Have you ever heard the expression: keep up with the Joneses? When my wife and I bought our second home, we got it because it was the perfect combination of my wants, and her wants. I wanted land and space, my wife wanted convenience and closeness. We finally found a house with the rare combination of both, something hard to do in the city we live in.
When we got the house, one of the features that attracted our family to it, was the open space around the house. At the time, there was an empty one-acre lot to the right of our home. Since then, a new house has been built on that lot. New house means new neighbors!
Since then, we have noticed that our neighbors pride themselves in having the best of everything: best house in the neighborhood, best car, best driveway (yes, they claimed their driveway the best and honestly, who cares!), best “roof”, best this, best that, and the pressure to other neighbors to keep up with them has escalated to an all-time high. I am sure you can relate to the feeling, and I am sure there is a neighbor like that around you.
One of the most common pressures of our country today is the idea that you must have the latest and greatest of everything that is out there. From the latest cars, to the most amazing phones, corporations continue day after day marketing to you (the consumer) the idea that you NEED to have these items, and it works, people continue to fall for it.
NO, you don’t have to have the latest cars, phones or whatever. It is not that it is bad or evil to have them. Anyone can have something nice. However, at the least you must calculate the cost, and what financial impact having those items will bring to your family. Since that cartoon strip came out in 1916, this toxic idea to have better and bigger had affected our everyday lives. Do you see what is happening here? The Joneses are living a lie, a lie of debt, stress and financial oppression.
Here at Saving For Hope, we pride ourselves for being countercultural when it comes to finances. we have identified 3 lies that are keeping the Joneses (and you if you follow suit) poor.
- You need a bigger house. Families in the US are living in larger homes. According to the census bureau, the median size of a home in the 1970’s was about 1,500 Sqft. Today the median size of a house is about 2,500 Sqft. This is very interesting, since families are smaller today than 30 or 40 years ago. Why the increase? According to experts, this phenomenon is simply an economic compromise, between wanting a bigger home, higher construction costs, and smaller lots. Families in the US want bigger homes, and that comes with a hefty price increase and a smaller lot. Is that worth it?
Discard the LIE: Most families don’t need a bigger home. One way to stop your family from falling into the lie, is to understand that a “small” house can be comfortable, and it will not be a financial burden to your family for the next 30 years. When it comes to houses, think small, save big!
- You need to have the best car. Another lie that is keeping you broke, is that you need to have a car payment. People justify this by saying things like: it will save me gas, I need a reliable car to go to work, I will spend less in maintenance since it is new, etc. All good points, but honestly all lies. You do need a reliable car, but it does not have to be new, or financed. The truth is, you don’t have to get into debt to have a reliable car.
Discard the LIE: Save money little by little and buy a used car paying cash. Continue to trade up your old car for a newer one and pay the difference in cash. Eventually you will have a nice car, perhaps a few years old, that is completely paid off. Used car = more cash!
- A raise will save you from your financial perils. The final lie that is keeping the joneses in debt is that if you have more money, you will solve all your financial issues. If you don’t change your behavior, more money most likely will mean more problems and bigger debt. I see it time and time again, families start making more money and immediately, upgrade their TV’s or cars and they are right back to were they started. Change your lifestyle and spend less, that will help you get ahead now, and if you get a raise later, use that to save even more.
Discard the LIE: Stop drooling for the bigger TV and gadget! Seriously!! You don’t need it, and more money is not going to get you there if you don’t change your behavior. Take a break from wanting more! It will take a lot of stress out of your family.
Dave Ramsey said: “debt is normal… be weird” (paraphrased) we couldn’t agree more. In a time where the Joneses are dictating the way we should live, what we should value, and how we should spend our money, it is time to be weird!! We hope you can get there, it is financial freedom. Enjoy!