Who are the Joneses and why am I supposed to keep up with them?

Written by Laurie Palau. Posted in BLOG: A Life More Organized, Simplify

Most of us are familiar with the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses”, which essentially is the philosophy of wanting to keep up with the social status of our neighbors.

I am happy to admit that my husband, nor I have ever cared about “The Joneses” or what they think about us, but unfortunately we are in the minority.

My husband was raised in an apartment in the Lower East Side of Manhattan with a Cuban Immigrant father who came to this country with nothing except the clothes on his back. He taught my husband the value of hard work and not to expect anything to be handed to you.

I, on the other hand, grew up in a suburb, not too different from where we live now. My parents were not well off and I had to work for everything I have.  Many of my friends lived in big homes, their parents drove fancy cars, had vacation homes down the shore, boats, and traveled multiple times a year.  I wasn’t resentful or ashamed of what I didn’t have.  To the contrary, it motivated me to do better; I knew that in order to be successful I had to work hard and make sacrifices.

Fast forward to today. I look around at my peers, trying to “one up the next”, and their kids being handed every device known to man without truly understanding the value of a dollar, and we wonder why we are raising a generation of entitlement.

I realize this sounds like a rant, and I guess to some degree it is, but honestly this article is the core of why I started sBo.  It’s my belief that material things shouldn’t define who you are.

This article couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. This week is my girls Spring Break and Josh and I chose to stay home. We are by far, once again, in the minority, and I’m ok with that. It gives me time to catch up, enjoy my home, and spend time with my kids.

Sadly, my kids look at us staying home as a flaw; “What’s wrong with us?” or “How come everyone else gets to go away but us?” It’s my job to explain that we chose not to go away and just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t mean we have to.  In other words, I am not “keeping up with the Joneses.”

As a society, we put too much emphasis on who has the bigger house, the nicer car, and who takes the more extravagant vacation.  Our kids see this as the norm and come to expect it, rather than learn to work for it.

I have a lot of friends who live in debt, have no retirement savings, college savings, and generally live above their means.  I don’t understand why they do this. Who are you trying to impress?  As parents, we tell our kids that real friends will like you for who you are, not what you have.  I find it interesting that many of my peers don’t follow their own advice.

Don’t get me wrong, I like nice things just as much as the next person, but the difference is that I don’t allow these material things to define me or play a role in my confidence.  Simply put, my self-worth is not tied to my net-worth.

Find happiness in the small things. Be true to who you are. Set a good example and live simply.

keepin-up-with-the-joneses

 

Laurie Palau

Laurie Palau is the founder of simply B organized and host of the weekly podcast, This ORGANIZED Life. She is a go-to Organizing Expert whose advice has been featured in The New York Times Parenting Section, Family Circle, and Home + Table Magazine. Laurie can also be seen sharing tips on the CBS Philadelphia’s Morning Show & WFMZ. She lives in Bucks County, PA with her husband, 2 daughters, and 2 dogs.

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