I have a secret for you. I have sat behind closed doors with the Joneses. They talked to me about the things they aren’t spilling to anyone else. They came to my office fighting about the usual suspects: sex and money. It turns out—up close—the Joneses are not as rich, beautiful, or happy as you thought.
Mr. and Mrs. Jones live on every street, in every city. They sit next to you in school. They share your office. In your life, you won’t ever be able to escape them. Unfortunately, if you keep trying to chase them you probably end up financially injured. It’s time to stop the race.
The comparison trap will catch you every time.
People benchmark their lives by examining the public-facing façades of people in their social circles. People look to their circle of peers for behavioural cues. The snapshots of what they see drive decision-making about everything from real estate to the brand of seltzer water that they sip. It is problematic when the pictures they are trying to copy contain people also living beyond their means in a bid to keep up appearances. Often, individuals form false assumptions about the circumstances of the people around them. Instead, they fill in gaps left by incomplete information with their imagination.
Stay in your spending lane.
Peer spending behaviours can simultaneously create pressure and permission to make financial choices that have problematic math. At times, people struggle to say “no” when invited to an event or partake in an experience, even if it will break the budget. The struggle to hold a boundary often stems from a desire to not disappoint or fear of missing out. External scanning of “who has what” can also result in adopting the idea, “if someone else has something, surely I should too.” The truth: only your individual context determines what is right for you.
Possessing is not the same as owning or affording
Many people have lives, houses, and driveways full of things that they don’t technically own outright. Many people lead overleveraged lives and borrowed existences. Objects may appear shiny on the outside, but often unseen is the stress of carrying debt.
The key to getting ahead: stop trying to “keep up.”
End the chase.
Stop the race.
Dr. Joy Lere is a licensed clinical psychologist and behavioural finance consultant who practices where Freud meets finance. She is the Wall Street shrink who helps people have more dollars and live with more sense.
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Dr.. Joy Lere’s website: www.joylere.com
Email Dr. Joy Lere: firstname.lastname@example.org
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