Happy Thanksgiving everyone! In my last post I talked about the importance of gratitude. This week, I’m going to twist that theme a bit and talk about an old saying, “Keeping up with the Joneses.”
There’s no quicker way to derail your gratitude than a bit of “neighbor envy.” As you look around (either in the “real world” or on social media), you might notice that other families live in bigger homes, take more vacations, or eat in more expensive restaurants. When you pick your child up at school, you might see other mothers and fathers with designer jackets or sleek new vehicles. It’s easy to feel inferior, especially when so many people on social media are constantly talking about their latest adventure or last night’s gourmet meal.
How can you help but feel envious?
How can you cut through all the feelings of inadequacy and start shifting your focus to the bigger picture?
It’s not necessarily easy, but it can be done! Start with gratitude. As I mentioned in my last post, take time every day to be thankful for what you have. Remember to appreciate the things you normally take for granted: the roof over your head, love from your family and friends, a steady job, food on the table. Be thankful for a warm cup of coffee or a car that works.
Appreciating what you have is one step toward defeating the Joneses mentality, but don’t stop there! Continue your crusade against empty materialism by starting a conversation. Talk to your family. Ask your children about the meaningful parts of their lives. If they point to clothing or toys as being meaningful, ask them how long those things will last. Then, remind them of the things that truly matter in life.
Lead by example. Take your children on volunteer experiences. Demonstrate how lucky you all are…even if you don’t have a pool in your backyard!
Remember, your children or significant other can also be a support for you when you feel like giving in to the Joneses mentality. Even though it may be uncomfortable at first, start having regular conversations about finances with your significant other and set smart savings goals that help you save with a purpose, not just in the pursuit of more “stuff.” With these goals in mind, it will be easier to resist empty spending. If you’re focused on saving with a purpose, it will also be easier to nudge your family members (or to have them nudge you!) to ignore the Joneses and avoid unnecessary purchases.
I know it’s easy to get into “spending mode” around the holidays. In my next post, I plan on talking about meaningful gifts your family members can give one another. Think of it as your “holiday gift guide with a purpose.” Stay tuned!