While there is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to fit in and have the same things your friends do, it has unfortunately gotten out of hand. Way out of hand, in fact. More and more people are gladly getting themselves deep into debt just to fund a lifestyle that they don’t really need and surely can’t afford. Yes, keeping up with the Joneses has now become keeping up with the Vanderbilts.
We live in a time where every year in America a million and a half people file for bankruptcy. They might blame the economy or the government, but in many cases it’s because they were funding lifestyles they couldn’t afford and it finally caught up with them. They were buying cars and houses they didn’t have the money for and charging more and more on their credit cards, and paying less and less on them until they had a wallet full of over the limit cards and a mailbox full of bills. Millions of people in this country have lots of things, but sadly they are maybe two paychecks away from pushing all of those things around in a shopping cart.
The way it all happens is simple. One couple goes out and buys a house that is much bigger and more expensive than what they can afford. Then they have to have furniture to fill up all that extra space, so they go out and finance lots of it. Of course, the old furniture doesn’t look so good next to the new stuff, so they go out and finance even more. Then they feel like they have to have a nicer and more expensive car to sit in front of their nicer and more expensive house, so they finance one of those as well. Who are we kidding? They probably lease it. Maybe even two.
Then their friends see their new cars parked in front of their new house with all the new furniture, so they go out and do the same thing. They know they can’t afford it, but they’re afraid their friends might not want to socialize with them if they don’t keep up. Then all of their friends do the same thing. Before you know it, there is a whole neighborhood full of families deep in debt. Sadly, these neighborhoods are popping up all over America. What’s even sadder is that every family is convinced they are the only ones who can’t really afford all of it. They wonder how their friends can afford it, but they can’t. But little do they know that all of their friends are wondering the exact same thing. One of the easiest and yet most idiotic ways a person can get into debt is by trying to impress people. That’s why I say that people who do this are idiots. Which in this case means – In Debt, Impressing Others Though. Don’t be an “idiot.”
I’m not saying it’s wrong to live a nice lifestyle. The reason you work hard is so you can do just that. But I am saying if you have to finance that lifestyle, then you need to make some serious changes. You will never get out of debt and have plenty of money to invest if you don’t stop this nonsense right now. You have to live below your means. Having a bunch of stuff doesn’t make you important and there is a huge difference between having stuff and having money. And even if you don’t have a lot of stuff and think you have it tough, 95% of the world would kill to live like you.
Living below your means simply means spending less than you make. A doctor in a hospital who makes $300,000 a year but spends $301,00 will be a lot worse off in the long run than the custodian in that same hospital who makes $30,000 a year but spends $29,000 and saves that extra $1,000. Oh sure, the doctor probably has a bigger house and more toys to play with. But he’d probably trade all that for some peace of mind. A house with five bedrooms won’t do you a bit of good if you can’t get to sleep in any of those rooms.