The Real Reason You’re Broke

It’s hard enough to keep your spending in check when all you’re trying to do is curb your own needs and wants, let alone when you make the dreadful mistake of trying to keep up with The Joneses.

The familiar archetype is built from the 1950’s Joneses who had a big house, two cars, a swimming pool, TV and the latest model of vacuum cleaner. And while this time has been called the golden age of advertising, fast forward sixty-something years and things have gotten much worse.

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With the help of social media and reality shows, unnecessary spending has gone through the roof, although we’re now more likely to try and keep up with the Kardashians than the Joneses (or trawl the feed of Rich Kids of Instagram or follow any one of a million fashion bloggers).

We’re fed a constant stream of images of high end cars, runway fashions, the latest gadgets or the most lavish of getaways, all styled in a way that makes one think, ‘I must have that.’ Gen Y feel this pressure more than almost any other demographic, probably part of the reason we’re always broke.

It doesn’t help that since the mid-20th century lifestyle inflation has risen exponentially as a result of a larger marketplace of products combined with increased levels of advertising and exposure.

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But relentlessly wanting more stuff inevitably leads to a constant state of dissatisfaction.

This might be because you buy things you know you can’t afford, leading to panic and intense buyer’s remorse, or even if you can afford the spend, you’re constantly keeping an eye out for what you need next to be more attractive, interesting or cool.

It’s no joke that this want-buy-cycle leads to increased levels of anxiety and depression in consumers, particularly in impressionable Gen Ys.

What everyone needs to remind themselves is, The Joneses are broke. Unless they really are Kim Kardashian or some other ‘celebrity’ (I use that term loosely) with more money than sense, chances are they are feeling the same pressure and are spending beyond their means also.

According to a Newspoll survey more than two thirds of Australians say they can’t afford everything they buy. And if they’re still buying it, it usually means one thing: credit cards. If you frequent this site I don’t even need to go into how bad that issue is, ain’t nobody got time for that (right now).

 

“… Relentlessly wanting more stuff inevitably leads to a constant state of dissatisfaction.”

 

So, how do we stop keeping up with The Joneses and just keep up with ourselves? Well, here’s a start:

  • Stop comparing yourself to others. Truth is you don’t know what their financial situation is, and even if they look like they’re balling out they may very well be balling on someone else’s budget, namely the bank’s or their parent’s.
  • Live within your means. Obvious. Set a budget and no matter how much you earn you absolutely must spend less if you are going to save anything.
  • Don’t enable yourself. Cancel your credit cards, park your savings in an account not linked to a card, do whatever you can to stop yourself from spending unnecessarily. You could even take your debit card and stick a piece of paper with a big ‘NO’ written in marker on it. You’ll be too embarrassed to take that out of your wallet anyway.
  • Be happy with where you are and what you have. This is a bit harder as it means changing your mental perception, but despite the fact that money can buy you some happiness, it doesn’t buy you any permanent joy or peace. Put your time and energy into more fulfilling projects, relationships or hobbies.

We all have our Joneses. It might be your best friend, someone you work with or A Real Housewife of Beverly Hills. But regardless, you’ve got to focus on living your life, not someone else’s, because in the end it’s your bank account that’s paying for it, not theirs.

Image: Keeping Up With The Kardashians