Cost Savings Series: 4—Who are the Joneses and Why Do We Want to Keep Up with Them?

Share on Social Media:,, compound interest, cost saving, money saving, keeping up with the jonesesI’m pretty sure you have all heard the phrase “Keeping up with the Joneses” but do we really know who the Jones family is and why do they have all this stuff that we all seem to want. Some of what I’ve seen on the web indicates the phrase has been around for almost 100 years and may have started with a comic strip in the early 1900’s. Regardless of how the phrase started we all have likely heard it and we all would probably vehemently deny that we try to keep up with the Joneses. But I think if we really looked deep into our behaviors, we all subconsciously do this to some extent (me included).

For example, there have always been nice cars that people buy, but the class of cars called “luxury” has really expanded since the late 1980’s. Every auto maker seems to have a class of cars for that category. Are the cars nice? Absolutely. Are they reliable? Many of them are extremely reliable. Is there anything wrong with getting one? Not necessarily.

But maybe it’s worth stopping to think if you can really afford that type of car. Do you want one because that’s what all your friends are doing? Hopefully that’s not the case, but I’ve seen countless people who will buy and buy and buy more things to make themselves look successful, powerful or superior. It’s almost like it is a contest to see who can get the fanciest house, car, pool, boat, watch, etc. Do fancy or expensive things make you look successful?

For example, if two shirts were exactly the same style, color, material, and price, but the only difference was that shirt #1had no logo it and shirt #2 had a logo of a guy on a horse or an alligator (we all know the brands I’m referring to), which one would you purchase? Odds, are probably high that you would purchase the one with a logo on it. That hits me close to home. I think I would pick the logo shirt, in fact I have. Even though I shop at the outlets and really only buy my shirts when on sale, I still would typically pick the one with a logo on it. Do all my clothes have logos on them? Nope. But enough of them do that I need to be conscience of what might be influencing my buying decisions.

I’ve seen neighbors put in a nice pool, then another family put in a pool with a bigger waterfall and more rock work, then another family put one in with a still bigger waterfall, a slide and even more features. Maybe they were planning on getting those features all along, maybe they paid cash for the project and they have no debt. If so, that’s awesome, but check yourself to see if you find yourself wanting or even thinking that you “need” these things.

The sad truth about many (but not all) of the “Jones” families around the country is that they are saddled with incredible amounts of debt. The credit crisis of 2008 and beyond put some more checks and balances in place for home mortgage lending but there are still very easy ways to get into a large amount of debt, mainly by using credit cards.

We’ll continue the cost savings series with an item that is a popular way we may get caught up in trying to keep up with the Joneses…cars.