Who Are "The Joneses" of Today's Lifestyle Inflation

Join my free week-long                   to stop stressing about your money and start taking control of it.

    Who Are “The Joneses” of Today’s Lifestyle Inflation?

    1. I recently wrote about my Joneses over on my blog (check it out! 🙂 ) its hard trying to weed out what you really need and what you want because someone else has it!

    2. The Joneses seem to date back since the beginning of time. Originally they were the monarchy or upper class/caste community and they have not gone away. I fell prey to these Joneses because I worked alongside them in the investment bank. I realized two years ago, though, that the Joneses really don’t have a great life and it’s not one that I care to emulate. They have financial messes and problems of a size and dimension that I never want to contemplate. Like anything with money, it’s all a mind game and as long as you remind your mind that the grass isn’t greener, the Joneses lose their luster.

    3. The Jonese don’t have any control over my spending habits. I’d love to have an honest conversation with any Jones family and see how truly happy or balanced their budget really is. My guess is that things look great on the outside, but on the inside it’s a big mess.

    4. Keeping up with the Joneses or anyone who I saw with a lifestyle that I wanted played a role in my consumer debt. Now that I am debt free and financially solvent, I’m at a point where the Joneses can keep whatever they have as I’m doing pretty good with whatever I have in my life. Yes of course I still have some wants, but it has nothing to do with anyone else at this point.

    5. I think I generally feel pretty impervious to “The Joneses syndrome,” and I think part of it is just viewing bills, especially repeating monthly ones that come with cool cars and big houses and giant credit card bills, as chains that trap you. Which totally freaks me out more than any of that stuff would bring me pleasure.

      Nonetheless, I am totally susceptible to travel envy – which can definitely suck up a lot of your money. When pictures pop up of friends in cool places (which is freaking constantly since half my feed is filled with friends from all over the world), I immediately want to start Googling airfares, checking out Groupon travel deals, etc. Ugh.

    6. Andrew says:

      “Even I, in my infinite condemning of overspending and hyper consumerism, fall prey to the dangers of lifestyle inflation” —I am the same way! I think I’ve done a pretty good job with ignoring and avoiding comparing myself with others and trying to inflate my lifestyle to their level. I do get a little jealous when I see my friends with nice cars, house, etc…but then I try to be grateful for all the great things in my life and realize that those material things don’t always bring happiness.

    7. In this respect I think my husband and I have been lucky so far. Our peers are fellow grad students who all earn almost exactly what we do and have very similar lifestyles. Our pay is so much lower than anyone we know with a real job that we know it’s not worth comparing. (And we don’t watch reality TV.) I think keeping our eyes on our own paper will be much harder when we have real jobs and our colleagues have more stratified pay.

    8. Kirsten says:

      Fascinating book – I’m going to have to carve out some time to read it. I always think we do pretty good about not keeping up with the Joneses, but when the topic comes up, I realize that we have some problems. No, I don’t want a big, fancy mansion, but we might have bought “more” house than we really needed. We do really great about driving our cars until they won’t run anymore, but when it comes time for a new one, we get something slightly nicer or newer than we really need. We’ve matured financially over the course of the last sux months, so only time will tell if we are still chasing after those Joneses.

    9. Ah, those Joneses. Such crazy, crazy people. 🙂 I don’t typically find myself feeling as though I need to keep up with others (and this in part comes from helping so many people who are in deep financial trouble because they tried) but where I have to watch myself is with my spending on the girls. And not because they are even begging me to buy things, but it’s the playground Mom talk, which can get competitive fast. And sometimes I find myself getting sucked in too, wondering if I should be buying Lauren and Taylor this or that too. Thankfully good sense keeps me from heading to store but it is something I have to be mindful about. And I get travel envy too!

    10. Sounds like an insightful book! Just the other day, my boyfriend learned a college friend moved near us. Upon going on Facebook (of course), we saw they had a gorgeous apartment with a city view. We live outside the city, so we’re probably paying at least $700 less than they are in rent. That’s what I try to focus on =). My boyfriend was noticeably down after that, though, thinking he hasn’t made it as far after college. I told him we’re happy right now and that’s what matters. It’s such a tough balance.

    11. As much as I’m grateful for everything I’ have some of my good friends live in the areas I couldn’t afford. We could move there, however that means sacrificing my investments. I often have to remind myself of how good are finances are and not to mess it up by following others

    12. At this point I am trying to cut back and do with less. The other side of the coin is I actually want less stuff in my life as well. This is such a important discussion though…money can’t buy you happiness! Pinning – glad I saw your post on the SITS Sharefest…it was a great read!

    13. Mine is still that family with the white picket fence. Haha

    14. Sarah Fuller says:

      I notice that lots of kids/tween shows are rife with unrealistic Keeping up with the Jones examples.

    15. As I clean my dated home, I long for the granite kitchen countertops my sisters both have, but putting more debt on top of debt is just plain dumb, so I snap out of it. In reality, I will never see granite countertops in my current too large home for long. For after we can afford to do this, we will sell and downsize, taking our equity and putting it into rental property (likely) or adding to our investment portfolio for retirement. I have to think that the financial freedom will be worth the wait and then maybe I will get granite or corian in my new smaller abode. Patience, grasshopper. At the end of the day, it’s only material things and they are not as important as the family relationships we should be nurturing. I need to remind myself of this more often.

    16. Miss M says:

      It’s SO true. Especially with social media, it’s so hard to see all these people with SO much beautiful stuff! And not wanting to have that is SO hard. But I just keep telling myself it’s worth it! Thanks for a great post!

    17. Michelle says:

      I need to read that book. My Joneses would be anyone with no debt or a cabin in Breckenridge 🙂

    18. Rachel G says:

      This is so interesting, that today’s “Jones’s” are much more unrealistic than those of past generations because we find ourselves comparing our own lives to those in totally different economic circles than us. You said that Shor said to “bring your lifestyle into correspondence with your values”–now that’s good advice. I’m glad that I’ve given my own priorities and goals for my life some thought before jumping in to what “everyone else” does–more people should!

    19. Tennille says:

      I don’t really have a “Jones’s”. To have that kind of a life style means giving up the things that I truly wanted out of life. It meant more time spent at work and away from kids, a more demanding schedule, etc. What I value is family time, being home with my 2 little boys, a husband who is home every night to kiss the kids good night and cuddle during story time. To live a slow, quiet, simple life.

    20. You make a great point about social media comparisons–it’s so easy to look on there and feel immediately that your life is lacking in some area. But, people only post what they want you to see! I have to remind myself of that every time I log into Facebook (which is less and less frequently). I certainly don’t post photos of me cleaning the bathroom or brushing Frugal Hound’s teeth. It probably looks like all I do is hike, go to yoga, and drink wine with friends. Hah! Thanks for this post–always good to keep it all in perspective.

    21. Oh the joneses. I remember the first time I heard the term from the postal delivery guy who came to my parents house during a remodel who said, “you’re keeping up with the joneses.” No clue who they were in the neighborhood back then. I realized he meant the fact that everyone during the mid 2000s were remodeling their homes. You are right that the people we compare ourselves to are those who don’t even live in our own neighborhoods or same income levels.

    22. It’s funny how I never cared to keep up with those Joneses until this past year. All of a sudden, I just wanted everything, all at once, NOW. Then I realized I’d been watching House Hunters on a regular basis. Suddenly I couldn’t go in my bathroom or kitchen without noticing just how ‘outdated’ they were. I really had to snap out of it and realize it was all just a media mind trick. As long as there are people who I love and who love me, a roof over my head, food on the table, clothes on my back, and heat in my house, I am truly blessed indeed. Thanks for a great read. 🙂

    23. I am sure we all have Jonses’, but I would say that I don’t even know mine in person. If anything I get inspired to make more and spend less by things I read on the internet. My husband and I both try our best to spend true to our values but it can be difficult when there is so much to spend money on out there, haha.

    24. Lila says:

      My Joneses are autonomy, freedom, health and happiness. If I have these “things” then I don’t care if I have a mansion or yacht. Very expensive lifestyles cost a lot to maintain. I was watching several documentaries about mansions and estates on Netflix like: Secrets of Chatsworth and Secrets of Highclere Castle, and their descendants open up these estates for tourism and hospitality in order to maintain them, and each new generation is responsible for keeping up these estates and making repairs, etc.

      IMO one can be very comfortable if they don’t have debt and have a cache of savings in the bank. I also think rich is relative. …My family and I lived in Russia, then we moved to Costa Rica, and then we moved to the U.S. When we moved to the U.S. our quality of life significantly increased and we lived a normal, typical, middle-class lifestyle…but to us being middle-class in America felt rich. We assimilated pretty easily and became U.S. citizens.

    25. Tre says:

      I want the house on the beach, but I’d settle for a little shack 🙂

    26. Shows on TV like “House Hunters,” “Yard Crashers,” and “Decked Out” don’t help either. You see people buying houses and making renovations that most people could never ever afford. Seeing it day after day makes you think it’s the “norm” and makes you think not only that you can have it, but that you should have it.

    27. What helps me most with not trying to keep up, is focusing more on my relationships and experiences. It’s widely accepted that people actually are more gratified by experiencing things than they are from things they buy. So, I try to do fun activities with the people I love instead of buying the newest trend, and it actually works for me!

    28. I can say that I’m a frugal type and I’m not entertaining Joneses in my life. But sometimes, when I saw in the social media sites that my friends have a new branded clothes, bags and a very shiny new car, I feel that I want those things also, but I just shook my head and forget about it.

    29. I also sometimes feel like I have to keep with the Joneses and desire things beyond my means. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish what we want and what we need, so I think it’s important to think over (and over again) before making huge purchases to avoid falling as a victim of consumerism. Great post!

    30. My problem is I can’t figure out at what point it’s just living my regular life bc I can afford it and like it, and not actual lifestyle inflation. How do you strike the right balance?

    31. Sounds like a really interesting read! And agree, today with so much over stimulation it’s easier to want bigger and more than just craving your neighbor’s washing machine back in the 50’s.

    32. Most of the “Joneses” I know are broke. Living paycheck to paycheck. Barely making there $1000 car payments. I look to people who are successful in the way I have to be successful. Debt free, wealthy, but not extravagant lifestyles. Great post! I enjoyed it.

    33. Great article Stefanie!!
      I had a girlfriend whose last name was Jones and she was the only “Jones'” I had to keep up with 🙂
      I long ago decided to just go through life my own way and whatever anyone else did, that was cool, but it had no influence on me what-so-ever!
      Mind you, it did take me a while to come to that arrangement! It helped though that I don’t like the beach, so no worries about me Jones-ing for a beach-front property 🙂
      Take care and all the best.

    34. Simon Cave says:

      Great article! Living below one’s needs is the chore principle of any accumulation of wealth.

    35. […] Who are YOUR Joneses? Today’s Lifestyle Inflation from The Broke And Beautiful Life […]

    36. Pauline says:

      I have TV Joneses, as you said, few shows are realistic. How can Zooey Deschanel on New Girl afford designer dresses and boots on a primary school teacher’s salary? But other than this few real life people have the time and freedom I enjoy, and that is worth a lot more to me than stuff.

    37. Syed says:

      I agree that social media, especially Facebook, has made lifestyle inflation even more desirable. It’s so easy to click through your feed and see childhood friends chillin in the caribbean and showing off their new cars. No one puts sad events of their life on facebook do they? The solution? Use Facebook only as necessary. It’s utility is pretty limited.

      • Stefanie says:

        I’ve definitely seen a few depressing facebook statuses, but yeah, it’s mostly amazing trips. I have to admit, I still love facebook. I love looking through photos and statuses, and I’ve found at least three or four jobs from facebook, not to mention subletted my apartment several times over and found free places to stay while traveling. I’ve probably saved and made thousands 🙂

    38. Broke:

      I am a sucker for landscaping. I am always spending money on the backyard.


    39. […] that compound our own hardship- spending unnecessarily, ignoring unchecked debt, succumbing to lifestyle inflation– sacrificing the fruits of tomorrow for the indulgences of […]

    40. […] As I move further away from my former broke reality and towards greater wealth, I’m finding that my spending isn’t really changing. I’m not using my new earning potential to purchase luxury vacations or designer clothes. I’m still practicing my frugal habits of free haircuts, citibiking, couponing, etc. So I can’t attribute this joy surrounding my greater income to some new inflated lifestyle. […]

    41. […] Related: Who Are Your Joneses? Today’s Lifestyle Inflation […]

    42. […] admittedly tempting me to open the spending floodgates, but as many artists and freelancers know, inflating lifestyle based on temporary income influxes can prove dangerous to future finances. I’m working to rein […]

    43. […] One of the most common mistakes young professionals make when operating under the assumption that they’ll making more money in the future is living beyond their means. […]

    44. DaBizWhiz says:

      Great post! It is hard because these people many times also complain to why the rich are rich and why they are not retired or have to go to work every day.

      Do you know what I normally answer: You know why the rich get rich and you continue getting poorer? Because you are a utility of the rich. Every time you earn your paycheck, you use it to buy crap you don’t need. You basically work for them and help them grow their business, then you return the money they gave you back to them when you spend the money on crap.

      This normally hits them hard because they feel like they are being used like a tool. Which in the end is the truth but not with a bad intention.

      Companies are not bad, they just want all your money.

    45. This is such a great article, especially how you end it. It is easy to fall into the trap of getting happiness only from the materialistic possessions but finding that balance between material possessions and experiences is a must. I think one thing that helps me in this case is gratitude for the things and aspects going right in my life. In a country like India, you can either look at the milling masses living in poverty and count your blessings or you can look at the mansions built by the people at the peak of that pyramid and feel miserable. Lately I have been choosing the path of gratitude and am so much better for it.

    46. […] through her blog, when I landed on the “Who Are “The Joneses” of Today’s Lifestyle Inflation?” post it was like a lot of my thoughts put in words. I am someone who does not believe in […]

    47. […] My Favorite Post: How Much Does it Cost to Live in NYC? and The Danger of “Keeping Up With the Jones” […]

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    latest posts

    Top Picks

    what's next





    Download this worksheet to start sharpening your negotiating skills.

    Learn how to start. Even when you feel broke.

    Try these 5 strategies to help you stop buying stuff you don’t need.

    This cheat sheet will show you how to talk about money at every stage in your relationship.



    watch the video

    READ the post



    on Instagram