Comparing Your Financial Situation to Others

In one way or another, we have all tried to “keep up with the Joneses.” OK, maybe not everybody tries to “keep up” per se; at the very least, we have all “compared our lives to the Joneses.”

Whether it be looks, personality, finances, or any other aspect of life worthy of comparison, there is always somebody better. Who cares? Right? Well, it is easy to tell you not to compare yourself to others but quite difficult to actually do it. It is human nature to want what others have.

One area in life that many people like to compare their lives to is money. It is very easy to do because it is quantitative. Johnny has $2 million, and I have $100,000; hence, Johnny is better than me. The truth is, maybe Johnny has more money than you, but it doesn’t actually mean he is better or worse. And it also doesn’t mean he will have more money in the future. Either way, while competing to be the best is necessary in achieving your goals, constant comparison can dwindle away your self-esteem. If someday you have $3 million and Johnny still has $2 million, then you have to worry about Frank who has $5 million; it never stops.

At the same time, some of your friends (or competitors) might seem to have a lot of money because of the car they drive and the vacations they go on; however, they are in debt. Their outside appearances make them out to be rich, but they are not. While they are showing off, instead of being jealous, you could spend the time planning your financial future, discovering ways to save and earn more money, and investing. Then, one day, you could have the nice care and vacations with no debt and plenty money saved for the rest of your life. The key is to not kill yourself by comparing yourself to others.

You can have piece of mind by not worrying about how much more or less money you have than other people. This is not to say you shouldn’t try and be rich (if that is your goal). This simply means, concentrate on your own financial situation. Make a plan and enjoy the journey. If your friend has a Lamborghini and you don’t, who cares. You’ll have it someday if you want it, but look at your situation right now and decide how you are going to improve. Maybe you don’t have a Lamborghini, but you do have access to more luxuries than kings and queens did five hundred years ago. You have what you need, now go after what you want.

Here are some tips to help you stop comparing your financial situation to others:

Ignore Appearances
As mentioned above, just because somebody likes to show of their “money,” doesn’t mean they have any. The average household in the United States carries over $137,000 in debt.[1] Realize that many people are able to live their luxurious lives because they put everything on their credit card. Assuming that you stay out of debt (which you absolutely should), your friends should be jealous of you.

Be Grateful
This takes time and practice; it doesn’t happen overnight. Look at your life and appreciate what you do have. Though we are living through the most prosperous times in world history, suicide rates are the most they have been in a half-century. In fact, in 2017, there were more than 47,000 suicides in the United States.[2] While there are many reasons a person might take their own life, it is clear that economic prosperity and happiness are not necessarily correlated. Therefore, it is important to be grateful for what you do have. Before you go to work every day, close your eyes for two minutes and list the things in life you are grateful for. Then, go out and work toward your goals.

Be Happy for those with Money
Don’t be jealous of others. This is something that also takes time and practice. Make a mental shift in your thinking and continually remind yourself to be happy for other people’s successes. This will not only make you feel better, you will be a much more enjoyable person to be around. Being envious of somebody else does not hurt them, it only hurts you.

Understand that Comparing is Learned
Realize that society has taught you to compare yourself to others. From your parents to your school to your job, you have always been measured side by side to your peers. Being cognizant of this fact can help you identify why you compare. As a result, you can learn to stop being concerned with the lives of others and concentrate on your dreams. Catch yourself when you start getting jealous of somebody else’s financial success.

Use Comparison as Motivator
Instead of being jealous, use the success of others to motivate you. Continue to be grateful for what you have; continue to be happy for those who have more financial success. Then, motivate yourself to also find a way to improve your financial situation. Make financial goals with deadlines and work toward them. Study what successful people have done and emulate them.

Help Others
To help you get out of your head and appreciate the achievements in your life, go out and help other people. Donate your time or money to a worthy cause you believe in. This will help build self-esteem because you are doing something good for somebody else without looking for something in return.

Works Cited
[1] USA Today
[2] AFSP

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