Monday, July 6, 2009

Did I try to keep up with others?

Did I try to keep up with others (a.k.a keeping up with the Joneses)? Yes, I did try to keep up with others. I wanted to appear like I had money! Basically, I was lying to the world and myself about my means. I was living outside of my means.

Did I have monetary jealousy? Yes, in the past I thought that the more money you had the happier you were. That was such an untrue statement. I can only say that now because I am out of debt, I have over $35,000 in my retirement account, and my salary is the highest it has ever been in my life. Am I happier now? No, it has actually made it more complicated. Yes, I can pay all of my bills now but it hasn't cured my depression that started in childhood.

Now, I am going to share with you a very valuable advice column that I found in the Washington Post a few years back. I apologize that I don't have the exact date but I just clipped out that advice section and didn't keep the whole paper. My hope is that you find this advice column to be as helpful to you as it was to me. Here it is:

Question: How do you advise others to handle monetary jealousy? My husband and I own a small condo with a lot of hand-me-down furniture. We make about $110,000 combined a year. We owe on both of our cars, plus a little credit card debt, plus $8,000 in student loans. I know that we live pretty comfortably and don't want for much. But friends of ours are much better off- a lot of upgrades to their homes, newer bigger homes, bigger savings and retirement accounts, etc. Sometimes I get really down about our situation and emotional. How do you recommend I deal with this?

Answer: Those friends who seem like they are living large are probably living large are probably living large in big debt. You just never know about people's personal finances. So stop comparing. Credit card debt (even a little), car loans and student loans should be enough to keep you grounded and focused on improving. You are not in bad shape, but with an income of more than $100,000, you should not be carrying credit card debt. And why don't you pay off those student loans of just $8,000? Keep in mind, the problem with looking at other's people's grass is that from your side of the fence, you can only see so much.

I just love this statement: "Keep in mind, the problem with looking at other's people's grass is that from your side of the fence, you can only see so much." So, the next time you are comparing or down and out because someone has more than you remember that statement. It helps a lot and it put things into perspective for me.

Action Items:

1. Are you purchasing for retail therapy?

2. How do you feel when you are buying something?

Best wishes,


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