Forget keeping up with the Joneses -- try instead to get down with the Smiths.
We humans, particularly in the States, have this built in awareness of the people around us, and how good they have it.
Their grass may be greener because of the chemicals.
We have this insatiable desire for MORE, and many of us hold the belief that a little bit MORE will make us Happy, Healthy, more FUN, WISE. The trick to all this is that research suggests that beyond a very basic level, MORE doesn't actually improve our condition.
So what's the sneaky budget lesson in this line of thought? Rather than seeing the neighbor with the BMW as an inspiration, look past her to the neighbor rocking the Honda and getting by just fine. Or after flipping through the house plans for 3000 sq ft suburban options for a 4 person family, jump online and check out the apartment listings in Tokyo. It is healthy to be reminded that there are plenty of people out there - not just getting by, but THRIVING - on LESS than we consider "normal".
The Joneses may have more, bigger, nicer, fancier...but adjusting your budget to the Smiths who do just fine with less may just yield a positive nudge to your household budget and state of mind.
David R Wattenbarger, president of DRW Financial
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