J is the Joy of not keeping up with the Joneses

J is the Joy of not keeping up with the Joneses
Personal Finance from A to Z
Eileen St. Pierre, The Everyday Financial Planner

I’d like to think of myself as an independent soul, someone who is not afraid to follow her own path. What do others think of me? To be honest, I don’t really think of this question. The trouble with trying to keep up with the Joneses when it comes to your personal finances is that the Joneses do not have to deal with the consequences of your decisions. You really find out who your friends are when you get into some trouble.

Here are my top 4 joys of not following the Joneses:

JLiving within our means

We only buy things when we need them. Having the latest and greatest gadget is not important to us.

  • My husband and I share a cell phone – a flip phone with the Cingular man still on it. AT&T bought Cingular a while ago but we really like our plan so we don’t want to upgrade our phone until we have to (or technology forces us to).  Our current plan is no longer offered to new subscribers.
  • After 20 years of loyal service, we finally had to replace our 1994 Chevy Blazer with a 2014 Chevy Cruze. We get better gas mileage but still have enough space for everything we take on our road trips.

Having very little debt

At this point in our lives, we find renting a better option than owning a home. I travel a lot so it makes more sense to free ourselves from home and yard maintenance. We used to get some flack from some family and friends about why we didn’t buy a home, but their tunes changed after the housing market collapsed in 2008. We have owned homes in the past.

  • Because it was not important to us to live in the best neighborhood in town, we had manageable mortgage payments.
  • We either took out a 15-year mortgage or made extra payments on a 30-year mortgage. This helped our equity position to grow faster, giving us a larger capital gain when we sold the home.

Even though we use our Discover card as much as we can, we pay the balance off in full each month. We get restaurant gift cards with our Cashback bonus – our little reward to ourselves.

Having an adequate emergency savings fund

Because we don’t need the latest and greatest, we have enough savings to weather a financial storm or two that comes our way. This makes life much less stressful, which in turn makes us happier people. Enough said.

Flexibility along the road of life

I think this is my greatest joy of not following the Joneses. It has always been hard for me to do one job for my entire life. I find it challenging and exciting to learn new things and meet new people. While I cannot say my husband and I are financially independent, we are financially secure because we make sound and independent financial decisions. This allows us to take risks along the road of life. Not everything turns out the way we plan it, but it sure makes for some great stories.

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