Goodbye to the Joneses: Who Were They, Anyway?

Goodbye to the Joneses:
Who Were They, Anyway?

 

Obituary: It is with our deepest condolences to all that we announce the death of Mr. and Mrs. Jones, everyone’s favourite neighbours and friends, as they passed away at the ripe old age of 105. They will no longer taunt us with their fancy purchases and their beautiful pictures of every vacation we have ever dreamt of. We wish them a peaceful rest, and ask that, in lieu of flowers and donations, your money may remain with yourselves and your time with your friends and family. There will be no service, as we have celebrated life of keeping up with the Joneses for far too long. 

 

Who were the Joneses, anyway?

 

You hear the term “Keeping up with the Joneses” used liberally in the personal finance space. If you don’t know the term, it describes the efforts that people take to keep up with the neighbours that have everything.

 

What I didn’t know was that it started with a comic strip called Keeping up with the Joneses created by Arthur R. “Pop” Momand in 1913. The comic strip was popular and ran until 1940 in The New York World and other newspapers.

 

There are a few other ideas where the Jones’ family came from, but this is the most widely accepted version.

 

Here we are, more than a hundred years later, still chasing the dream of keeping up with the Joneses!

 

I had previously shared a post about our history, and how, post-war, we were in the mindset to accumulate anything and everything, as life before was a struggle, and excess anything was but a dream. In the post, I felt we had become addicts of owning stuff.

 

Despite being an Xennial (for those who do not know, it’s the gap between Gen X and Millennials, roughly 1978 – 1983), I was raised with the Gen X mindset of more is better. To have more, to afford more, to accumulate more meant that you were wealthier, and therefore better off, should something happen in the world that limited our access to “stuff”. Gen X was really the last generation raised by parents who remember rations and war/post-war life. Those were the days when parents  made you sit at the table until your dinner was finished, whether you were still hungry or not, and if you liked it or not, because that was what was served. There was no option for a different meal, or not finishing your plate, because that was wasteful.

 

How many people remember being told there are starving children in the world, so finish your dinner! (Can’t say it made sense to me then, or now. I offered to ship it to them…. that didn’t go over well.)

 

My parents, for example, have a basement full of stuff. An extra dining table, supplies that were “on sale”, childhood toys, exercise equipment from the 80s, the old Atari game system, an old stove, a massive freezer (for the two people that live there), a couch, the last two artificial Christmas trees, a dresser… the list goes on and on.

 

Sometimes there were benefits from having parents that saved everything. We all had that time in our lives that we didn’t have anything: college days where life was about hand-me-downs, and making due with small spaces because we didn’t have the money yet to have the life we wanted. Post-college, reality tended to set in, and we started wanting, but for some, a simple lesson (or two) was learned. Fellow blogger,  Your Money Geek, shared a post about being broke and learning the value of things during that period of time.

 

It’s a common perspective that millennials have been raised in a completely different time, leaving them with a different mindset. They have never seen a shortage of anything: there’s been a never-ending supply of food, commodities and technology that moved faster than a speeding bullet.

 

They can’t reminisce about getting up to change the television station, rewinding a cassette tape with a pencil, or waiting for a sibling to get off the phone so you could call your friends.

 

(Removing the privilege argument from this to say that not all millennials have been raised to rely on having enough. I acknowledge that many were not as fortunate to have everything handed to them.)

 

Earlier, I read a post shared by the blogger of FlytoFi.com where he has a guest writer who discusses minimalism and millennials. This post resonated with me, as I agree with the writer who states that minimalism can be traced to millennials, and not needing everything is a concept that is new to everyone. Millennials had enough, or too much, depending on the situation, and now excess has flipped to the extreme: to want nothing.

 

So, who are today’s Joneses? Are they the neighbour who has a boat, two or three cars, a big house and flashy jewelry? Or, are they the neighbour who lives in a condo, has a compact car, and believes less is more?

 

Are today's Joneses the mindless consumer or the immaculate minimalist? Do they still exist and why, after 105 years, do we let them control us? Click To Tweet

 

We struggle with the concept that both are the Joneses. We want access to the big house, the boat and the flashy side effects, but we also crave the simplicity of minimalism. How many times have you gone on vacation with just a suitcase, stayed in a hotel room, and realized that there was very little you actually needed beyond what was there? How many times have you gone home, glad to be home, but overwhelmed with all the clutter and things you own?

 

And yet, how many of us still get a thrill from going shopping and buying something we think we need, just to bring it home and realize three months later that it was not something we needed, but something that cluttered up our space and gave us a momentary glimpse of what being the Joneses is like.

 

What a vicious circle we have created for ourselves!

 

Whether you are on the journey to seek financial independence, saving for your retirement, or just having a healthy savings account, let’s redefine the Joneses.

 

Ten Reasons Not To Be The Next Joneses:

 

  1. Reduce waste in our landfills.

 

  1. Less property tax to be paid on smaller properties.

 

  1. Less fuel emissions on smaller or hybrid cars. (What’s better than paying for a Ferrari? Having a friend who has a Ferrari!)

 

  1. Less stuff to clean and purge or to launder (like clothes).

 

  1. Enjoy and appreciate your belongings more.

 

  1. No stressing about overextension of credit.

 

  1. No awkward moments with the repo man.

 

  1. Better credit score from less debt.

 

  1. No worries about people trying to steal from you if you are perceived as wealthy.

 

  1. More money for the people and things that matter.

 

Being a conscientious spender is one of the biggest factors in the pursuit of financial freedom.

 

What do you think about the Joneses? Is it still attractive or has it finally come to an end? While I wish the Joneses of our lives well, I think their reign has finally come to an end.

 

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites.

Does Money Breed Insensitivity?

Does Money Make You Insensitive?

 

Many of you may have listened to Paula Pant’s Afford Anything podcast with Suze Orman where Orman completely destroys the idea of FIRE (Financial Independent Retire Early). I was utterly speechless at the comments that she made.

 

Orman’s Perspectives

 

Orman speaks of the money she has, her private island, her prior 5 houses and 5 cars, and the tens of millions (or more) that she has made over her lifetime. She thinks retirement requires millions of dollars, and that $80 thousand a year is not enough to live on.

 

She goes so far as to talk about extremes, like what if a pole goes through the front of your windshield and you are disabled? She also thinks parents should pay for private school and post-secondary education for children.

 

When did people with money forget what it’s like to not have money?

 

What Orman did not realize was that she was so opinionated, she made listeners like me absolutely sick. From the idea that lower income earners can never dream of FIRE, and that FIRE will break our economy, it was demoralizing.

 

Orman is not the only one who forgets what it’s like to not have a 6-figure income. My background of working for professionals reminds me of the differences between the haves and the have nots.

 

Does Privilege Breed Insensitivity?

 

Some people find it encouraging to see others who have amassed a large income, but there are others who simply did not have the means to attend a post-secondary education institution for the extra years it takes to become a doctor, lawyer, or other professional designation. What bothers me the most is when the assistant/employee/lower-wage earner is clearly an important and necessary part of the foundation of a high wage earner’s enterprise, and yet they are treated as unnecessary, and paid either under a living wage or just at a living wage.

 

I want to ask them, was there a time when you did not know how you were going to pay rent? Did you ever have to decide between going on a vacation or investing in your retirement? Did you ever stop to think that your employees do not have the same options as you in life? And yet, without them, you would not be as successful as you are today.

 

I spoke about the inequalities in my minimum wage post, and still wonder what it will take for people like Orman to realize that the options for her and the options for the rest of us will never be the same.

 

Some of us will be fortunate, and may have a successful career, minimal health issues, and be able to plan for retirement. Some of us will always be playing catch up; hoping we can work long enough to save for retirement.  But for those who are extremely wealthy, why do you forget the struggles? Why do you discount the privilege?

 

While I am not saying that those who are wealthy beyond their needs should give handouts to others, I am really hoping that they consider paving the way for some others to find opportunities. Many wealthy people use charitable donations to minimize taxes, but when was the last time they stepped out of their private island comfort zone and gave a hand up? Got their hands dirty, and blessed people who work hard and may never have enough to travel their continent, never mind the world?

 

Callout to the Wealthy

 

This is a callout to all those who have had tremendous success. Please reach out to someone and help them on their way. People like Orman need to stop putting others down for not having as much as she was blessed with, and she is not a matriarch or model for the rest of us. She is someone who has been fortunate and forgets that our life doesn’t need to be 45 years of steady work in the event of a tragic accident or dire straits.

 

The FIRE movement will still pay taxes, and will open up other jobs that may not otherwise be available. It’s all about options, and when people like Orman tell you that it’s stupid to desire the freedom of options, and that her words are “truths”, she forgets that there may be other paths, and other roads which can lead to the same place.

 

Are you pro FIRE or do you think Orman is right that it’s a slippery slide to the end? Do you think privileged folk forget the rest of us? I’d like to hear from you.

 

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites.

8 Pet Peeves of Frugality

 

8 Pet Peeves of Frugality

 

FRUGALITY

 

Frugal tips that really bug me 

 

There are a ton of frugal tips out there that are fantastic, and almost as many that really bother me. Here’s my list of things to NOT do, as inevitably, they will come back to us in our cost of living. 

Take condiment packages from restaurants.

 

These restaurants put them out for use with the meals we purchase. If people start taking more than their share, eventually the restaurant will stop providing them, or the prices will go up. This means the condiments will no longer be free to people to use with their meals, as we will pay more. 

 

Share cable or other streaming services with the neighbour.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not the cable police. But services are metered out per household, and when more use is put on one line, it can have an affect on the usage of the area. If your service package says it’s only for your household, then don’t share with neighbours. If you get caught, you may lose your account or even be charged with theft.

 

 

Sign up multiple times for services with different email addresses just to get the free trial over and over. 

 

If the service is good enough that you want to use it regularly, and you go to the trouble of using multiple emails, you may get caught as all emails are coming from the same IP address. Further, you are still creating cost for the company, which in turn causes a higher cost to others. (It’s not like the company will lower their profits, right?) 

 

Reusing stamps that have not been inked.

 

Okay, this one is iffy. The post office is to ink each stamp to show it’s used, and sometimes they miss one or two. Is it ok to remove the stamp and reuse it? You are creating work for someone who has to be paid, and you haven’t paid for that service. That’s not a cool thing to do.

 

Signing up for freebies with multiple emails.

 

I’ve been guilty of this one. If a company is providing free samples, is it fair to sign up for four when three other people could use them and perhaps be customers in the future? Think about if you were in the grocery store. Would you eat four samples just because you were standing there and you were at the front of the line? (Maybe if they were super good, but even then, no!)

 

 

 

Stealing from community gardens.

 

Community gardens are for communities to grow fruits and vegetables, not for the community to feed the community – unless otherwise specified. A community garden is not up for grabs by anyone other than the gardener.

 

 

 

Denting cans or causing damage to packaging for a discount.

 

I’ve seen one too many Simpsons episodes, but dented cans are not usually a discounted item unless they are in a discount bin. Don’t cause damage to packaging in hopes that you might be eligible for a discount on the product.

 

 

Dirty Habits: Not flushing toilets, not washing clothes for multiple times of wear, and worst of all: that you can get more than one day out of socks and underwear.

 

Sometimes cleanliness is worth the extra pennies of being frugal, so please flush those toilets, wash your clothes and change your gitches! 

 

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Recommended Reading:

A Beginner’s Guide to RRSPs and TFSAs

31 Ways to Max Out Your TFSA (or IRA)

Save My Rental: What You Need To Know About Tenant Selection 

 

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites.