add expensive children’s birthday party to this list? I went to one where the poor 1-year old was crying the whole time and scared of the pony that was brought in for a cowboy-themed extravaganza.
    It’s amazing what we all do for the sake of appearance and what others think

  8. Leigh says:

    Children ARE expensive! With small children, it’s not so bad as long as you do have good health coverage for them. (But don’t forget the increase in monthly premiums from single or couples coverage to family coverage. And fortunately most insurance now covers well-child and vaccination costs. Mine didn’t.) As they get older, they get more expensive. I don’t buy name brand clothes. My kids have a game system that they pooled their yard-cleaning money for. They don’t hang out at the mall or go to movies every weekend. They do, however, have music lessons, band instruments, sports fees (plus uniforms and equipment), one child wears hearing aids, which are NOT covered by health insurance and are quite expensive. Our high-end dental insurance only covers 50% of orthodontia.

    I’m not sure what’s meant by ‘exorbitant gifts of multi-year vacations at university,’ but even with a scholarship to a hometown university and a part-time job, there will be additional expenses that must be paid. And if my child works hard and wins a scholarship to his desired college 1000 miles away, I will assist him with expenses not covered by the scholarship and a part-time job. This simply reinforces what I have been teaching him all his life: Education is important and, if at all possible, do what you love.

    I will not pay for a $40,000 wedding and I hope I have instilled enough common sense and values in my children to ensure that they won’t, either.

    These are all expenses that practical folks think about when planning their family. You also have to consider the ‘what-ifs.’ What if your child is born or becomes severely handicapped? Health insurance won’t cover everything. In some cases, they disallow all treatment related to a diagnosis, such as hearing impairment or autism.

    I don’t think it’s selfish or anti-child to consider the expenses of raising children. It’s actually a very loving thing to do, ensuring that you have the financial means and personal committment to provide for your children. People who aren’t prepared to make the sacrifices shouldn’t have them and their choice should be respected.

  9. princessperky says:

    quote: “People who aren’t prepared to make the sacrifices shouldn’t have them and their choice should be respected.”

    you know owning a boat takes sacrifice…people don’t lose too much respect (outside of rich snobs) for not making those sacrifices…but even suggest that the sacrifice of a kid isn’t worth it and your terrible….

    bit twisted that we would encourage someone who is not ready to have a kid, yet often leave them alone about some big ticket item like a boat (which is prolly easier and cheaper!)

  10. MESIMPSON says:

    Kids. My wife and I don’t have any. We were in disagreement on that in the beginning. It almost caused us to divorce. She wanted them, I didn’t. Now 25 years later, I think we both realize that if we had gone through with it, divorce would have just been the beginning of a catastrophe for us and the kids. Like many of our generation we found ourselves immersed in radical social change that seemed to conflict with responsible child rearing. First, we both needed to work just to afford a house, food, healthcare, and basic necessities of life for ourselves. So, when would there have been time for kids anyway. Second, it wasn’t easy to keep working as employees of companies that were always downsizing, outsourcing, and relocating. To the best of our abilities, we could only achieve 80% employment, which is another way of saying one of us was involuntarily unemployed about 20% of the time. This dynamic and constant uncertainty about our future welfare made having kids or making long term financial commitments of any kind almost impossible without taking on irresponsible risk.

    Every generation benefits from the experiences of prior ones, but, also must bear the brunt of frustration when the standards and traditions of prior generations conflict with real social change.

    Interestingly enough, my wife and I haven’t totally given up on the idea of child rearing. We know a couple who managed to adopt a child in their 50’s after they took early retirement. It seems to be working out great, since they now have the time, money and wisdom to do it right.

  11. fsilber says:

    There _are_ people who should not have children — namely, people who are not married, and people in desperate poverty in over-populated 3rd-world countries.

    As for the luxuries you miss out on by having kids, your parents, grandparents, and other ancestors all the way back also had this choice. If you don’t believe that having children is worth the sacrifice that your ancestors made to create you, then logically speaking you shouldn’t be here on this earth to enjoy those luxuries, either.

    As for keeping up with the Jones’s, instead of trying to keep up with their spending, if you have disposable income then why not try to keep up with (or better) your neighbors’ progress in saving and investing?

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