I’m Cool With “The Joneses” Looking More Successful

Image matters to all of us, to some degree.  If anybody says that they genuinely don’t care about what other people think about them, on any dimension for any reason – I won’t believe it.  We all care a little bit about what others think about us, at least for some things.

For each of us, that could mean different things.  Some people want to appear better looking than others.  Others want to be seen as funnier.  Some want to be seen as nicer, or of better character.  To a lot of people, being more “well traveled” is something they really want to be know for.  Yet others really want to appear more financially successful.

That latter group is one which I’ve tried to distance myself from.  Not in the sense of disassociating with such people, because that’s not the case.  Just because someone is competitive in that way, it doesn’t mean that they are bad people in any way.

Rather, what I mean is that I’ve tried to become less and less like that.

For one thing, there are some people I know who have truly become very successful financially, and now have more means than me.  Trying to worry about keeping up with them would just get me to spend more money that I should.  If I spend that money, then I’d be keeping up appearances and would be even.  However, I’d be paying the financial price for it.  These people aren’t overly materialistic anyway.

There are also folks who simply don’t have the means to buy some things they do, but they buy them anyway.  These people, in contrast to those who I mentioned above, are materialistic.  They desperately want to appear successful, and will spend their money to keep up an image.  They are always mentioning new things they bought, and you can see their desire to feel important just dripping from their mouths as they speak.  It doesn’t make sense to spend money to “compete” with such people.

To me, what’s most important is living within my means, having a chance to retire someday, and Januarybe achieve a financial freedom goal - at least to some degree.

Along those lines, I don’t think it matters too much how other people perceive us financially.  If someone thinks you’re moderately successful but not have not achieved great success, is that a problem? Not for me.

I’d rather fly under the radar :)

Readers, how much does it matter to you how successful others think you are? Do you ever get motivated to buy things to keep up with others (and thus keep appearances), or would you rather deliberately stay low key?

9 thoughts on “I’m Cool With “The Joneses” Looking More Successful

  1. [email protected]

    It doesn’t matter to us from a financial point of view. Although many probably think we are financialy successful as we have a nice house in an expensive area. But it really doesn’t matter.

    What matters is who you are, how much you care for your fellow citizen and how much you make them feel worth while.

    But you can’t satisfy everyone.

    1. Post author

      Maria – well said. There are other things that matter beyond how much we have or what others think we have, and we sure can’t please everyone. The thing is, we don’t even have to!

  2. Edward Antrobus

    I could care less what others think of my possessions. That’s why we are still driving around a car that has one side dented in from an accident. That’s why we didn’t get a new, big-screen tv until the small tv I’ve had for years finally died. On the flip side, that’s why I pay for tv service even though that seems to be one of the deadly sins of the PF community. :)

    1. Post author

      Edward – kudos to you for your approach. TV at home can be really worth it for a lot of people, so I’ve never bought into the often fierce anti-cable type of approach in some PF circles.

  3. Pauline

    I couldn’t care less about what other people have. I also have to keep a low profile, too much bling can attract the eye and in Guatemala it is not very wise. I prefer to live a normal life, and don’t define rich in terms of possessions.

  4. The First Million is the Hardest

    I don’t get caught up in keeping up with what other people have, but I’m not going to say I don’t care what other people think. We all work hard for the success we’ve achieved and I don’t think wanting to reflect that is necessarily a bad thing. I like to dress nice, drive a nice car etc.. however I do it all within my means. I think that when it gets to the point where you’re projecting a level of success that you haven’t achieved that the problems begin.

    1. Post author

      I think you make a great point about how it can be problematic to project a level of success that hasn’t be earned. Vanity and ego can really be harmful to the pocketbook!

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