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It’s Time to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

It’s Time to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

“Oh my goodness did you see the new Mercedes Kate just posted on Facebook? She is so lucky. My car is 6 years old and needs a new transmission.”

“No, but did you see the Instagram photos of Jessica’s family ski vacation in the Alps? It makes our weekend at Six Flags seem pitiful.”

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The current culture of prevalent social media has made it too easy for everyone to compare their lives to others, especially when it comes to material items and vacations. We can see the lives of friends, family, and others on social media and it becomes easy to want everything they have. We may even feel we deserve what they have. We can literally make ourselves miserable and unhappy by wanting what others have.

Materialism does not make us happy. Contentment comes from within. A mindset of gratitude for what you already have is more likely to make you happy than to endlessly pursue what everyone else may have in terms of possessions. There are ways to understand “The Joneses” that can help you stop wanting what others have and thus trying to keep up with them. Appearance can be deceptive. Just because someone appears to have lots of “stuff” doesn’t mean their life is better, or happier. In fact, trying to be a Jones can get you in lots of trouble and make your life quite miserable. Here are some thoughts to ponder about “The Joneses”.

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Debt so Deep They Actually Own Nothing

There are many families living in so much debt that they don’t actually own anything. They have debt on all of their vehicles with the bank owning more of their vehicles than they do. They have a mortgage on their home and put very little down when buying it. They buy their furniture on payment plans. Their credit cards are in full use and never paid off, as they are used to living beyond their means. Nothing they have is truly theirs. It is owned by the credit card company, the bank, and the furniture store. It is a life built like a house of cards that can come toppling down anytime with a major life catastrophe such as cancer, a debilitating car accident, or a home invasion that wasn’t covered by the home owner’s insurance. A life built on money borrowed is a scary way to live, because it can easily fall apart when tragedy strikes. And it will eventually strike, as no one is immune to accidents, health problems, or death. The question is only when it will strike. Too many “Joneses” aren’t prepared for tragedy, as they are living on borrowed money and esentially a borrowed lifestyle.

Buying a House at the Top of Their Budget

When shopping for a house it becomes easy to get lured into buying at the high end of your budget. It doesn’t matter your budget range, this is a human tendency; to want the maximum of whatever you are looking to buy. This is why many people become “house poor”. “House poor” means you have so much of your monthly income or budget going toward house payments that you have to sacrifice other things such as family vacations, parties, and other luxuries that you would otherwise be able to afford had you purchased a less expensive home. If they were to buy at the low end of their budget, think of the possibilities that could be done with that money each month that wouldn’t go towards an expensive home. Making memories are far more important than having the biggest, best house on the block. When you are on your death bed are you going to say “I am so glad I had the best house among my friends” or will it be something a long the lines of “I am so thankful for the time that I got to spend with friends and family in my lifetime, and all the wonderful memories we had together.”

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Fake, Faux, Replica

Whatever you want to call it, wearing or using something that is a knock-off of the original is… saving money? Being fake? Who cares. Not our business. Just know that not all of what you see others wearing or using in life is the authentic brand. Knock-offs are everywhere these days, so don’t compare your handbag to others because you may be thinking they paid $400 when in reality they spent $25. Buy what you like because it’s your style and what you want, not because of a brand or because others own it. Happiness comes from being yourself, not someone who you think others want you to be. Don’t be a fake and don’t buy a fake because you think you will be happier, neither will successfully make you happy in the long term.

Living Paycheck to Paycheck

There are many people in our country living paycheck to paycheck. They don’t have money in savings and they don’t have money squirreled away for emergencies. They may seem to have it all because of everything that they have and all that they do, but they are really on the brink of disaster. If tragedy strikes they will be in a world of hurt because of their overspending and lack of saving. Living paycheck to paycheck out of necessity is one thing. It is another story when living this way is purely done for the satisfaction of our desires. Living by the urge to buy, buy and buy will not bring happiness long term. It will set you up for disaster, lots of worry and anxiety when living paycheck to paycheck is done for the pursuit of happiness in materialism.

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Sometimes They Are Lucky

They may have a wealthy spouse or they have a family inheritance. They may have a fabulous job and have made wise saving choices to afford what they have. You don’t know. Frankly, it’s none of our business. All that matters is that we are responsible with the money that is provided in our own lives. Living within our means gives us peace of mind that is precious. Having anxiety about money destroys marriages. It can give people so much angst that they need to now spend money on counseling or even worse, a divorce.

Living within a budget and the means you have will provide you contentment, as long as you stop comparing yourself to others. Look in your own life and what you do have. Find gratitude daily in the things you may have, such as a vehicle that works, a roof over your head, and food on the table. There are many in the world without these basics needs for survival. Look to the less fortunate for your comparisons if you have a need to compare. Gratitude should be the response, which makes you more content with all that you have been blessed with in this life.

Featured photo credit: Cadillac via kaboompics.com

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Dr. Magdalena Battles

A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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