Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Keeping Up with Jones

Over at the Middle Class Millionaire, he has a great post on Keeping Up with the Jones, which got me thinking: How do you stop this?

One of the more obvious interim solutions include the Wait Game, where you have a mandatory wait time for all major purchases. Some people use 24 hours, others a week, while some go for 30 days. The point of this method is to get your brain time to process your initial emotional response to see if you really do want this or feel that you do.

Yet to truly get past this envy issue you have to find your own happiness with your life that doesn't require outside approval. You have to understand yourself so that you can honestly assess that critical moment when you have 'enough.' Enough books, food, and love. Happiness should not be a reason for trying to have early retirement, otherwise when you get there you will be disappointed to learn that happiness has everything to do with the now rather than the future. If you can't be happy now, you won't get any happier in early retirement.

So what makes you happy? Are you happy now? If not, why? Those are the questions that will help you get past the keeping up with the Jones attitude.


MillionDollarJourney.com said...

The sooner people realize that "stuff" will not make them happier, the sooner they'll stop trying to keep up with their neighbor.


Already Retired said...

We have a joke in our house. If someone is not happy...their expectations are too high!

Anonymous said...

I posted this on the MCM site - just realized the debate is now over here.
I guess we can agree to disagree.

I think the Joneses provide a much needed benchmark. People care about their consumption RELATIVE TO other's consumption. (Whether they work too much, spend to much or save too much.)

For consumption, the first thing to realize is that there's only two things you can do with your income. Eat it (consume!) or save it (consume later). If we lived in a vacuum (ie. without the Joneses) we probably wouldn't know how much to consume now or later.

On a theoretical level if you're a fella or a gal who's all into the KUWJ (Keep up with the Joneses), it's not clear at all that you will consume more and save less. Think about it. Presumably, you not only care about KUWJ today, but also tomorrow. So you face a choice - consume a bunch today and KUWJ and save less - but this means it'll be harder to KUWJ tomorrow, or - consume little today, saves a bunch and it'll be easier to KUWJ tommorrow. So actually it could go either way.

-----and my point is...----

ENVY on the part of consumers could actually drive them to SAVE MORE as they all struggle to keep up with each other tomorrow.

Whether you like it or not Keeping up with the Joneses has mainly a strong effect on the composition of consumption.

Canadian Dream said...


I agree.


Thanks for the joke.


I have to agree that we need to just disagree about this one.