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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 March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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