Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities

Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby countofmc » Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:50 pm

My wife and I both grew up in a similar socioeconomic background. Through a variety of reasons, we were always the "poor" kids in the wealthy neighborhood or school. "The Janitor's kid" at a private school, if you will. For me, this has been the case pretty much from elementary school all the way through grad school.

As such, our social circle now is full of friends that like to, and can, spend more than us. Some of them just flat out make more money, but even the ones that don't are having their lives partially subsidized by their parents through the purchase of a home, car, whatever.

Adding to this is my wife's side of the family, there are some obnoxious spenders there as well. One relative just purchased a luxury car and will not shut up about it.

There's the constant comment about stuff purchased or vacation taken whenever we meet up with these people. And it's kinda hard to avoid, since we'd have to make all new friends (which may be an option) or stop hanging out with family (not an option).

My wife and I try really hard to adhere to the boglehead formula, and we try to LBOM. But I have to admit it's a bit tough when our social circles act like this and have such attitudes towards spending. Short of ditching our social lives, any suggestions on how to deal with this?
countofmc
 
Posts: 282
Joined: Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:03 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby edge » Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:53 pm

Ya, so get over it. It is just chit chat so chit chat about something else.
edge
 
Posts: 1878
Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2007 7:44 pm
Location: Great Falls VA

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby leonard » Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:55 pm

Ignore them. If you are uncomfortable about what car you drive or house you live in - it has everything to do with you and nothing to do with them.

BTW - how many times can you talk to "friends" about their 2nd new car in as many years or the new IPhone27 before you die of boredom?
Leonard | | Market Timing: Do you seriously think you can predict the future? What else do the voices tell you? | | If employees weren't taking jobs with bad 401k's, bad 401k's wouldn't exist.
leonard
 
Posts: 4380
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2007 11:56 am

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby countofmc » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:00 pm

leonard wrote:Ignore them. If you are uncomfortable about what car you drive or house you live in - it has everything to do with you and nothing to do with them.

BTW - how many times can you talk to "friends" about their 2nd new car in as many years or the new IPhone27 before you die of boredom?


Well the friends are a bit easier to ignore. The family is not, and seriously the materialism and one upmanship of that side of the family is ridiculous.
countofmc
 
Posts: 282
Joined: Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:03 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby Wagnerjb » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:01 pm

It will turn around when you and your wife retire early and those friends and relatives are whining about having to work until they are 70 years old. Actually, they will probably get sick of hearing you both brag about your fancy new retirement home and your travel abroad, the freedom from the daily grind, the ability to visit grandchildren often, etc.

I have been a Boglehead type since stepping out of college and having been LBOM the entire time (the past 35 years). I have hit "my number" and am planning on retiring in the next year or two. When my colleagues look at me with jealousy and whine about having to work until age 70, I smile a huge smile inside (I certainly don't show outward pleasure at their situation, but I pat myself on the back for those many years of sacrifices that I chose to make in order to LBOM).

Best wishes.
Andy
Wagnerjb
 
Posts: 6036
Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2007 8:44 pm
Location: Houston, Texas

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby stevewolfe » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:03 pm

You probably only need to ask "Was there something wrong with the old (car | computer | house | <insert object here> that you got rid of it?" so many times before they will sense the (perceived) "veiled hostility" and stop talking to YOU about that stuff ;) Make it their decision (make them own it so to speak). :twisted:
User avatar
stevewolfe
 
Posts: 1319
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 7:07 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby Taylor Larimore » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:04 pm

countofmc:
My wife and I try really hard to adhere to the boglehead formula, and we try to LBOM. But I have to admit it's a bit tough when our social circles act like this and have such attitudes towards spending. Short of ditching our social lives, any suggestions on how to deal with this?

From an earlier post:
At age 89, I have traveled a long road and observed a few things:

In general, there are two kinds of people:

"Outer-directed" who spend their lives trying to impress others.
"Inner-directed" who achieve peace of mind.

There will always be people with more then we have, and many people with less. Try to accept that fact and focus on being comfortable with who you are.

Best wishes.
Taylor
"Simplicity is the master key to financial success." -- Jack Bogle
User avatar
Taylor Larimore
Advisory Board
 
Posts: 20237
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 8:09 pm
Location: Miami FL

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby countofmc » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:07 pm

Wagnerjb wrote:It will turn around when you and your wife retire early and those friends and relatives are whining about having to work until they are 70 years old. Actually, they will probably get sick of hearing you both brag about your fancy new retirement home and your travel abroad, the freedom from the daily grind, the ability to visit grandchildren often, etc.

I have been a Boglehead type since stepping out of college and having been LBOM the entire time (the past 35 years). I have hit "my number" and am planning on retiring in the next year or two. When my colleagues look at me with jealousy and whine about having to work until age 70, I smile a huge smile inside (I certainly don't show outward pleasure at their situation, but I pat myself on the back for those many years of sacrifices that I chose to make in order to LBOM).

Best wishes.


Thanks Andy. To be honest, it's not even about wanting it to "turn around". I know what I want out of life, and it's exactly what you describe. I want to be retired or have the flexibility and financial freedom to work at something I truly enjoy at a relatively younger age. At the same time I don't judge people like my friends and relatives who like to spend, to be truthful some of them probably have enough family wealth to spend all they want and still retire faster than I do!

Although I know I need to stop comparing myself to others, and generally I'm pretty good about that, it's kinda hard when everytime I meet up with friends or family it's some talk about the latest thing they bought, and I often catch myself thinking, "man, maybe I should just get that new Lexus".
countofmc
 
Posts: 282
Joined: Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:03 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby countofmc » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:09 pm

Taylor Larimore wrote:countofmc:
My wife and I try really hard to adhere to the boglehead formula, and we try to LBOM. But I have to admit it's a bit tough when our social circles act like this and have such attitudes towards spending. Short of ditching our social lives, any suggestions on how to deal with this?

From an earlier post:
At age 89, I have traveled a long road and observed a few things:

In general, there are two kinds of people:

"Outer-directed" who spend their lives trying to impress others.
"Inner-directed" who achieve peace of mind.

There will always be people with more then we have, and many people with less. Try to accept that fact and focus on being comfortable with who you are.

Best wishes.
Taylor


Thanks Taylor. Peace of mind is the ultimate goal and something I struggle for daily.
countofmc
 
Posts: 282
Joined: Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:03 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby jwa » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:13 pm

Start by reading "The Millionaire Next Door." You will find through the research of two university professors what the lifestyle issues you describe are really all about. The millionaire next door does not lead the lifestyle you describe and the authors even address the issue of parents subsidizing the lifestyle of grown married adult children. (never could figure out why in the English language adult offspring are still referred to as children.)

As they say in Texas, "big hat and no cattle."
jwa
 
Posts: 181
Joined: Sat Aug 04, 2012 3:53 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby chaz » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:20 pm

Just do your own thing.
Chaz | | “Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons." Woody Allen | | http://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
chaz
 
Posts: 13315
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 2:44 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby leonard » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:23 pm

countofmc wrote:
leonard wrote:Ignore them. If you are uncomfortable about what car you drive or house you live in - it has everything to do with you and nothing to do with them.

BTW - how many times can you talk to "friends" about their 2nd new car in as many years or the new IPhone27 before you die of boredom?


Well the friends are a bit easier to ignore. The family is not, and seriously the materialism and one upmanship of that side of the family is ridiculous.


But, again, why do you care? That's the question.

As for them, ignore and otherwise avoid them. Or, if for some reason you must talk to them, steer the conversation toward achievements that take something other than money - athletic accomplishment, hobby's, etc. Contrasting materialism against something worth spending time on may be a start.

Leonard
Leonard | | Market Timing: Do you seriously think you can predict the future? What else do the voices tell you? | | If employees weren't taking jobs with bad 401k's, bad 401k's wouldn't exist.
leonard
 
Posts: 4380
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2007 11:56 am

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby JDaniels » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:24 pm

jwa wrote:Start by reading "The Millionaire Next Door." You will find through the research of two university professors what the lifestyle issues you describe are really all about. The millionaire next door does not lead the lifestyle you describe and the authors even address the issue of parents subsidizing the lifestyle of grown married adult children. (never could figure out why in the English language adult offspring are still referred to as children.)

As they say in Texas, "big hat and no cattle."


+1 I'm reading this book again and I highly recommend it.

Thanks,
Jim
"The poor long for riches. The rich long for heaven. But the wise desire tranquility."
User avatar
JDaniels
 
Posts: 204
Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 7:30 pm
Location: Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby Fallible » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:38 pm

countofmc wrote:[...
Although I know I need to stop comparing myself to others, and generally I'm pretty good about that, it's kinda hard when everytime I meet up with friends or family it's some talk about the latest thing they bought, and I often catch myself thinking, "man, maybe I should just get that new Lexus".


Before you buy that new Lexus, consider: You just said it's worth spending some $40,000 to be able to tell your friends the latest thing you just bought. Forty-thousand bucks to say, "I just bought a new Lexus." Forty-thousand smackeroos to be just like people you're not even certain you admire because they talk about the latest thing they just bought. Forty-thousand just because it's "kinda hard" to listen to them, meaning I guess that it's not hard to spend $40,000 on something you wouldn't buy if your friends didn't talk about what they buy?
"Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing." -William James
Fallible
 
Posts: 4002
Joined: Fri Nov 27, 2009 4:44 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby Calm Man » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:39 pm

OP, speaking from experience, this is not a financial issue. It is a "psychological" one and if it really bothers you a therapist will help. There will always be people with more than you and those with less. Frankly if you had more means when young and in the same situation you are in now, you would probably be more troubled. So I am trying to discount in your mind the relative lack of funds as a kid. It certainly didn't keep you from going to college or moving forward in life and believe me that there are plenty of people who had a lot less than you. I believe personally that a person is most successful when he/she does not rate their happiness or success compared to others. If somebody has a better or worse car than you, it should not have an iota of an effect on you. Maybe it takes somebody hard-nosed to feel that way and if so, I am guilty. But I don't give a hoot what anybody else has.
Calm Man
 
Posts: 2855
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:35 am

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby YttriumNitrate » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:40 pm

Well, the mature thing to do would be to just ignore them.

However, if you must keep up with the Joneses, think about getting things go up in value or at least don't depreciate like crazy. Raw land and older sail boats come to mind. That way, when your relative starts talking about their fancy new car (which they are probably leasing :oops:), you can respond by talking about your weekend at the country estate, or the cruise your took with the the fellas at the yacht club.

Ignoring them is the mature thing to do.
User avatar
YttriumNitrate
 
Posts: 724
Joined: Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:13 pm
Location: Midwest

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby windaar » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:44 pm

There's the constant comment about stuff purchased or vacation taken whenever we meet up with these people.


Funny. The one thing in common with the really wealthy people I know is that they never talk about their wealth.
windaar
 
Posts: 103
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:31 am

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby enderland » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:52 pm

Maybe I'm a terrible person, but every time I see my peers, family, or friends act (or boast) similarly, I get a sense of pity.

They will never experience the freedom I have even currently and will continue to feel more and more as my net worth increases.
enderland
 
Posts: 194
Joined: Sat Mar 23, 2013 11:36 am

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby MoonOrb » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:05 pm

Hi

Maybe you could start by asking yourself why it is so hard for you to listen to your friends and in-laws talk about the choices they make? Their choices are, well, their choices. And aside from being there and listening to talk about these things, is there harm to you other than being annoyed? Are they making snide comments about your own choices?

So, here are some strategies that might help you make it through this a little bit more. Maybe some will be of value and some won't, who knows.

(1) Minimize your time with these friends/family and make efforts to spend time with people who better share the same values you do. You don't have to cut these people out of your life completely, but it sounds like you don't enjoy spending time with them. It's common for friendships to wax and wane as people make different choices in their lives and go on different paths.

(2) Remind yourself that even if you can't stop these folks from bragging about the new car (or whatever) they got, you and only you are in charge of how you respond to what they say. You're doing a great thing by living below your means and taking charge of your financial security! You don't have to give them this power over you to feel inferior to them. So make a conscious effort to not let it get to you (yes, this is hard).

(3) Remember that people are complex and are capable of being wonderful, lovable friends in most instances while also capable of behavior that we don't like at all. There is no rule that says you have to love every single thing about your friends and family. But you can choose to focus on the things you do love about them rather than fixate on the things you don't.

(4) In the same vein, are there times when they are truly excited about the things they spend their money on? You can share their enthusiasm and appreciate that they're happy even if you realize it's not a choice you'd make, and maybe a choice they'll regret later possibly. But if there are sometimes when they're not just being an obnoxious braggart but are actually wanting to share this cool new thing they got or talk about this fabulous vacation they went on, why not let them enjoy their moment?

(5) Avoid talking about money and spending and consumerism with them and seize opportunities to steer conversation to topics that don't grate on your nerves. There are diplomatic ways to do this that don't make it obvious you're super-annoyed with your conversation partners.

Hey, look. What you're doing takes a lot of discipline. Remember that and be proud of it and hold onto it at times when you're frustrated. But there's no point being bitter and unhappy about it. Your friends and family will be oblivious to this and won't understand it, and then you'll just be miserable for no reason. So do your best to love your friends and family in spite of this annoying flaw, but above all, stay the course.
Last edited by MoonOrb on Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
MoonOrb
 
Posts: 508
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2013 6:58 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby frugaltype » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:16 pm

People who spend a lot of time boasting about the money they spend or engaging in conspicuous consumption strike me as people who have no taste or sense. So, they are not interesting to me.

Then again, I come from New England, where old money wears its clothes until they pretty much fall apart.
User avatar
frugaltype
 
Posts: 1952
Joined: Wed Apr 24, 2013 9:07 am

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby swaption » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:26 pm

Just be happy for them. A friend just got a nice new car. They are enthusiastic about. Why is that a problem? Will it be a problem when their kids do well in sports or go to an Ivy League school? This is life. Sure at time the talk can be excessive. But might be more your problem than theirs.
swaption
 
Posts: 976
Joined: Tue Jul 29, 2008 11:48 am

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby John3754 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:04 pm

I have friends like this, when they talk about their sports cars and multimillion dollar houses I talk about my impending early retirement. Then we move on with our lives. I have no interest in spending money like they do, and they have no interest in saving money like I do, and that's that.
John3754
 
Posts: 849
Joined: Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:56 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby Cunobelinus » Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:35 pm

"I am not them." That's how I deal with it. It seems like more of a psychological thing that you're going to have to deal with.

I didn't grow up with much. Life was more about the experiences than the material things. A vacation was going camping up in the mountains, not spending time in the Bahamas.

When my friends with money do crazy expensive things, I can be happy for them though and it doesn't make me feel inadequate. When I see people my age (28) driving a $50-70k car, I'm baffled at the apparent lack of fiscal responsibility. My wife is quick to point out that we could comfortably* buy that Porsche/Range Rover/whatever, so it isn't that unreasonable that someone else our age could.. but I'm still taken aback at the idea of spending that much money. We don't really have an interest in having those sorts of things. Doesn't mean it's not fun to go out with people who do partake in fast cars, boats, or ski lodges though 8-)

*she's more comfortable spending our money than I am.. spending 10-20% of my savings on a "thing" doesn't appeal to me.
Cunobelinus
 
Posts: 37
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2012 5:31 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby Calm Man » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:00 pm

windaar wrote:
There's the constant comment about stuff purchased or vacation taken whenever we meet up with these people.


Funny. The one thing in common with the really wealthy people I know is that they never talk about their wealth.


Windaar,
This is so true. I am trying to educate my 26 year old daughter on these things. I ask her occasionally: does your father ever talk about the amount of money he has or give anybody a clue? Answer: no. My answer: that's the way to do it. Those who talk are either fools, braggarts or liars.
Calm Man
 
Posts: 2855
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:35 am

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby SnapShots » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:08 pm

From an earlier post:
At age 89, I have traveled a long road and observed a few things:

In general, there are two kinds of people:

"Outer-directed" who spend their lives trying to impress others.
"Inner-directed" who achieve peace of mind.

There will always be people with more then we have, and many people with less. Try to accept that fact and focus on being comfortable with who you are.

Best wishes.
Taylor[/quote]

+1 OP good for you for saying it OUT LOUD. Sayin' it keeps you on track. Keep on doin' what your doin'. Climbing the ladder is ... Oh so NOT!!!! so fun. Listen to Taylor...
the best decision many times is the hardest to do
User avatar
SnapShots
 
Posts: 907
Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 12:39 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby prudent » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:45 pm

It was probably a failing on my part (lack of tolerance, whatever), but after many years I decided to cut ties with two long-time friends who were conspicuous consumers and l-o-v-e-d to talk about whatever their latest purchase was, how they found it, where they went on vacation, and what everything cost, etc. etc. Over time we just did not have enough in common to continue a healthy friendship. I knew the rest of their social circle were also big spenders.

Neither my family nor my inlaws talk much about money or flaunt it, so I had a terrible time trying to relate.

Maybe you know the type... after they blather on about some new gizmo or bauble they bought, they might catch themselves and say, "But enough about me... how do YOU like my new suit?" Conversation right back to them again!
User avatar
prudent
 
Posts: 1278
Joined: Fri May 20, 2011 2:50 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby joe8d » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:04 pm

Bogleheads DON"T " Keep up with the Joneses ".
All the Best, | Joe
User avatar
joe8d
 
Posts: 3523
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 8:27 pm
Location: Buffalo,NY

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby DTSC » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:16 pm

Realize that when you see someone driving around in a $60,000 car, the reality is that they definitely are missing $60,000 from their bank account. Or worse yet, they're $60,000 in the red...
DTSC
 
Posts: 876
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 9:47 am
Location: Illinois

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby englishgirl » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:18 pm

There's two aspects, I suppose.

One is having to listen to them. I usually just say banal things like "oh wow, lucky you", and "that's great", and "awesome! Well done!" People actually seem to get bored of that pretty quickly, or maybe just having someone repeat to them that it really is great makes them feel like they've been validated and they shut up.

The other is whether you feel jealousy or not. I guess you do, otherwise it wouldn't bother you. This is where perhaps having the experience of nicer things helps me I think. I did have a fancy car in my late 20's/early 30's. And you know what? I wasn't any happier. I mean, sure the car was nice. Really, it was. Lovely car. That moment of shutting the car door with a satisfying clunk never got boring. But how much of my day did shutting the car door involve? A tiny amount. The rest of the time I was still the same person, still working long hours at a job I didn't enjoy to pay for it. It just wasn't worth it. I think once you sit down and think about what would really make you happy in life, and what is really worth it, expensive things just don't have the same pull any more.
Sarah
User avatar
englishgirl
 
Posts: 2135
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 5:34 pm
Location: FL

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby danwhite77 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:24 pm

In conversation, ask them if they have ever heard the term "hedonic treadmill" before. Because whether they know it or not, they're running on it.

Wikipedia:

The hedonic treadmill, also known as hedonic adaptation, is the tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.[1] According to this theory, as a person makes more money, expectations and desires rise in tandem, which results in no permanent gain in happiness. Brickman and Campbell coined the term in their essay "Hedonic Relativism and Planning the Good Society" (1971).[2] During the late 1990s, the concept was modified by Michael Eysenck, a British psychologist, to become the current "hedonic treadmill theory" which compares the pursuit of happiness to a person on a treadmill, who has to keep working just to stay in the same place.
"While some mutual fund founders chose to make billions, he chose to make a difference." - Dedication to Jack Bogle in 'The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing'.
User avatar
danwhite77
 
Posts: 308
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:21 am

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby TRC » Thu Jul 25, 2013 6:38 am

swaption wrote:Just be happy for them. A friend just got a nice new car. They are enthusiastic about. Why is that a problem? Will it be a problem when their kids do well in sports or go to an Ivy League school? This is life. Sure at time the talk can be excessive. But might be more your problem than theirs.


+1. People value different things. To each their own.
TRC
 
Posts: 1364
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:38 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby Phillies2008 » Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:00 am

Bragging is the sincerest form of flattery.
Phillies2008
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:44 am

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby VictoriaF » Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:04 am

Emotion is more powerful than logic. Buy something superfluous, regret it for the rest of your life, don't do it again, feel superior to the Joneses who never learn.

Victoria
Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)
User avatar
VictoriaF
 
Posts: 12643
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby Rupert » Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:56 am

I find that most people who brag about their possessions/assets are really very insecure. In my experience, folks who can really afford such luxury items, i.e., don't have to "reach" for them, don't feel a need to brag about them. So that guy bragging about the new Lexus? He just dropped $40,000 to $60,000 on a depreciating asset that he really can't afford and probably, somewhere deep down inside himself, knows that wasn't the most brilliant move he's ever made. Usually, I just shrug such bragging off and say something like, "That's great, Bill. Hope you enjoy it." But sometimes, when I'm feeling nasty or if the guy is really a superficial jerk, I'll say something like, "I don't believe it's a very good idea to drop that sort of money on a depreciating asset. I'd rather spend money on life experiences and save for retirement," which fuels their insecurity. :twisted:
Rupert
 
Posts: 528
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:01 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby pochax » Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:01 am

maybe you can keep an open mind and delve into how they made their decision/choice/expediture. Perhaps you will: 1) learn something that you did not know before that may help you save money on these nice expenditures or enhance your return on invements, or 2) learn they are outspending their income and making bad decisions for themselves, or 3) learn they make (or receive from family) WAY more $$$ than you and just accept that. It is most likely one of those 3 situations. take what you can from each situation and (as Taylor said) cultivate peace of mind for yourselves.
pochax
 
Posts: 1008
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:40 am

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby MrMiyagi » Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:05 am

I will play devil's advocate.

While it is silly to talk about the new car purchase you made, I would be careful not to deprive yourself too much. It can get to the point where people just feel socially awkward around you. What I mean is, if you are super frugal that you deprive yourself or limit social activities, it can become annoying for your friends to even invite you to anything. Sometimes it's ok to spend a lot of money on a "frivilous" but fun experience, pay more for convenience, etc... If you're constantly penny pinching, it can be annoying to your social circle too (just as annoying as them bragging about their 2nd cars).
MrMiyagi
 
Posts: 345
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 3:28 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby Random Poster » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:09 am

Rupert wrote:I find that most people who brag about their possessions/assets are really very insecure.


Hey now, you are posting that on a website where people routinely write about hitting financial and net worth milestones...

Rupert wrote:But sometimes, when I'm feeling nasty or if the guy is really a superficial jerk, I'll say something like, "I don't believe it's a very good idea to drop that sort of money on a depreciating asset. I'd rather spend money on life experiences and save for retirement," which fuels their insecurity. :twisted:


Ummm...perhaps, by purchasing the car, someone is spending money on life experiences? :confused
Random Poster
 
Posts: 1055
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:17 am

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby Abe » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:31 am

Taylor Larimore wrote:countofmc:
My wife and I try really hard to adhere to the boglehead formula, and we try to LBOM. But I have to admit it's a bit tough when our social circles act like this and have such attitudes towards spending. Short of ditching our social lives, any suggestions on how to deal with this?

From an earlier post:
At age 89, I have traveled a long road and observed a few things:

In general, there are two kinds of people:

"Outer-directed" who spend their lives trying to impress others.
"Inner-directed" who achieve peace of mind.

There will always be people with more then we have, and many people with less. Try to accept that fact and focus on being comfortable with who you are.

Best wishes.
Taylor

This is very good advise from Taylor. It's not always easy to be different because we all have a tendency to want to fit in. I had a friend who had to keep up with the Joneses. He made sure that I was invited to the social functions of his social circle. They were always trying to outdo each other. There was a lot of jealousy and envy which was all petty and boring to me. I think most of them looked down on me because I had a smaller house, a less expensive car, didn't take expensive vacations three times a year and all that. Now they are just jealous. The thing is, they will never be happy because as Taylor says, there will always be people with more than we have. The secret is not to compete with others but compete with yourself. Set higher goals as you go along, and one day you'll look around and notice that you have passed most of the "keep up with the Joneses" types.
Slow and steady wins the race.
User avatar
Abe
 
Posts: 798
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:24 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby Rupert » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:36 am

Random Poster wrote:
Rupert wrote:I find that most people who brag about their possessions/assets are really very insecure.


Hey now, you are posting that on a website where people routinely write about hitting financial and net worth milestones...

Rupert wrote:But sometimes, when I'm feeling nasty or if the guy is really a superficial jerk, I'll say something like, "I don't believe it's a very good idea to drop that sort of money on a depreciating asset. I'd rather spend money on life experiences and save for retirement," which fuels their insecurity. :twisted:


Ummm...perhaps, by purchasing the car, someone is spending money on life experiences? :confused


I think discussing one's financial achievements in a forum where such discussion is . . . well . . . the point and where one knows the audience is receptive to such discussion is quite different from doing so at a cocktail party or a family reunion or a kid's ballgame or whatever. Context matters.

As for the car, one person's life experience is another person's ball and chain I guess. To each his own. But the OP seemed to be looking for a way to extricate himself (or at least make himself feel better) about such conversations. I simply made a suggestion.
Rupert
 
Posts: 528
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:01 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby MichDad » Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:29 am

I boast about the fact that my family has owned only one car -- a compact car that we purchased new for cash 18 years ago. I hope to increase the intensity of that boast each year for at least the next ten years.
MichDad
 
Posts: 196
Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2013 3:50 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby Wagnerjb » Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:39 am

Rupert wrote:I think discussing one's financial achievements in a forum where such discussion is . . . well . . . the point and where one knows the audience is receptive to such discussion is quite different from doing so at a cocktail party or a family reunion or a kid's ballgame or whatever. Context matters.


In my opinion, people can discuss the how at this forum without bragging about the how much. Most strategies for saving and investing are identical whether you earn $30,000 or $300,000. Live below your means, invest passively, be tax efficient, keep a focus on costs.

You can sometimes tell the people with more substantial nest eggs by the nature of their questions, whether they be around college funding or specific tax issues or estate planning. But I rarely see those people brag how much they have in assets or income....and I respect those people (and am more willing to help them) than the guy who brags about his million dollar home and his country club membership and his Mercedes.

Best wishes.
Andy
Wagnerjb
 
Posts: 6036
Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2007 8:44 pm
Location: Houston, Texas

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby NightOwl » Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:59 am

danwhite77 wrote:In conversation, ask them if they have ever heard the term "hedonic treadmill" before. Because whether they know it or not, they're running on it.

Wikipedia:

The hedonic treadmill, also known as hedonic adaptation, is the tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.[1] According to this theory, as a person makes more money, expectations and desires rise in tandem, which results in no permanent gain in happiness. Brickman and Campbell coined the term in their essay "Hedonic Relativism and Planning the Good Society" (1971).[2] During the late 1990s, the concept was modified by Michael Eysenck, a British psychologist, to become the current "hedonic treadmill theory" which compares the pursuit of happiness to a person on a treadmill, who has to keep working just to stay in the same place.

Oddly, the biggest "hedonic treadmill" I seem to be on is that it drives me crazy to save less money in a given year than I have in any previous year.

I don't worry about keeping up with the Joneses vis a vis material possessions, because I don't covet most of those things (e.g., I hope to go my whole life without owning a car) -- but I know for sure that very few Joneses are keeping up with me when it comes to saving money. Maybe OP should just reframe the comparison?

NightOwl
"Volatility provokes the constant dread that some investors know more than we do, making us fearful of ignoring such powerful price movements." | Peter Bernstein, "The 60/40 Solution."
User avatar
NightOwl
 
Posts: 637
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2009 2:08 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby Caduceus » Thu Jul 25, 2013 2:41 pm

What precisely is so tough about listening to them go on about their new purchases? Is it because of boredom (i.e. the conversation is superficial and uninteresting), social envy (i.e. you don't want them to get the idea that you're not doing as well as they are / cannot afford the same things they do), or product envy (you actually want that new Lexus and are jealous that they got it but you don't?), or something else?? I ask because perhaps locating the emotional cause of why your friends/relatives bother you so much may help you become happier in these interactions.

I have a cousin who's always going on about how expensive her most recent purchase was, but as we are not close, I usually just listen and let her go on. On the other hand, I have a good friend who's quite a spender (new cars, new house, etc.), and here the dynamic is a bit different because I make a little more effort to be happy for them and to see it through their eyes. I actually don't think it's that healthy to think about it in terms of how you'll "win" in the end because you're saving and they are not and therefore you'll retire early and then you'll get the last laugh. It seems that if these are close friends and family, then the relationship is really what matters; and if they're not close, then why should their opinion matter at all? I would try to be happy for them (no matter what you think their motivations are).
Caduceus
 
Posts: 536
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:47 am

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby meowcat » Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:59 pm

Why bother keeping up with the Jones's? Chances are, the Jones's are broke!
More people should learn to tell their dollars where to go instead of asking them where they went. | -Roger Babson
User avatar
meowcat
 
Posts: 219
Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 5:46 am

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby JoMoney » Thu Jul 25, 2013 4:20 pm

countofmc wrote:As such, our social circle now is full of friends that like to, and can, spend more than us. Some of them just flat out make more money, but even the ones that don't are having their lives partially subsidized by their parents through the purchase of a home, car, whatever.
...
Short of ditching our social lives, any suggestions on how to deal with this?


My social circle is full of folk's that aren't particularly affluent, but spend beyond there means. They then proceed to arrogantly complain about people who've diligently spent less and saved, and thereby amassed some wealth. One in particular has filed bankruptcy multiple times and complains because their elderly parents (who are trying to diligently make their savings last) could afford to help him out. What saddens and angers me is this person will eventually inherit the remains of their savings and spend through it quickly (possibly even having spent it before hand, and owe it to creditors).

I'm thankful that I've somehow grown to have a dis-taste for opulence, flash, and waste. I get jealous when I hear about someone finding a way to spend less on something. My only suggestion would be to use the Internet, stay connected to like-minded savers.
"To achieve satisfactory investment results is easier than most people realize; to achieve superior results is harder than it looks." - Benjamin Graham
User avatar
JoMoney
 
Posts: 1674
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:31 am

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby BrandonBogle » Thu Jul 25, 2013 4:24 pm

englishgirl wrote:There's two aspects, I suppose.

One is having to listen to them. I usually just say banal things like "oh wow, lucky you", and "that's great", and "awesome! Well done!" People actually seem to get bored of that pretty quickly, or maybe just having someone repeat to them that it really is great makes them feel like they've been validated and they shut up.

The other is whether you feel jealousy or not. I guess you do, otherwise it wouldn't bother you. This is where perhaps having the experience of nicer things helps me I think. I did have a fancy car in my late 20's/early 30's. And you know what? I wasn't any happier. I mean, sure the car was nice. Really, it was. Lovely car. That moment of shutting the car door with a satisfying clunk never got boring. But how much of my day did shutting the car door involve? A tiny amount. The rest of the time I was still the same person, still working long hours at a job I didn't enjoy to pay for it. It just wasn't worth it. I think once you sit down and think about what would really make you happy in life, and what is really worth it, expensive things just don't have the same pull any more.


One of the worst and best decisions was to take over the payments of a VW EOS from my mom. She bought it without thinking it through and she wanted something smaller and more sedate. For two years, I had two cars. Growing up poor, where we had to get help and there were days where we had no meals, it felt amazing to reach "the middle class" and comfort. I loved driving the car (my other one is a 4Runner).

Aafter about a year, I seriously felt how the payments were taking their told on my finances and I actually had to dip into my savings to max out my IRA. At first I hemmed and hawed about how fun it was to drive and the increased gas mileage I got on it, but ultimaetely, at 18 months I decided it needed to go. I waited till the summer season to say "goodbye" so I could also get top dollar for it (it snows where I am - convertibles wouldn't exact sell well in the winter!). I sold it just this past May.

I miss the car and for the first few weeks, looked at other "fun to drive", but more affordable cars. But as the next few weeks went buy, I realized how I wasn't strugglnig anymore to live below my means. I got to step back and REALLY enjoy moving up from my childhood socioeconomic status. Had I not "wasted" two years on that car (and $6k), I would always have that itch of social creep. For now, I get to sit back and enjoy seeing my projects show that I can retire early!
User avatar
BrandonBogle
 
Posts: 1251
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:19 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby BrandonBogle » Thu Jul 25, 2013 4:25 pm

VictoriaF wrote:Emotion is more powerful than logic. Buy something superfluous, regret it for the rest of your life, don't do it again, feel superior to the Joneses who never learn.

Victoria


Exactly!!!
User avatar
BrandonBogle
 
Posts: 1251
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:19 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby sesq » Thu Jul 25, 2013 4:59 pm

countofmc wrote:There's the constant comment about stuff purchased or vacation taken whenever we meet up with these people


Start churning reward credit cards and travel on points, perhaps even in the front of the plane. I actually find this to be a two-fer since scoring each sign up bonus is kind of like shopping to me. But it doesn't clutter my house and later my wife and kids get to go somewhere. Credit score is temporarily mildly impacted, but otherwise low/no cash out.

I get a similar buzz over-analyzing my net worth. But that one I can't discuss with the Jones much.
sesq
 
Posts: 265
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:24 am

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby Dianne » Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:15 pm

You have received a lot of great advice here, and I hope you try it out. I have one thing to add: Is there a Bogleheads chapter near you? You might be able to find one at:

viewforum.php?f=9

If you start attending local Bogleheads meetings, I guarantee the conversation will be very different from what you are enduring now. You might make some new friends, too.
Dianne
 
Posts: 115
Joined: Mon Nov 16, 2009 4:35 pm

Re: Really hard to avoid "Keeping up with the Joneses"!

Postby Gnirk » Thu Jul 25, 2013 6:56 pm

JoMoney wrote: complains because their elderly parents (who are trying to diligently make their savings last) could afford to help him out. What saddens and angers me is this person will eventually inherit the remains of their savings and spend through it quickly (possibly even having spent it before hand, and owe it to creditors).



Sounds like my stepdaughter. However, my DH just changed his will so that when he passes, her inheritance will go directly into a trust, where she receives only the interest and dividends, and cannot touch any capital gains or the corpus of the trust. At least this way the Casinos won't get the majority of her inheritance, and the grandchildren will inherit something some day.
Gnirk
 
Posts: 357
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 3:11 am
Location: Western Washington

Next

Return to Personal Consumer Issues

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: a2z, bgaspard, Bungo, FAST Enterprise [Crawler], IlliniGuy, madbrain, noyopacific, snowwing, snyder66, Taylor Larimore, texasdiver, wymby, Yahoo [Bot] and 75 guests