I am going to be the first one to say it. Okay, maybe not the first, but the first that I have heard say it other than here and here on this blog: Forget what “the Joneses” are doing. Frankly, I don’t care what they are doing or what they are paying for, unless they plan to pay for it for me. Considering how unlikely that is, what they do really does not concern me.
I am tired of hearing about what people think is “normal”– the house in the suburbs, two cars per household, vacations to Disney World, etc. Guess what? We cannot afford this norm. So often do I hear how someone else that makes the same or less than we do is buying this and doing that, and I find it really tiring. We have given into that lie in the past– we have followed the “normal” course of things, and all that it gave us was houses that we could not afford that quickly became money pits and lots of credit card debt to go with it. Since we stopped giving into what is expected, we have managed to stabilize our situation some, and we hope to have this positive trend continue in the future. It has not been without faults and bumps in the road, but all that you can do is move forward to make things better.
Today we were discussing some options for obtaining further control over our financial circumstance, and my husband mentioned his concern for taking actions that are considered untraditional by some, and because of it, facing discrimination, because we are not “normal.” I expressed once again how we cannot worry about what is normal to others, but that rather we have to worry about what works for us. So strong is this tendency in us to worry about what others think, which is really pointless, since other people do not pay our bills.
In light of this conversation, it was very timely to receive an email from DailyWorth featuring this article:
The post is written by someone who has been there, done that in terms of living the “normal” American life filled with its share of debt and downfall, all the while questioning why it is not working out for them. As one who has been in the same situation, I identified with the writer greatly. What do you do when “normal” does not work for you? The writer’s response to the problem can be paraphrased by saying: “Forget the Joneses”–in other words, “shift… your definition of what’s normal…”
It is still difficult to ignore others’ expectations for or judgments of you, but I think that the tides are starting to turn in our American psyche about following peer pressure. More and more people are cancelling their phone lines or cable service to save money. People are renting or downsizing instead of getting into mortgage payments that they cannot afford. They are determining whether the high expense of college loans are worth the benefit to be obtained, and some are choosing more technical careers that can be achieved at a lower cost. Even the popularity of coupon/ saving websites like this one speaks to the collective desire of the American people to do things differently.
So, the next time that you are worrying yourself about attempting to keep up with others and their spending habits, realize that the Joneses are no longer your friends. Forget them, and establish your own new “normal.”
“Everything we possess that is not necessary for life or happiness becomes a burden, and scarcely a day passes that we do not add to it.” ~Robert Brault