Forget the Joneses

Forget the Joneses

If you are wondering why you have less wealth than you should it could be because you are too busy trying to keep up with the Joneses.

In a previously lifetime you only had to keep up with the Joneses that were next door or a relative you competed against.

Now? Well, we all have 50 Billion friends on Facebook and Instagram so we now need to impress 50 Billion and that takes effort. A lot of effort. And a lot more money too.

Since 2010, keeping up was not a problem. House prices have been on the up and interest rates were down. This made us all gooey and warm like a chocolate cake.

But things have changed. Interest rates are up, and we have been told that a housing crash is on the way. And this makes us feel like stale vanilla cake.

This has made some people a bit upset. Especially those Facebookists and Instagramists. It could be a bit of a disaster for them not being able to show off their latest 007 watch or $2,000 set of heels.

Now if you can afford a yacht the interest rate hike is not going to be a big issue. But for us minnows who spend much on clothing (not me), gadgets (not me), cars (definitely me) and travel (oh yeah bring it on) we think it will bring happiness even though we know it will not.

I say this to all my clients. People spend with you not because they need to but because emotionally, they want to. It is the reason we have small, medium and large coffee at coffee shops.

I have spoken to people who say they cannot survive unless they have a large coffee. But ask them when they last went to visit their mother did they get offered a large coffee or was it whatever sized cup she had at the time. We all make excuses about what we ‘’need’’ when if fact we don’t need it at all. They are all ‘’wants’’

We are constantly bombarded by social about sales, offers and sexy spending. And we and our kids are lapping it all up.

But all this does is make us spend which affects our wealth and mental wellbeing.

Most accountants will tell you at this stage to do a budget to manage your spending.

Honestly, that is just bonkers. Even as an accountant I hate them and I can think of much better things to do than sit with a laptop and a spreadsheet calculating how many condoms one will use in a year. Or telling yourself you can only have four Louis Vuitton handbags, not the six you ‘need’.

You can never calculate it all, it is unbelievably boring, and I have never had a client who does year in and year out consistently.

Besides, budgets never work. Never have I come across a time when a budget comes back to reality. Your chances of success are about the same as trying to hammer a nail using your fist. Pointless. Painful too.

So, don’t spend time working on something that will probably end up being wrong.

The alternative?

Discipline and separation of money. Sounds just as painful but it is not. What does discipline and separation mean?

It means you separate your income as soon as you receive it.

So, let’s say you have personal income of approximately $10,000 a month gross. This equates to about $7,344 in your bank account after taxes You should be able to take a minimum 20% of that ($1,468) and put it away immediately, either in a separate bank account or straight into investments.

You then take out the necessities – rent, rates, mortgage, electricity etc – say that is $3,000.

You can do whatever you want with the remaining $2,876. I don’t really care what. If you want a butler, then get one. If you want to eat out daily then do that, but don’t complain if you start taking the shape of a pear.

I don’t want to be the boring grey accountant who tells you off for enjoying your life. You work hard to make money, so spend it. Besides I cannot talk. I have a few cars that will do nothing but cost me money and endless trips to the garage.

I just don’t want you to spend all of your money.

But if you happen to still struggle it usually means you have a spending issue. How do your correct that?

  • Stop using Credit cards and Switch to Debit cards

I don’t have any personal credit cards. Just debit cards.

When you use debit cards you only spend what you have in your bank account. You can’t overspend and it has been proven that those with debit cards spend less than those with credit cards.

Debit cards means you can’t spend what you don’t have which limits late payment and interest costs

Now I know what you are thinking. What about all those points I will lose?

The points are crap. Recently I calculated that in order to get 2 return flights to the UK on points meant spending the equivalent of $400,000 on your credit card. Trust me there is a reason why points on credit cards are offered – and they have nothing to do with your financial wellbeing.

  • Avoid Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL)

This is very popular with the younger generation.

The problem?

It is easy to build up a large debt without realising it and if not managed well, it can affect your credit score and future borrowing capacity.

And then if you happen to miss a payment then suddenly the late payment charges hit and they can be quite nasty.


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