Everyone knows them. Those people living in the McMansion they can’t afford and driving brand-new shiny status-mobiles with $600 a month lease payments. Those dang Joneses. One spouse gets sucked in by Jones-envy, and the family’s downward financial spiral begins.
Here’s the Rub
In 1928, humorist Robert Quillen said that Americanism is using money you haven’t earned to buy things you don’t need to impress people you don’t like. (I’m sure it’s not limited to America!) And that’s the rub. We’re programmed somehow to feel inadequate in the face of such luxury and accomplishment. If we don’t have nice things, we’re afraid people will feel we’re not doing well. We feel a need to demonstrate that we’re “Just fine, thanks.” We worry that if we’re seen driving a sub-par car, folks will think we’re poor, when in fact the real millionaire next door does just that.
The answer is to reprogram ourselves. Take a closer look the next time Mr. or Mrs. Jones pulls up next to you at a stop light. Do they look happy? Notice their white-knuckle grip on that patent leather steering wheel? Aren’t the folks in those expensive cars the ones who often drive as if they’re stressed and angry at the world? When that car pulls up next to you (or in the driveway next door) start imagining the lease payment. That’s right, put a thought bubble right over the roof with a big, fat $700 on it. By the way, leasing is the most expensive way to operate a car.
Bob-mobiles Are Awesome
Now compare that to the people driving the beaters. Pay careful attention to their demeanor. Most are happy and carefree. They don’t give a hoot when junior opens the car door of his momma’s new Escalate into theirs. They just smile when grannie rams her shopping cart into them at the grocery store. Their car is paid for, and it usually has a name like “Bob-mobile.” They don’t care what the Joneses think of them! Their car gets them from point A to point B just fine. Modern vehicles last forever mechanically, well past when they begin to fade in appearance.
Is That Our Car Payment or House Payment?
The average car payment is going up and up. They’re at a level that approaches what folks paid each month for a mortgage not so long ago. Isn’t that sad? For what—something that depreciates 20% as soon as you drive it off the lot (and rapidly thereafter). It’s crazy to hear so many people now saying they’re “underwater” on their car loan (they owe more on it than it’s worth) and unable to sell it. This was a phrase used in the housing crisis during the Great Recession.
Kiddie Status Envy
Status envy is contagious. The Joneses pass it on to their kids, who then make your kids feel bad at school if they don’t have the latest $999 rose-colored i-something. Fight back. Talk to your kids. You can’t tell them the Joneses are idiots, but you can point out the stupidity of buying things you can’t afford with money you don’t have to impress people you don’t like. Show them how much more things cost when they’re bought by borrowing money. Show them what it looks like to receive your hard-earned pay and have to slice it up into chunks you send to other people for things you bought and no longer even like or use.
One caveat—don’t go hating on everyone out there driving a nice car or living in a nice house. If they’re smiling, they may just have done it the right way. They may have saved for those things and paid cash! That could be you someday. Maybe it already is! You want a good discount? Finance that spiffy new car and you’re paying thousands of dollars more for it. Pay cash and consider that your discount! The same thing goes for anything you’re tempted to finance—appliances, phones, toys, etc. Use cash for a massive discount.
Let’s start a debt-free revolution against the massive psychological marketing war being waged against us and our kids. Imagine getting your paycheck and it’s all yours. The Joneses will never understand that sense of freedom, unless they see that smile on your face and decide to join us.
Need help on your debt-free journey? Visit us at https://moneycoachgroup.com for your free coaching session! We’d love to guide you down the path to BE. DEBT. FREE!