Last week I went to visit my daughter who recently moved. It was quite a drive, so I’ve stayed several days and plan to drive back home tomorrow. In the meantime, we’ve been cleaning, painting, and decorating her new place.
Of course, that has meant a few trips to Home Depot, Walmart, and a couple of other stores for supplies. Unfortunately, it’s also meant fighting crowds because we forgot there’d be masses of other people shopping too.
Schools are gearing up for the return of their students which means parents are frantically buying supplies and clothes. Stores are getting busier and checkout lines, longer.
But although part of that spending can’t be helped, some people seem to compete with everyone else with their shopping. These folks think they have to have better backpacks, trendier clothes, and more stylish sneakers for their kids. Otherwise, their kids won’t be the coolest ones when school resumes.
The problem is that when you shop this way it isn’t free or cheap. Competing with the Joneses harms your budget even if you think a few dollars here or there won’t matter.
1. Disregards Frugality
All of these extra’s that you buy for your kids do add up. In fact, they can put you over your normal monthly budget if you didn’t plan ahead for them. What’s more, they totally disregard the concept of frugality.
A better option would be to save ahead, buy on sale, and ignore the Joneses (and anyone else who looks down their nose at your family). Then, use any extra money to pay down debt or invest. You’ll get a much better return on your money.
Furthermore, the “cool” factor of trendy clothes lasts only a short time. When it comes to personal purchases, the same applies. Using your money wisely, on the other hand, has much longer impacts.
2. Causes Overspending
Like I mentioned already, competing with the Joneses causes overspending. If your money’s gone before the month is out, you can’t eat stylish pants or a cute shirt.
Where will you get the money for your bills? You may have to borrow from friends or family. Or, scrimping on groceries might be your choice to adjust your budget. No matter how you handle it, not having enough money is not a fun prospect.
3. Ignores Quality
If you try competing with the Joneses you certainly aren’t paying attention to quality in your purchases. All you’re doing is buying based on current trends in the market.
But the market is usually against you. Stores put the newest movie characters on the cheapest shoes, backpacks, notebooks, and other items on purpose. Then they up the price to make the most money from you.
When it comes to clothing and personal items for adults it’s nearly as bad. College students and adults alike are lured by the popular name brands or what their friends are wearing.
Don’t fall for those retailer’s tricks. Rather than buying what’s trendy, watch for quality. Also, whenever possible, hand down clothes from one child to another. For your own needs, swap clothes with friends and buy only what you need, not what’s cool at the time.
4. Builds Debt
Shopping based on style, rather than need, harms your budget and builds debt. Sure, you and your kids could look like mini celebrities when school starts. But at what price?
Think about what you are giving up with each purchase. Could you have spent less and paid down debt? What about taking a vacation?
Every unnecessary purchase you make takes money from another place you could be using it. Put your money to work for you instead of being a slave to it.
The Bottom Line
The next time you shop, think before you pay. Ask yourself if you’re buying just so you can continue competing with the Joneses. If the answer is yes, rethink that purchase. After all, who cares what the Joneses think anyway?
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Have you been competing with the Joneses and harming your budget without realizing it?