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Keeping The Joneses Down: How Envy Can Hurt the Economy and Your Financial Picture

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Personal finance adherents know about the danger of keeping up with the Joneses. It relates to people competing with each other to have the nicest, newest, biggest, baddest, stuff on the block.

It’s a pretty accurate description.

Ever take a walk around your neighborhood and notice a new car–and, then suddenly, there’s another new one? And another. And another.

This type of financial one-up-manship leads to high debt in the struggle to gain high self-esteem.

But there’s another negative way we handle those damn Joneses. We try to keep the Joneses down.

Driven mostly by envy, people can turn negative on someone who’s run into a bit of financial luck. Suddenly, the Joneses are the victims of the cold shoulder and quite often a few catty remarks.

(I can take this a step further and suggest that our whole tax system is based on keeping the Joneses down.)

Is that any better than a game of one-upping?

It certainly doesn’t help the hater. That negativity can close opportunities. And it doesn’t help the economy. Dragging down people as they seek more success leads to mediocrity and stagnation.

So the next time you see a new car on the block, tell your neighbor how much you love the smell of a a new car. It’s the sweet smell of success.

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  1. April 15th, 2010 at 18:56 | #1

    Good stuff mate. One time I finally revealed to my friend of 8 years how much I made one year, after his CONSTANT badgering. Guess what? A year afterwards, he doesn’t want to hang out anymore. He is consumed by envy.
    This is why I will never tell anybody how much I make ever again.

  2. April 16th, 2010 at 01:25 | #2

    That’s a perfect example of what I was trying to get across.
    That’s almost a Seinfeld, like when Kramer asks to see Jerry’s check from a gig at Atlantic City and says they can’t hang out anymore.
    Funny. But kinda sad.

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