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KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES (REWIND)

Broke Piggy Bank

Originally posted - April 14, 2009

“KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES”

Ever heard the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses”?

In the materialistic world we live in today, many people feel they are less if they don’t have more.  Success tends to be measured by your stuff instead of your dreams.  Wikipedia states, “To fail to "keep up with the Joneses" is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority”.

Why do people care so much about what other people think?  Is it pride?  Specifically, why do people who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ live in the same financial bondage as the people of this world?

I see people my age living in mansions they can’t afford, driving cars they can’t afford, running up credit card debt to buy “things” and they still don’t seem to be any happier… if anything, more stressed!  Some people don’t seem to grasp the idea of living within your means.  If you can’t pay cash for it, you don’t really need it…for the most part.  It’s not a blessing if you’re paying interest on it… ouch … it’s actually a curse in the majority of cases.  Also, when you sacrifice and go without sometimes, it makes you appreciate, respect and recognize the blessings you do receive.

As a university educated adult, I recognize the importance of investing wisely.  I don’t believe it’s a wise investment if you: can barely make your bills, can’t pay tithe’s and offerings, have to live at work and take on extra jobs to make ends meet, neglect your family and other relationships, ask for handouts, or lose the ability to serve freely as God calls you to without your financial commitments (bondage) holding you back.

Some things might require investing some interest such as house or school loans (investing in your future) but you must be reasonable and live within your means.  You don’t need a $250,000 house when you have the budget of a $30,000-$80,000 fixer-upper or trailer regardless of what the bank tells you.  You don’t need a $15,000-$40,000 vehicle when a thousand dollar used vehicle is just as economical and cheaper in maintenance and fees.  Many young people try to live a lifestyle comparable to their parents and don’t realize that it took their parents 30-50 years of hard work to get to that point of financial freedom (if applicable).

I’m not a big fan of handouts!  Work ethic is important to me.  I’ve been working since before the age of 10 and I’ve never had to ask for handouts… or received any.  I put myself through college through scholarship, work and loans (almost done paying for the loans @ 1.3% interest), Sara also mostly put herself through college with earned scholarships, work and loans that are paid off, we hold the title to three old vehicles that are paid for but not cutting edge, we own an old 1945 fixer-upper farm house with lots of land that will be paid for in 2 years, we own the titles to two timeshare properties that have tripled in value, we give away an average of 20% of our gross income (tithes and offerings) joyfully and we enjoy life to the fullest through vacations, traveling, concerts, events, and blessing others.  We are able to do these things because we set a budget, buy things as we can pay cash for them in full, we don’t try to “keep up with the Joneses”, humbly eat peanut butter and jelly sometimes so we can go to Sizzler later, and we are faithful to God as we stay away from financial bondage to the best of our abilities.

The funny thing is that people (including some of our close friends and family) sometimes treat us as if we’re poor or lower status than they are because our “stuff” isn’t as nice as theirs.  We are actually happier than we’ve ever been, we’re two years away from being completely debt free, we truly appreciate the small blessings that others take for granted, and we look forward to having those “nice” things as God chooses to bless us.  We have an almost perfect credit score and an endless supply of credit but more credit doesn’t fit a realistic budget at this time for us.  If He wants us to be where we are, then we’ll be content, if He blesses us with more, then we’ll be even more appreciative!

A few Bible verses to solidify my stance:

-Job 22:21 “Submit to God and be at peace.  Thereby prosperity will come to you.”

-Proverbs 22:2 “The rich and the poor have this one thing in common, the Lord is the maker of them all.”

-Phil 4:11-12 “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

-1 Tim 6:6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

-1 Tim 6:8 “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”

-Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

-Matt 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

I challenge you to examine your situation today.  Don’t make a future ignorant financial decision that will haunt you.  Sell all your “stuff” if necessary to get out from the grips of death (spiritually speaking).  Do whatever it takes to get out of financial bondage and stay out.  If it was easy, everybody would do it!  Be different!

Disclaimer – To all my friends with the last name of “Jones”, rate your standings based on your own situation and don’t get caught up in living to the hype of the name!

P.S.  “If you live frugal often, you can lavishly spend on occasion without regret”- Michael Thorsby

Comments

I love those verses in Philippians but it seems as though they and the following verse are often viewed as separate concepts. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The secret to being content in any and every situation is the fact that Christ will strengthen you for whatever situation you are called to go through. The catch to "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" is --- Can you do those things AND be content/settled/at peace concerning them?
 

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