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.

When It’s Time To Move On From Your Job

When It’s Time To
Move On From Your Job

 

quit job Sometimes we wait too long to quit that job. We let it eat us alive, and suffer silently. Sometimes it's time to let go, and here's my story. #job #quit

 

I quit my job.

The Friday before FinCon, I quit my job. I was working as an assistant to a professional in the real estate field. I loved the work I did, as I could consume anything related to real estate.

What I didn’t love was how the job made me feel.

I’ll be honest – it wasn’t necessarily that employer, or any employer. It was the nature of the field, and the nature of the business. Real estate had concrete deadlines, which I enjoyed, but what I didn’t enjoy was the pressure. Much like many jobs and careers, there was a list as long as I was tall that had to be done within a certain amount of time. True to the times we live in, the problem was that the support staffing got smaller, and the list got longer.

I found myself being angry at the end of the day because I didn’t accomplish as much as I thought I should have. Then I would get anxious about the next day, and often I would stay late to play catch up. I would be anxious all morning on my way into work, thinking about what needed to be done, and it was common to wake up in the middle of the night with the thought that something had been forgotten.

The anxiety followed me into my job, and caused moments of panic. I suffered through times where I had to leave my desk and just get some air. There was never enough air, it seemed, though no one else seemed to notice the lack of oxygen.

Lack of oxygen also caused me… wait no, the anxiety also caused me to be emotional. Small words would just tip the tower and then I would break into tears. Too many times I sat at my desk or in the washroom trying not to sob uncontrollably. Five minutes later, I couldn’t tell you what was so horrible that I felt like I was losing control, but I knew in the moment it felt like the world was closing in.

I would resort to sugar. Sugar always lifted my spirits, right? I ate my concerns and tried to concentrate on my work. It would help for a bit, but like any sugar rush, it would also come crashing down.

This roller coaster of anxiety, lack of sleep, sugar thrills, and emotions would leave me drained, as I still felt like I was behind. Now, keep in mind I had more than a decade of experience, and knew exactly what I was doing, and I was very good at my job. I’d been told by others the same, so it wasn’t a self-created performance review. I just never felt like I got enough done.

Finally, I would get home from work, exhausted from the emotions, and climb into my bed, the couch or anywhere else I could hide from the world. I needed sleep, time off, vacation. I tried that. Vacation was wonderful! We made it out to Cuba and enjoyed a week in the sun.

The return was hard. I managed to contract the flu, which kept me home for another four days.

I returned to work, and it was like I had purposely left my coworkers in the lurch, if you asked them. It was horrible. It was a month before the holidays, and I worked weekends to play catch up. There’s nothing like sucking the relaxation out of you by working weekends and all week!

An opportunity came up to change scenery, but the work loads were the same. I worked with a great boss who reminded me to do what I could, but others were still pressuring me to get more done. The anxiety tripled, as this time it felt as though I was working alone, and had the whole system to carry.

Some would say anxiety is a narcissistic quality, and perhaps it is. However, it doesn’t stop the anxiety from eating you alive.

I realized I was also suffering from depression. I lost my spunk, and everyone around me noticed I was not laughing or smiling anymore. I would think about reasons why I couldn’t go to work – I was in an accident, or the car broke down, or the dog ran away, or the refrigerator stopped working… anything to dream about having a break. But I knew the work would be there, waiting for me to return.

I needed help. After a day of running to the restroom six times in 4 hours to hold back tears of depression, anxiety and loss of self-esteem, I knew I needed help.

My doctor agreed with the diagnosis of depression and anxiety. I’ve dealt with chronic depression and anxiety for most of my life, but I’d never fallen this hard. It was like my medication had stopped working, and life was awful.

The doctor gave me two options: immediately take time off work, or be admitted for observation to the hospital.

I took the time off work.

I had three months of doctor visits, specialist visits, and was sent to a cardiologist to assess the chest pain I had at work. The doctors wanted to ensure that the pain was stress-related, not a heart condition. I had stress tests, bloodwork and more appointments than time off, it seemed. I saw a counsellor, a psychiatrist, a new family doctor, and a few others I have probably forgotten.

Also, I took time for self-care. I had my nails done, I spent time in the sun, and I visited with family.

I was starting to feel like a person again. Someone with hopes and dreams and goals and ideas. Someone with positivity, and could laugh. Someone worth being around.

It was then that I made a decision. I would not return to my beloved job in real estate. It was too much pressure, and I’ll be damned if I am going to give myself a heart attack before the age of forty. It’s worth betting that the job has done enough damage to me already.

I quit my job.

Thankfully, I’d been working as a virtual assistant for some time, and was able to keep working at that partially, and I had some side hustles going on, so I decided to find work that was less demanding, more flexible and would offer me the opportunity to build my client base for freelancing.

I am sharing this very personal story for a few reasons:

  1. You need self-care.

I would not take the time for myself that I needed. I didn’t take all my vacation time, and I didn’t feel comfortable using it because I felt it would put me behind. Wrong answer, folks! Take the time to relax, get cared for by someone else, and revel in all the goodness in your life. There’s always goodness in your life. Like Chris Hogan *** says, if you’re grateful, you can’t be hateful.

  1. You need a support system.

Someone has your back. If it’s a friend, sibling, spouse or family member, someone cares. Reach out. Tell them you need something. Let them care about you. You are never alone.

  1. You need to listen to yourself.

If something feels off, pay attention. Panic attacks, depression, chest pains, weight gain, weight loss, migraines, headaches, etc., can all be signs of a bigger issue. Pay attention and take note.

  1. Sometimes the higher paying job isn’t worth the stress.

I will admit, that job paid better than some. I gave up the salary for less, but I also gave up the stress. I am working now for less money, more time flexibility, more time to do the things I love, and at the end of the shift, I know my job is done until the next day. No more stressing out about not finishing things – I did the best I could that day, and tomorrow is another day. I will need to work harder on some of the things I love doing, and I might need to let go of a few wants vs. needs in order to afford this new lifestyle, but I am okay with it. I sleep at night, and don’t have chest pain during the day. It’s a better fit for me at this time.

  1. You need to find something you love to do, so that you feel like you’ve accomplished something in your week.

I love blogging and writing, and I love what I do for my freelancing clients.  (PS I have more time for clients who need virtual assistant services, let me know if you need help!) I control the time I spend on my freelancing business, and adjust my work schedule accordingly. At the end of the week, I see blogs with beautiful designs, edited posts, and all kinds of other things I had a hand in during the week.  I feel good about the work I am doing.

  1. Knowing you need help getting through something does not make you weak. It makes you strong for recognizing it and getting through it.

Don’t think for a moment that I didn’t feel like a failure for not achieving MY ideal at my job… and for feeling like I failed when I needed time off. I got over it, because I had to. It’s okay to feel your emotions, but be realistic. If I had stayed in that position, it would have continued to suck the life out of me, and I could not be my most authentic self. I could not be a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother to pets, or anything else. I would not be able to be me. You need to be you, and sometimes taking a step back is what’s required to see the big picture.

One Wish

I hope my experience and these 6 points resonate with you if you are feeling overwhelmed at your job. It doesn’t mean you necessarily need to leave your job, but if you acknowledge where you are and how you are feeling, you might be able to make accommodations long before you get to the point where I was.

 

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investing in RRSP & TFSA

 

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.