Ah the Joneses, how we all hate them. Smug bastards with their 6 bedroom house, BMW, Gucci sunglasses and sit on lawn mower.
|Mr Jones on his ‘mower|
In truth, I’ve never had much of an issue with the Joneses. I let them do their (incorrect) thing and I carry on with mine. Having never been particularly worried about fashion, what car I drive or particularly what other people are up to this lets me crack on with trying to enjoy life.
My 15 year old car gets me from A to B just fine. It also manages to sit in traffic jams exactly the same as your new BMW. And I hate sitting in traffic jams, it makes me feel all Falling Down. So my car does about 500 miles a year.
I’ve never been particularly bothered with getting a promotion at work, being seen to climb to corporate ladder, being seen to do the right things at work or just generally be seen in the office doing more hours than I need to. Not that I don’t work hard but I have refused to ‘play the game’. This has cost me a few promotions, so I’ve been told, but I’m happy clinging onto what little soul I have left, I work in finance don’t you know.
All this success at work seems to translate into being seen to buy nice things. Cars and watches and shoes and fancy meals. I’m not into fancy. I have a watch. I wear shoes. And I eat meals. I don’t compare them to the Joneses though.
Ahhh, the FI Joneses
I may try to keep up with the FI Joneses though. Perhaps it comes with reading around the subject a fair amount and being generally interested in what others are achieving in the Personal Finance blogging world. This can lead to trying to keep up with the savings rates that others are achieving (trying to keep up with FFBF Jones and NMW Jones for example) or trying to save the same absolute amounts as others. Worrying about doing things the ‘right way’.
This is probably a positive thing, after all it should help me to achieve Financial Independence quicker. But it should be an individual thing, there isn’t a simple template that we can all just copy. Spend less and save more, then after that you are on your own. You’ve got to apply what others are doing to your own life.
Just because someone else is capable of saving 75% of their income month on month without going batshit crazy doesn’t mean it’s right for the next person.
Equally active investing might work for some (you loose cannons you) but it won’t work for others. Perhaps they don’t have the right mind set to select the right investments, the wrong temperament to avoid constant trading or waking up sweating in the night with worry or they just don’t have the time or the want to invest that much time into portfolio management.
Chasing a higher income might be interesting to others. And if that keeps them focused, then go for it. Cutting costs might work for others, if revelling in their frugal wizardry and sleeping on a pile of hay to save cash keeps them going then that’s all good.
Each to their own
Many of us suffer from wanting to work towards financial independence the ‘right way’, myself included, trying to follow the paths that were set out by the front runners. Blindly following what MMM did isn’t going to work for us all. A good starting point, perhaps, but something that needs to be tweaked to our own lives and tolerances.
It’s a weird thing, to be in a situation where you are approaching saving and spending so differently to those immediately around you yet still able to compare yourself to a multitude of people looking to achieve a similar thing through the internet. Not caring what the vast majority think about your approach to finances but able to compare your approach to the relatively few FI seeking rebels, whose opinion does mean something on the matter.
I’m enjoy the journey immensely but have to remind myself it’s not a competition or a race. Lest I turn the FI status into the personal finance equivalent of the BMW.