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The Jone$es

In the midst of wiping a runny nose, doling out Tylenol every 4 hours, and cuddling with a feverish toddler these last few days, I wondered what I should blog about.  Clearly I had time on my hands to think {not blog} when my little fussy-butt poor, sick baby only wanted me to “hold.” {I really love when he wants to sit on my lap and cuddle, but I can do without the sickly wimpering.}

 I started wondering why many people have financial issues.  One thing that popped in my head was the need for approval from others.

Let’s unpack this, shall we?

There are people in this world that think others care what car they drive, what house they live in, and/or what kind of clothes they wear. The truth is, other people are thinking about someone -themselves! You know who you think of most? You. It’s human nature. But, if those that think others really do care actually get approval from others, they feel more secure in themselves as people.  Or maybe they feel affirmed that they are making the right choices in their purchases when people “ooooh” and “ahhh” over their latest gadget, gizmo, or garment. I especially find it amusing when people feel the need to point out the new piece of jewelry, gaming system, or electronic device just to get the “high” from admiration of others. What’s amusing is that they clearly knew people weren’t thinking about them so they had to basically ask for the approval.

You know what I mean by “high”, right? Here is an example: When I was younger and I would overhear my parents bragging about me to another person, it was an awesome feeling!  I walked a little bit taller, held my head higher and felt like I they thought I was the best daughter in the world.  It was a high.  A rush of “feel-good” endorphins that flooded my system. {Apparently you also get a rush of endorphins from working out, but I have yet to discover that.}

You may get this feeling when someone compliments you or admires a trait you have.  I would call this a positive reaction {endorphins} from a positive action {compliment}. It is great and wonderful, but the moment doesn’t last long….at least until the next compliment or admiration. Now, I could go on about the value of encouraging others, but that needs a whole separate post of its own for another day.

Enter the Joneses.  You’ve heard the idiom, “Keeping up with the Joneses.” The Joneses are the people that are constantly going out to eat, buying new clothes, cars, boats, and going on vacations. You name it, they are doing it. If they are doing it and you are not, then you might not fit into their social stratosphere.  For some people that is not acceptable. To be at the Joneses level means having the perception of being looked up to and admired.  Notice I said, “having the perception”. You see, when you are trying to keep up with the Joneses {or think you are the Joneses} you get a “high” just thinking you are better than the average Joe. There’s a biblical term for this, pride. And to make sure you are at a higher level than most of your peers, you continue to buy and spend.

The truth is, no one really is thinking about the Joneses. And even though this is true, people tend to want to be the Joneses. How can this be? People can be aware of their environment (i.e. their neighbors’ cars and houses) without consciously thinking about the people that own them. In essence, they covet the self-perception of status. But there is one big problem with coveting {either coveting someone else’s things or desiring that others covet your things}. When you covet, it is a complete act of selfishness rooted in pride. There is a reason God ended the 10 Commandments with it! It is selfishness steeped in self-deception with yourself as the focus.

And guess what?

The Joneses are B.R.O.K.E!

You know what else?

There are many people who do not care what the Joneses drive, where they live or what they wear. These are the people who are more concerned about not having debt, giving to others, having a savings account, and investing in retirement. Those with this mindset become truly wealthy.  Truly wealthy people are more secure in the choices they make that when others approve or disapprove because it has no bearing on their decisions.   When you are a wealthy person you will find that you don’t envy the Joneses.

Why don’t they envy the Joneses?

Truly wealthy people have had to think long-term and ignored the Joneses while on their journey to wealth! In essence, they have trained their brain to be Jones-proof. Interestingly, once they become wealthy, they don’t act like the Joneses either.

There are BIG difference between the Joneses and the truly wealthy:

  1. The Joneses want you to know what they spend, the truly wealthy could care less.
  2. The Joneses hope you never catch up to them, the truly wealthy want others to be financially free.
  3. The Joneses give off a vibe of self-importance while the truly wealthy are humble.
  4. The Joneses brag about their purchases and the truly wealthy never mention their purchases.
  5. The Joneses get their “high” from your envy (or rather their perception of it).  The truly wealthy get their “high” from being financially secure and giving generously.
  6. The Joneses tend to lack integrity with money and elsewhere.  The truly wealthy are fanatical about integrity.
Ultimately, the Joneses are very insecure about themselves and what decisions they make in life.  In order to keep up appearances, they spend money even if it means they go into massive debt.  Their personal life is usually in disarray even though it looks like it’s “perfect.” Why? Because their thinking has developed roots in selfishness and covetousness. They try to fill the holes in their life with “stuff” and hope that the accolades from others will mask the pain if only for a little bit.
Personally I don’t want to keep up with the Joneses.  Because even though it looks like a good life, it really is not.