In an age of selfies, like buttons, and Facebook-worthy highlights the desire to keep up with the Joneses has never been worse. Social media has made us more connected and disconnected at the same time. Seeing someone’s latest vacation trip, expensive purchase, or relational highlight doesn’t reflect true reality. Life isn’t always photoshopped and made to look perfect. This false sense of reality can create inadequacy, insecurity, and shame. I find that if I’m on social media for a long period of time, I start to feel that I’m the only one struggling through life and if I am, there’s something wrong with me.
This can lead to increased spending to prove to the world that I’m somebody and that I matter. I feel I have to buy certain brand names, eat at the trendiest places, or listen to the trendiest music to fit in. Life is more than how many followers we have, how hot we look in our selfies, and how rich we appear. There is beauty in the broken, in the ordinary, and in the simple; this can apply to our personal finances.
The concept of living below your means is one of the most important concepts in personal finance. Spend less than you make – seems pretty self-explanatory but actually living that out can be challenging. The only way to know if we spend more than we make is by developing more awareness. More awareness comes from having a budget. According to a 2013 Gallup poll, only one in three Americans prepares a detailed household budget. This is a very eye-opening statistic because it shows most of us in America lack financial awareness. Here are a few reasons why I think people should keep a budget:
1). Increased awareness: If you are aware of why you are spending more than you make, you can then take steps to address the problem.
2). Creates purpose in your finances: In my other post about budgeting, I mentioned that a budget is like a road map to get where you want to go. When you connect your budget to your goals and to your overall values, this transforms budgeting for the sake of budgeting to a means to accomplish your goals and live out your values.
3). Brings stability: Once you spend less than you make and are moving toward your financial goals, it brings a greater sense of stability and peace over your finances which is priceless.
Once you are able to live below your means, you are creating more awareness of your spending habits, providing a plan to accomplish your goals, and bringing stability to your life. Gradually, keeping up with the Joneses doesn’t sound so enticing because you know what you are living for.