10 Reasons It's Completely Useless to Keep Up with the Joneses

Here is why chasing after someone else’s next big thing makes no sense.
Updated May 2, 2024
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It is a natural human instinct to compare ourselves to others, especially when they appear to be better off than we are.

Perhaps your neighbors added a new pool to their backyard or an extra car to their driveway. Maybe your friends post glamorous vacations on social media.

It’s important to remember, however, that not everything is as it seems. Instead of keeping up with the Joneses, here are some reasons to slow down so you avoid wasting money and creating financial trouble down the road.

Spending more lowers your net worth

Harry HU/Adobe american house

Buying a fancy car or a big house might seem like fun, but it’s often not the best use of your cash. Spending money on such things can actually lower your net worth. 

Cars depreciate, for example. And buying a big house creates a large number of ongoing expenses — from mortgage interest to repairs and maintenance, utility bills, tax obligations, and insurance costs.

Spend wisely, and your budget could eventually allow for larger purchases you‘ll truly appreciate.

The Joneses don't really care about you

BGStock72/Adobe couple searching internet on laptop at home

You might think keeping up with the Joneses will keep them interested in you. But the truth is that they likely don’t really care.

The Joneses in your neighborhood or out in the world are probably too fixated on themselves and their problems to really get worked up over your trendy car or designer clothes.

Realizing this can help you focus on your own life — and investing in what you truly want.

The Joneses might be in debt

Shisu_ka/Adobe man holding credit cards in hand with calculator and papers in background

Remember, the Joneses are keeping up with their own “Joneses.” They may have even fallen into debt to maintain their own lifestyle.

It costs money to keep up with all the Joneses in the world. Doing so can quickly put you in the red. So, try to ditch the debt you’re already carrying and move forward with your own financial goals.

Someone is always better off than you

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Someone will always have more money, toys, or homes — yes, multiple homes — than you do.

If you constantly compare yourself to others, you will always come up short. So ignore everyone else and stick with what’s best for you.

It won't actually make you happier

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Money can buy a lot of things, but many rich people have found that happiness isn’t one of them. There are better ways to increase your joy than piling up cash.

To start, figure out what makes you happy. Maybe you secretly want to try an inexpensive hobby that isn’t considered “cool.” Or perhaps you would love to spend more time relaxing at home rather than rushing to keep up with the rat race.

Blaze your own pathway and pursue the things near and dear to your heart.

It's harder to stay true to your values

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Many of us push ourselves to earn money simply so we can fund purchases of material things and expensive vacations.

But is that who you really are? And what do you compromise on to stay on that treadmill?

It can be tough to balance keeping up with others and remaining true to yourself. If you swing too far and compare your worth to others, you might move away from your true self.

It might be better to always keep your values foremost in your heart and head when making financial and life decisions.

It keeps you from pursuing your own goals

NDABCREATIVITY/Adobe beautiful girls looking for direction in the city

We all have money goals. You might want to retire early or travel more. Or maybe your goal is simply to build up an emergency fund.

Don’t lose sight of these goals and compromise what you want to achieve so you can keep up with the Joneses.

Sure, it can be difficult to remain focused when others parade around you with flash. But focusing on your goals will help you achieve them, perhaps sooner than you think.

The competition never ends

WavebreakmediaMicro/Adobe thoughtful man looking out the window

No matter how much you accumulate, there is always going to be the next shiny object or the next big thing. Someone else’s car will top yours, and your vacation is going to be less glamorous than that of the Joneses.

When you compete with no end in sight, you are destined to constantly fail. Instead, set modest goals and don’t change them in an attempt to top others.

True friends won't care

javiindy/Adobe friends having a coffee together

Are you friendly with the Joneses? Great. If they are truly friends, they won’t care about your net worth or big house.

True friends stick with you through thick and thin, regardless of where you buy your shoes or what kind of car you drive. Such friendships are based on who you are, not what you own.

You‘re worth more than your things

Rawpixel.com/Adobe family spending time together

It’s time to remind yourself that you’re more than just a pile of money with a person attached to it.

How you interact with family, friends, and others is far more important than the numbers on an investment statement. Remember that you contribute something to this world that is unique to you, and that has nothing to do with money.

Bottom line

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Before you run off to join the Joneses, sit down and figure out how much money you‘ll have to waste on expensive things and fancy stuff.

How much could you save if you took your own path instead?

If you dream of getting ahead financially, focus on yourself before worrying about the people around you. Pursuing your own interests and goals might be a better path to success.

Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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