Keeping up with the Joneses

  • Author: Rebbeca Espinossa-Fulgham
  • at 12:36 PM -

At some point everyone faces the tribulations of keeping up with the Joneses. Back at Grantham University, my professor used to say, "Keeping up with the Joneses" is an idiom referring to the comparison to one's neighbor as a benchmark for our social-cast system or the accumulation of material goods. To fail to "keep up with the Joneses" is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority.”

Maybe I should have said, “Keeping up with the Kardashians”?

The philosophy of "keeping up with the Joneses" seems to have a widespread effect on our American society. What I am referring to is conspicuous consumption. People seem to care more about their standard of living in relation to their peers, than they do about achieving sustainable stability.

Although I realized this at an early age, I often feel depressed when I can’t exhibit as much meaningless clout in assets as my neighbors. Although I can force myself to constrain my consumer preoccupation with relative social standing and prestige, I still get anxious when my neighbor shows me her new $700 Gucci purse or $80k sports car.

Social status once depended on one's family name. However in today’s society, the rise of consumerism in the United States has given rise to social mobility. With the increasing availability of goods; people are more inclined to define themselves by what they can possess than by their pedigree.

Conspicuous consumption and are an insatiable juggernaut in our modern times. The reality is almost half of America—127.5 million people—are liquid-asset poor and may not even realize it, according to the Huffington Post. Being liquid-asset poor basically means you are living with a decent income yet with little savings or an emergency fund, so one major financial blow such as a medical emergency or layoff would leave you financially devastated and, in a matter of months, joining the 46 million Americans living at or below the poverty line.

Surprisingly, at a time when half of us are just one paycheck away from financial devastation, we’re also spending more on luxuries. Everywhere, there are signs of Americans’ increasing taste for luxury spending: luxury shoppes are thriving, while discount retailers like Sears and Kmart close down. In a recent survey, more consumers were found to be planning to spend for luxury vehicles plastic surgery, lavish jewelry, designer clothes and accessories, exotic vacations or other premium luxury spending.

Perhaps we are living in sort of a schizophrenic economy? I just hope enough of us will focus on long term goals that will help build true wealth and a stable economy… like focusing on higher education and living within our means. When my dad was alive, he used to say that if you view your car's fuel gauge reading, when it says ½ full, as empty; you will never run out of gas. There is a lot of truth to that.

Keeping up with the Joneses
Half Full? or Empty?

But for those of you with little will-power, fear not. I have finally discovered a reasonable way to become the envy of your neighborhood on a budget!

I started writing this post because my neighbor left his garage door open last month. I presume he did so to show off his new glider plane. He has since become the status trend setter in our small community. Several of my neighbors are now considering a similar purchase.

I tried to reach Kim Kardashian for advice, but she wasn’t answering her phone. So I did a bit of research on Google and came up with the following solution. The below picture is a picture of my garage this morning.

Yes, from the street, it appears that I have acquired a fully restored Red Baron Biplane! At a mere 1.2 million, I highly suggest you considering one. I am now the talk of my neighborhood. I made sure to leave my garage door up when my neighbors were heading out to run some errands. They actually did several U-turns and crept by to examine my status acquisition.

In reality, it is a realistic super-sized vinyl decal. But from the street, it looks extremely realistic. Because we are friends, I am going to share with you where I purchased it:  (But don't tell my neighbors!)

I think next month I am going to buy a tropical view for my bedroom! What do you think of this?



Written by

Becky works in the health sciences industry and spends most of her professional work day in the research and development laboratory working on applied solutions for health and wellness. Becky is an avant supporter of her alma mater Grantham University. In her free time she writes articles for the Grantham University Fan Club site and volunteers at the local Chicago suburb elementary school where her children attend. Her motto is, “Changing the world, one smile at a time!”