You’re Jonesing and You Don’t Even Know It — 5 Signs You’re Trying to Keep Up

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I just read an article by Jean Chatsky called Trying to keep up? You’re jonesing for debt.

The term “keeping up with the jones” always seemed like some sort of alien suburbian phenomenon to me. Something that I was not susceptible to…after all I don’t care about fancy cars or a top of the line lawn mower. But if I’m honest with myself I do fall victim to this and so might you. Here are 5 signs you might be trying to keep up with the Jones just like me:

(1) Free Lunch?
You accept invitations to go out to dinner or lunch without recognizing if it’s part of your budget.

(2) Everyday Plastic
You use credit cards to pay for everyday expenses such as your morning latte or your groceries. You do this because you don’t have enough cashflow to pay for these items. You convince yourself that it’s because of the miles and you’ll pay it later.

(3) Guilt Money
You have guilty feelings (perhaps unconscious ones) about not spending time with your child or about your child having less than other children in the neighborhood. You say you want “the best” for your child and this leads you to buy clothes, toys, books you perhaps cannot afford.

(4) Retail Therapy
You may have had a mediocre day at work or a fight with a friend. Perhaps you just have the blues. Your response is to treat yourself to retail therapy. You do this without consulting your budget. This could be as innocent as a trip to Target. $100 later you are still the same person but have more stuff and potentially $100 of debt.

(5) High Anxiety
High anxiety can lead a person to do regular retail therapy. It can also allow a person to make bad lifestyle choices that can influence your long term fiscal health. I see many parents in Los Angeles make bad financial decisions (pay for private school, too many classes for their kids, etc…) because they do not have faith in themselves or in their kids’ ability to adapt and succeed. Expect a little more from yourself and from your kids. Throwing money at a perceived problem doesn’t mean it will be solved. And there may not even be a problem just perhaps some anxiety or discomfort that needs to be looked at more closely.

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