April 24, 2012

Keeping Up with the Jones

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Gotta keep up with the Jones’.” Whether we openly admit it or not, keeping up with our family, friends and neighbors is something a lot of us try to do from time to time. You know, when your friend posts a picture of the brand new washer and dryer set she just got, it makes you feel a little envious and may lead you to start thinking, “hmm…my washer and dryer are both getting old…wonder if I should just go ahead and get a new set too?”

One of the areas where a lot of people really try to keep up with the people they know is in the clothes they wear. This is especially true for children attending school day after day. There are certain brands and looks that are favored among people today, putting more pressure on us (and our kids) to keep up our wardrobes.

While it’s certainly not bad to set goals and treat ourselves with new things, it can be bad to allow this to consume our every thought. In the overall scheme of things, keeping up with the Jones’ is not important. What’s most important is that our children feel loved, are provided for and the relationships we have with our kids (and other family members). Below, in no particular order, are a few examples of the negative things that can happen when we focus on keeping up with the Jones’ in respect to the things we have.

1.    Financial Stress – It takes money to buy things, especially the “nice” things are friends, family and co-workers are constantly buying. The sad thing is that many people can’t afford to pay for these things outright, so they charge them. You can only charge so much before you get in over your head. Therefore, if you find something you want, save up for it – then enjoy the feeling of satisfaction when you’re able to pay for it in cash! (If you know something expensive is coming up – for example, prom and you know you’ll be needing to buy a prom dress for your daughter, start saving up for it several months in advance so you’ll have the money available when it’s time to buy the perfect dress!)

2.    Bad Relationships – When we focus on the wrong things, like the material things we “need,” it can eventually put a strain on the most important relationships in our lives. There are a lot of parents who have lost that special connection with their kids because they’re so driven to go out and make as much money as they can to buy stuff, that they lose touch with their kids. Their kids begin to turn their focus to the stuff they have and the stuff they must have to feel important, instead of getting to know their parents again. Therefore, try not to let this happen to you and your family. Maintain a healthy balance of focus between the relationship you have with your kids and the “stuff’ you just have to have.

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