When You Have to Keep Up With the Joneses

We often talk about keeping up with the Joneses. When we accuse someone of keeping up with the Joneses, we usually mean that they are buying cars, clothes, or other tangible items because their friends and neighbors have those items. They want to fit in with their peer group, so they try to mimic their lifestyle. Generally, this is not a good thing. Not only is it expensive, it kills your individuality and creativity. I’ve always told people to stop keeping up with their friends and just have and do whatever they can afford and that they enjoy. Why be a slave to the desires of other people?

Recently, however, a friend came to me with a twist on the keeping up with the Joneses problem.

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8 Responses to When You Have to Keep Up With the Joneses

  1. Joan.of.the.Arch says:

    I think this person needs to calculate the percentage of pay that is being wasted away just to have the job.

  2. Kacy says:

    I am often in a similar situation at work. Maybe he could take a snack with him to work and have a small, inexpensive item at lunch. If he descretely eats a peanut butter sandwich, then he can be satisfied with a salad or soup at lunch and no one will know. Also if he can tactfully suggest that lunches would be more enjoyable if they did not have to discuss work outside of the office he might create a habit. Then on the days he chooses not to join, he might not miss as much.

  3. Anita says:

    Break the mold buddy and be you!

  4. Bben says:

    Publicly announce you are on a diet and are trying to lose weight. Possibly you could say it’s doctors orders – and what doctor isn’t going to tell you to lose a little weight. Then when you go out with the crowd, order something inexpensive, such as a small side salad, and only drink water – the drinks in a restaurant can be expensive. Not only will it not cost as much as a full meal, but you will actually avoid the inevitable weight gain of eating a full meal at lunch every day. And might actually lose some weight.

  5. Scott says:

    I would second what Bben says as that was my first thought. After a bit he might find that one or two days a week the discussions are less work related, and if so he should pick those days to work out at lunch time instead (Gym, running, whatever) to back up the “need to lose weight” message. Perhaps there are some things that can be high culture but low cost that he could convince some co-workers to go to once in a while (try monthly to start) instead of the epensive lunch (museums?). Try to “brand” himself as high cultured but thinking outside the box.

  6. baselle says:

    Good strategies up above. I’d continue – time to watch and learn your first few months. Note the lunches that are productive in this way, and the ones that are not. For example, which lunches does your boss/peers attend, which ones not? (If your boss works half-Fridays, likely that the Friday lunches can be safely avoided.) Are some/all/any lunches expensed? Once upon a time, if you talked shop it was considered a “business lunch” – this is especially the case in outside sales and there is an outside client involved. Ask quietly whether one is expected to save receipts.

    This is not an uncommon problem. 20 years ago I worked in a sales office where a fair amount of business was done after hours at various “adult” venues, and I had to save the receipts for them to be expensed. It was quite discriminatory if you were a woman, or just wasn’t interested in spending for that sort of thing. :)

  7. Gail says:

    He is lucky he even has the option of eating in. My brother had a job once where the guys weren’t allowed to bring their lunch as their eating out was helping to uphold the companies image. don’t know if the company paid for their lunches but I thought it odd. I’m enough of a don’t keep up with the Joneses that a job like that wouldn’t even interest me.

  8. CindyM says:

    He probably won’t be able to fool these coworkers with the “I’m on a diet” excuse for long, and if he’s truly of a frugal bent, putting money aside so he can use it for expensive lunches will continually drive him nuts. Hope he works slowly but surely on finding another position that’s not so stifling to his personality.

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