Beyond Keeping Up with the Joneses

When I was growing up “Keeping up with the Joneses” had an air of inevitability and a hint of disdain, as if someone was being excessive and pulling us along. Our culture seems to have gone beyond that level.

we-are-now-part-of-the-shopping-madness warehouse-full-of-stuff-for-us
Our shopping-oriented culture is now beyond compare, with warehouses filled with even more stuff.

Nowadays, many people in North America have more than enough of everything, and the choices for buying are beyond easy comparison.  Style, personal choice and the sheer magnitude of what’s available has changed the landscape and expectations for what any one person might have right now, today, let alone tomorrow.

There was a time when purchasing something was a big deal, and many people went weeks or months between getting something new. It was a time when we got solid use out of what we had, and though we might have dreams of more, we knew we didn’t actually need it.

Today we are lucky to recognize when someone has something new, unless they draw our attention to it.

Instead of an infrequent purchase awareness (“Hey, Joe got a barbeque even nicer than mine”) we now have a frequent and widening haze of purchases as we nod at our friend’s latest purchase and add yet another type of purchase to our busy shopping opportunities.

We have gone from upward to outward – leaving behind us a growing collection of stuff and the ability to really compare what we have to anyone else.

Try-hard action items:

– Please spend more time with friends and family, enjoying what you have.
– And if you can, share things: there can be more joy in sharing than owning.

I would never want someone to go without something vital, but there are many benefits and joys in frugal living.

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