The Real Reason Everyone has More Money than You
I’m writing this from a slightly different tone to my usual money ramblings. I hope that you can find something constructive from this post to help you on your money journey.
Why Everyone has More Money
Your friends are uploading weekly beach pictures, your coworker always has the latest gadgets, and your best friend just moved in with her bae and has bought a new house! How are they able to spend that kind of money when you can barely afford next months rent?
Maybe they’ve come into a lump sum of money, maybe they’re ignoring their crippling debt, maybe their parents are financing their lifestyle. Or maybe they’ve figured out the secret to money….
The secret? You can have anything you want, you just can’t have everything! The regular beach holidays, the house and the fancy gadgets are the instagramable and boast-worthy results of a series of decisions hidden behind closed doors. What we don’t see on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook are the compromises.
The Highlight Reel
You see what your friends/coworkers want you to see. You are seeing the good days, the treats, the once-a-years. You’re seeing the highlight reel. But we care so deeply about our status, especially relative to our peers. We lose self-esteem when we believe that we are below the average of our group. We gain self-esteem from the opportunities we have to show that we are above the average.
“Conspicuous consumption” was originally used to describe how newly wealthy people would buy luxury goods to display their superior economic and social status. However, the conspicuous consumption phenomenon isn’t limited to the wealthy. Take a look at your Instagram or Facebook feed and you’ll see display after display of financial pride.
For some, the existence of constant social gratification can increase their motivation for economic success. That competitive impulse can drive them to work harder, invest more and persevere through difficulties. For the majority, the FOMO (fear of missing out) phenomenon can lead us to waste money on the things that aren’t important and miss out on the things that are.
Behind the Scenes
Do you need that snazzy gym membership? When was the last time you wore that expensive watch? How much happiness will that designer bag really bring to your life? Are you going there, doing this, buying that just for a picture opportunity?
Many of us today have little idea of where our money is going and a nagging anxiety that we should be getting more and spending less. The first behind the scenes work that you need to put in is to start tracking your spending. There are a variety of budgeting tools that will allow you to see the necessities and the non-essentials that you could consider compromising.
It’s then important to consider what’s important to you and set goals based on your values. Defining your financial goals will help you to change your behaviour. Not everyone’s values and goals will be the same. It could be that you believe that a yearly family holiday is important to you, or that you want to buy your own home soon, or that you will pay off your overdraft this year. If you want your goal badly enough, you will cut spending on the stuff that you care less about.
Being mindful about your spending will return your focus to where it should be: your own decisions and your own life, rather than others. If the envy bug bites again, remember that the lavish lifestyles you see on your news feed are just the highlight reel and may not be all they seem.
This is your journey. You are worthy. Things will get easier. Keep going.