10 Clues You Are Trying to Keep up with the Joneses

keeping up with the Joneses

It’s far easier to fall into the “keeping up with the Joneses” trap than most people believe. You look at your friends and all of the cool stuff that they have. You like what you see, so you begin to buy all that cool stuff as well. Before you realize it, you’re surrounded by the latest and greatest model of everything and working 3 jobs to pay for it all. The easiest way to stop the madness is to recognize the signs and break the cycle before it gets too far. Let’s look at a few of the possible signs that you might be trying to keep up with the Joneses, and the steps that you can take to avoid falling into this trap.

You drive a Cadillac, but can’t make the rent payment

One of the most common status symbols is a car. Don’t go overboard just to look good in your wheels. New car payments can easily break the budget. Better to drive a Saturn than to have to live in your new BMW. Find an affordable car that meets your needs rather than one that keeps your bank account empty.

You have to have the newest smart phone as soon as it hits the stores

New cell phones, tablet PCs and other personal electronic devices are as much about fashion as function in today’s society. Consumers will stand in line for hours when a new model is released, even if there are very few new features. If you’re one of those people, train yourself to wait a few weeks or even months to buy the new version. Chances are it’s going to have bugs that need to be fixed, anyway.

You’re a VIP at the rent-to-own stores

With the high price tag on new electronics, home furnishing and such, it’s almost impossible to purchase them without financing. If you’ve over-extended your credit, the rent-to-own alternative is a seemingly easy solution. These rental centers fill an important niche, and even though interest rates are extremely high, it’s even possible to improve your credit score through your purchases if you’re careful. However, if you have accounts with more than one store at a time and you’re receiving phone calls to let you know about new merchandise, you’re probably in way over your head.

Your total credit card bill is as high as your mortgage payment

Most middle-class households have at least one major credit card. Credit cards have many advantages such as making buying easy, and in emergencies they can be invaluable. The down side is that credit card debt has a nasty way of piling up. Don’t get caught in the loop of paying only the monthly minimum on your credit card bill. If you can’t afford to pay off the balance at the end of the month, don’t make any more purchases on the card until you do.

You have TVs you don’t watch

That’s a bit of a generalization. It’s nice to have stuff, but stuff you don’t use is a waste, whether it’s televisions, furniture, electric corkscrews – anything, especially hi-tech, expensive gadgets. If you have things just to have them, it’s likely that you’re on your way to being in the trap.

You purchase what you see the stars wearing or using

If the items on the top of your to-buy list include the fashions you see on reality shows or kitchen gadgets you saw on your favorite daytime drama, you might want to consider why you’re buying them. If the answer is simply that you saw it on Days of Our Lives and had to have it, consider not buying them at all.

The savings account is empty, but the closet is overflowing

If you’re spending enough on clothes and nice things that you’re not building any savings, it’s time to take another look at the budget. Set yourself a minimum payment to your savings account every payday and stick to it. Have a rummage sale and bank the proceeds. Don’t let your spending whittle away the emergency or vacation fund.

You eat out every payday even if you have to let a bill slide

We all enjoy a night out and dinner and/or with the boys or the girls on payday is a great way to unwind when you collect your pay. If you’re juggling bills in order to have that night out, you’re starting a cycle that’s hard to break. Skip the night on the town and cover the rent, or you may find yourself eating at the soup kitchen.

You put more emphasis on name brand than fit or quality

Ladies, if you’re carrying a Gucci bag, but can’t fit everything you need in it, maybe you should have considered the one you saw at Target. You know, the one that was just right, but now you can’t remember the name? Guys, Calvin Klein isn’t going to care if you buy store-brand slacks; in fact he isn’t going to know.

You don’t know your debt to income ratio or credit score, but you know where to find the best price on Prada

This is a question of priorities. If you worry more about the state of fashion than your own financial state, it’s time for an intervention.

Don’t let your social status become more important than your wellbeing. Living beyond your means is a downward spiral to a very, very bad place.

(Photo courtesy of kennethkonica)

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8 Responses to 10 Clues You Are Trying to Keep up with the Joneses

  1. Tiff says:

    I’m good! :) I know people who probably do all of those things. Silly isn’t it?

  2. Denise says:

    Yes it it silly. Even after what this small recession people still can’t see that they need to live within their means.

  3. Pingback: The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Overfocus Edition | The Simple Dollar

  4. Mika says:

    Live within ones means? What the heck does that mean? Lol its like trying to explain that big purchases should always be saved for and paid with cash. This will make you think twice when you see the actual money you’re about to drop on an item and the items worth. But after explaining that you’ll probably get, pay with cash? why I have a credit card…

  5. ThiNg says:

    If you want to save yourself a lot of these issues, cancel your TV/Cable/Satellite subscription and throw out the advertising flyers you get in the mail. Name me another service that charges your family money to bombard you with advertisements or to convince you that your life is less without a specific object.

    We cut cable a year ago. Best thing we ever did. Get out from under their thumbs people. YOU decide what makes you happy…

  6. Marie says:

    Well, my monthly credit card bill is larger than my mortgage – but I’ve paid it off every month for the last 22 years. I like the rewards it offers and so put every bill I can on it: groceries, household necessities, medicine, copays, my most recent home repair, even once a down payment on a car.

    The first five years I had the card, I recorded every purchase in an extra check register with a running total to make sure I could afford to pay it off.

  7. Gail says:

    Marie, that is a very intelligent way to use your credit card only too many don’t do that. When I was married to Mr. Big Bucks (as my youngest called him) our mortgae was less than our credit card bills AND I could only pay the minimum every month.. Decided this was absolute nonsense and that he would never change his spending habits and divorced him. Sold the shouse, paid the credit cards off with the proceeds and began lively sanely again. New hubby and I have our problems financially due to my not being able to work, but we both do what we can to bring in the needed funds to survive. I have no desire to keep up with the Jones. Just make sure I have a supply of chocolate and something to read and I can survived life.

    We have rabbit ears on our TV and get 7 channels which is more than I grew up with (3 being different PBS stations) and that is plenty for us even though some nights we have to adjust the antennae on the TV to get a show in especially when the weather is bad. We sit and scoff at the ads. One of the latest that I laugh at is for those that have front loading High Energy washers that get an odor and this handy dandy chemical to throw in your washer and run a cycle or two (empty). Much easier and cheaper than that. Always have you last wash load of the day be in your hottest water and then when the clothes are done, take them out and leave the washer door open so the inside dries out! If you need more than that, wash a load with hot water and bleach or hot water and baking soda. Too many people asking what can I buy to solve this problem instead of what will solve the problem. Two really big differences in ways of thinking.

  8. Kevin says:

    Marie, I do much the same thing, except I don’t use my CC to purchase “everything”, I use it for occasional on line purchases pay pal isn’t available for, and at “pay before you fuel gas stations”. Instead of running a second register, I deduct directly from my checking register the amount of the purchase, just as I would if I had written a check. Recording the company and overview of items, and a notation the CC was used, and check them off when the check for the CC clears and is checked. On top of that, I pay my insurances annually and save money by doing so(life,auto & home), I keep a reserve for each one of them at the front of my check register, I add to them 1/12th the annual total every month, when I pay the bills, deducting it out of my check register. When they come due, write the check and record like normal, with a note the, amount is subtracted from their reserve, and note in the reserve the check #, date, next to the amount subtracted.

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