3 Lessons from the “Joneses”

Posted by Steph Perine on Dec 31, 2018

Around the holidays it’s not uncommon to find yourself trying to “keep up with the Joneses.” From Christmas lights to holiday parties, gift giving and other activities, it’s hard to watch the festivities without trying to compete. This can lead to more spending and stress on your finances.

There’s a healthier way to keep up with the Joneses. The holidays are a richer experience when we use them as an opportunity to improve ourselves. Here’s what you can do to keep up with your neighbors and friends in a way that is healthy for your spirit and your pocket book.

1. Pick the right Joneses, and use them as motivation.

Don’t look to the neighbors who have the brightest holiday lights or the biggest presents as your model. Look to the Joneses who are enjoying a modest holiday celebration with their closest family and cherished loved ones. Here’s how they’re saving money:

Keep Family Gatherings Intimate. Big parties can be fun, but they can also be a drain on your finances. Intimate gatherings are more practical, easier to pull off, and often more meaningful. When planning your gathering, invite others to participate in the making of the food. Ask each family to bring a dish, so you can sample one another’s favorite dishes and bond over holiday treats.

Holiday budget-1

Re-use Holiday Decorations From Years Past. Buying more exterior decorations every year can get costly. The more lights you plug in, the more energy you’ll use. Save money on your utilities and power by re-using the same holiday decorations you’ve enjoyed for years.

Set a Budget, Stick to It.How much can you afford to spend on each person in your family? Set a budget for each person. Keep the amount low. It’s more important to buy something thoughtful than it is to shower your loved ones in expensive presents.

Invest Time, Not Money. Show your family that you may not have a lot of money to give, but you do have time and you will be generous with it. Your family will know you love them by the way you treat them. Make them cookies, give them hugs, spend time talking at your meals and reflect together on the good things that you’ve experienced in the last year.

2. Be grateful for what you have.holiday family-1

Watch after neighbors who are content with their lives as they are, and are not constantly striving to buy more. Keep feelings of envy at bay by appreciating what you have. Do you have heat when it’s cold? A warm bed to sleep in? A loving family? Take an inventory of your blessings. Write down one thing each day that you’re grateful for, whether it’s a person in your life, an item you own, experiences or memories made or even a feeling of security.

Keep your written notes of gratitude in a jar. To remind yourself of your gratitude, pick out each note and look at them when you’re feeling pressure during the holiday season.

3. Pick up some side hustle. Learn from your neighbors who have side jobs to help them pay off bills. How are they integrating their second job into their lifestyle?Cash in Pocket-1 How much money is it bringing in? Does it improve their quality of life? What skills could you learn to help you earn extra money? You may not be able to replicate what your neighbors are doing, but you probably have a skill that you could hone to boost your income. Talk to neighbors who make things to sell, provide services for others or have a talent that other people will pay to utilize.

Also, don’t forget to give back.  As you learn lessons from neighbors and loved ones this holiday season, don’t forget that you could be someone else’s “Joneses.” Set a good example for those who are struggling with financial hardship. Help them realize that everyone has challenges. Offer to help them improve their situation, either by showing them what you’ve learned from others, or by donating your time to help them make the most of what they have