Money can be a taboo subject to bring up with family or friends, but even more so if you feel like you hold the short end of the stick. It can be easy to become consumed with jealousy about their money. However, things are not always as they seem on the outside. Perhaps, the grass isn’t greener where there’s more money.
Here are reminders and strategies to combat financial comparison over possessions and lifestyles.
Keeping up with the Joneses
This FOMO (fear of missing out) mindset is not exclusive to Millennials or Gen Z, because keeping up with your neighbors has been around in the United States since the suburban boom started.
In 2019, 48 percent of Millennials said that they’ve gone into debt while trying to keep up with their friends lifestyles, which was up from 39 percent the previous year. Rising social pressures contribute to overspending on food, drinks, and events—with FOMO cited as the number one reason for overspending on food and travel.
Overspending by adopting other’s habits could be holding you back from spending on essentials in your own life, and taking care of yourself.
Common items and lifestyles people envy
Even the latest and greatest technology is bound to malfunction. Plus, there is a greater risk of it becoming damaged, lost, or stolen—meaning the insurance on those items is high.
Clothes and jewelry
The most frequent credit card expenses in the US are on retail items like clothes and jewelry. A closet with more clothing doesn’t mean they’re paid for yet, or that they are even good quality clothing. Less can be more. Learn more about choosing sustainable, high quality clothing by reading this blog.
Fun, high-end cars look nice, but the insurance and maintenance, not so much. Most cool-looking and expensive cars don’t perform well in extreme weather, like snow or rain, since they’re meant primarily for fun. If your car gets you around well, that’s all you need.
Someone with a high-paying career likely works long hours and worked hard to get where they are. Use this as motivation to evaluate your career. Ask yourself, “Do I want to change careers, or should I work harder for a raise where I am? What can I do to move upward in my career?” Pinpoint what exactly you envy about someone else’s job. Whether you want the hours, ability to travel, or a higher salary, write that reason down and work toward it.
The point of a vacation is to get away. You don’t need to travel to fancy places. Save up for a fun once-in-a-lifetime trip, and make the best of it! In the meantime, you can play tourist in your area for a weekend, visit interesting free museums, and take day trips to reduce costs.
Are your friends posting again about their weekend adventure? Try cooking something new at home and inviting friends over. It’s not always about the expensive food, but rather the experience with the ones you love.
Advice from a financial therapist
Financial therapy is a relatively new, budding occupation that deals solely with helping clients maintain a healthy relationship with money. Here’s what some top financial therapists are saying on the subject of money envy.
Acknowledge your feelings
The first step to improving your mindset about money is to acknowledge your feelings. These feelings are not entirely negative by themselves, and most financial experts agree a little jealousy can be motivating—but only if you pinpoint the source of envy.
Know that everyone is on a unique journey
Recognize that your life is beautifully unique. Even though someone might make more than you right now, try and look at the achievements you’ve made, too. They might have more money, but you might have had more growth with your relationships and happiness in your career choice. Little moments of personal growth have put you in a position for success unique to you. Your time will come, but in the meantime, focus on what you’ve accomplished.
Talk about it
“Those who mind don’t matter. Those who matter don’t mind.” This might sound a bit harsh, but here is what it means in this situation: if you express that you cannot afford something or that you want to forego an experience, someone who truly loves and supports you will accept that. If they react negatively, evaluate the situation, and maybe take a step back from that person. Stand up for yourself, because when you feel empowered, you are taking charge of your emotional and financial health. That feeling of ownership over your finances is one giant step toward financial freedom.
Strategies to stop envy
Log off social media
One of the biggest, if not the biggest, source of envy is social media. Social media is good for connecting with loved ones, but don’t allow it to ruin your happiness. Try to limit the time you spend on your social media every day. Most smartphones now have an option to set app time limits, and once you reach it, it can lock the app for the rest of the day. Evaluate who you follow and how they make you feel. Do they make you laugh and smile, or do they make you feel sad and jealous? Unfollowing those who don’t make your social media timelines enjoyable can be an easy way to liberate yourself from those feelings.
Spend time, not money
The amount of money spent is not parallel to the amount of experienced happiness. Quality time, however, is proven to bring feelings of joy and closeness to others. Inviting someone on a walk or getting a cup of coffee can be loads more satisfying than worrying about how much you’re spending during an activity.
Talk about it
Let your friends and family know, in as much detail as you’re comfortable with, why you’d prefer to partake in activities that are free or inexpensive. Having an open, honest discussion can be very cathartic, and you might find out your loved ones are in the same position! Nothing is as it seems from the outside.
Remember that money is just that—currency. It can be a way for our society to run smoothly, but it’s not supposed to dictate your emotions. Use this newfound mindset and strategies to start living a healthy life with your finances today. Talk to a trusted financial advisor about how you can start saving and putting your hard-earned money to work for you.