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Peruse through personal finance websites and you will inevitably come across the term, “Keeping Up With The Joneses.”
The Joneses, in case you are unaware, are the vilified family of the personal finance community.
The Joneses have been the measuring stick for success in society.
The Joneses are the scapegoat for the plight of everyday consumers, who find themselves digging further into debt trying to keep up with them.
The Joneses are to blame for lifestyle inflation.
The Joneses are responsible for the social media trend of “Doin’ It For the Gram.”
The Joneses are ubiquitous.
Every neighborhood has one and it is easy to pick them out.
The Joneses have the nicest house and cars on the block.
The Joneses send their kids to private school.
It then dawned on me….
Wait a minute, I check pretty much every box on The Joneses checklist:
- Nicest house:
- I think my property qualifies as one of the nicest ones not only in my immediate neighborhood but potentially in a 30 mile radius.
- Stable of fancy cars:
- I certainly own the most expensive vehicle in the neighborhood with my Tesla Model S.
- To add salt to the wound, I even have a Land Rover LR3 which is delegated to the role of a “luxury garbage truck.”
- Private school education for my daughter.
- I do send my daughter to a private school which I try to justify my reasoning for.
Have I become what everyone in the personal finance community despises?
In my defense…
In my defense, I really live in a rural area so it doesn’t take much to be “The Joneses” in my neighborhood.
It is not uncommon for me to be directly facing a herd of cows as I pull out from my driveway.
The properties tend to be on larger lots due to zoning regulations (unless a request for exemption is granted, properties are not to be subdivided below 5 acres).
Therefore the density in my neighborhood is quite low so the “competition” of being “The Joneses” is far less than most neighborhoods.
In the end…
My neighbors are quite down to earth and have definitely not been influenced by my presence.
They continue to drive practical vehicles and live in modest houses.
I truly believe a few neighbors are expert practitioners of stealth wealth because the land value of their properties alone (800 acre farm owned by a neighbor for example) would dwarf my net worth.
Being labeled “The Joneses” of your neighborhood is not the worst thing that could happen to you.
As long as you are not creating a facade of wealth (buying on credit) in order to impress others, then no real harm is done.
I also know my status of being one of “The Joneses” would be placed in serious jeopardy if I moved into neighborhoods typically inhabited by physicians.
In the end, much like everything in life it is all relative.
What may be considered a low income in the United States would allow you to live like a king in some countries.
So I am at peace knowing I am just a big Joneses in a small pond.
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Even a steadfast DIY’er can sometimes gain benefit from the occasional professional input.
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