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5 Ways to Ignore the Joneses

ignore the JonesesClose your eyes for a moment, and picture in your mind a millionaire. What is she driving? What is he wearing? Where does this millionaire live? If you’re anything like the average person, you probably pictured someone with the following accessories and possessions:

  • Rolex watch
  • Fancy Italian suit
  • Expensive sports car
  • Mansion on “millionaire lane”

This is what I used to picture too, but in actuality, it’s a far cry from what an actual millionaire looks like. According to the late Thomas Stanley in “The Millionaire Next Door“, the typical millionaire doesn’t give a rip about what you think about him, so he certainly wouldn’t be buying a fancy sports car or a new Rolex to impress you. Not to mention the fact that these items would severely decrease in value over time, and would definitely not benefit his financial status.

Instead of looking flashy in the latest styles, gadgets, or automobiles, the typical millionaire would rather wear and drive cheaper, plain items in order to accumulate wealth more effectively. Most importantly, wealthy people ignore the Joneses because they know that spending a bunch of money on “stuff” won’t make them wealthy. That’s a fools game that never turns out well (Spam for dinner anyone??).

How to Ignore the Joneses

It seems to be in our nature to want more in this life. Perhaps we realize that life is short and we just want to experience everything before we die. Or maybe we’re all incredibly insecure and want everyone to be envious of us, so we therefore buy up everything that others want so we can build ourselves up in the process. Others of us might be extremely envious. We see someone having fun with something and we end up wanting it so badly ourselves! Whatever the case may be, we all know deep down that having a bunch of stuff won’t make us happy.

Still can’t seem to ignore the Joneses? Here are five remedies that might just cure you of that envy to want what they have.

ignore the Joneses1) Live in the Country

We have all heard the idiom, “out of sight, out of mind“, and I believe that it pertains beautifully to this situation of ignoring the Joneses. If you woke up every morning, looked out your bedroom window, and saw your neighbor’s brand new ski boat every single day, what do you think that would ultimately make you want to do? I don’t know about you, but after a few weeks, I’d be pretty interested in buying a ski boat! What if I lived far away from anyone that cared about ski boats? Then I probably wouldn’t ever want one. That’s just how our stinkin mind works.

If you live out in the country, this will do two things for you. First of all, it will put some space between you and your neighbors, so you won’t be able to see a bunch of cool stuff that you might want every single moment of the day. Secondly, people in the country are often much more mellow and relaxed. They aren’t all about running out and buying the latest gadget. Instead, they’d rather walk around their property and fix up a junker car or simply enjoy the day that they’ve been given.

Live in the country and you’ll find that it’s quite a bit easier to ignore the Joneses.

2) Make Friends with Simple People

If your friends constantly want to go shopping or hit the clubs every night, then you’re probably not going to become wealthy. If they are encouraging you to buy a big expensive house, then I would ditch those friends immediately. People that like to spend money every day on worthless garbage and non wealthy producing assets are trying to keep up with the Joneses themselves. If you find yourself around these people, then you’ll soon be doing the same thing.

If you want to grow wealthy by ignoring the Joneses, then you need to find like-minded, simple people to hang out with. These are people that don’t aspire to live in a large mansion or wear the latest fashions. Instead, they would rather live well below their means and invest their extra money in their future. With these friends, you have a much better chance to ignore the Joneses.

ignore the Joneses3) Discover that Stuff Won’t Make You Happy

While I always told myself (and others) that stuff wouldn’t make me happy, I didn’t truly believe this until just recently. I mean, who wouldn’t want a huge mansion and a Ferrari in front of it? Last year, I was focused on paying off all my debts so that I could get extremely wealthy. To do this, I lived more frugally than you could imagine, and through it I discovered that the more luxuries I deprived myself of, the happier I got. I know it seems odd, but stick with me on this one.

I drive a $2,500 Honda Civic, which I love, but last June I decided to drive it as little as possible and instead ride my bicycle. I rode that bike everywhere – to work, to the grocery store, to my parents’ cottage. At first, it was an annoyance. I had to wake up much earlier to get to work, I needed to shower more often, and my legs got pretty sore. But near the middle of June, I found myself getting lost in the beauty of creation as I rode. Things that I never before would have noticed were now jumping out at me:

  • the many different shades of green on the surrounding leaves
  • the beauty of the simple blue sky on a sunny day
  • the many different animals that live among us each and every day

Beyond this, I now had an immense satisfaction in myself and how self-sufficient I could be. During that month of June, I bought something that was 20 miles away. Instead of hopping in my car or getting a ride from someone, I just planted myself on the seat of my bike and got it myself. It is truly amazing what the body can do when you use it every day as intended.

I’ve obviously been without stuff, but I have had stuff in my life as well. Expensive toys and houses are cool at first, but after a few weeks they lose their luster and become pretty meaningless again. At one time, I owned a pretty nice Nissan Altima with keyless entry and a push-button start. It was an awesome car and I was always jazzed to drive it….until about the 2 week mark. That’s when I realized that it was just a car that pretty much did nothing differently than any other car. So, I sold it and started driving my used Honda again.

Don’t believe me about that cool car losing it’s appeal? Try me. Go rent a car for two weeks and let me know if you are as excited about it at the 14 day mark as you were on day one.

ignore the joneses4) Think About the Debt of the Joneses

Your friend’s car might look pretty cool, but I bet he’s got some pretty hefty payments that came with it.

The average car loan is $27,430. It’s becoming so common to have a loan on a car that people are no longer asking what the car costs in total, but instead ask, “How much do you pay per month?” Tack on a decent sized house and credit card debt, and the average person has a debt load of $225,238. Now, think about the above average person (ie. the Joneses). Wouldn’t you think that they are further in debt than the typical person?

Instead of an average domestic car, they needed to have the new BMW. And, instead of the house in an average neighborhood, they had to live in that special subdivision that’s loaded with doctors and lawyers. The Joneses are deeply in debt, with little hope of getting out during their lifetime. It’s best not to envy their stuff (that they bought on credit). Instead, just shake your head at their poor choices during their lifetime.

5) Remind Yourself of the Less Fortunate

In terms of social status, instead of constantly looking up the rungs of the ladder at those that seemingly have far more than anyone else, why not look down in order to gain an understanding of how much you really have?

If you live in America or Europe, you likely have a large selections of clothes, you own a smartphone, and you probably drive around in your very own car as well. Do you realize how fortunate you are just to have these things? You have instant access to the news of the world in your pocket, you can drive for hundreds of miles and go wherever you please, but yet there are still billions of people in this world that don’t own a toilet. Put THAT into perspective.

Even if you feel like the Joneses have everything and you have nothing, you still probably have far more than those living in poverty. Want to ignore the Joneses? Then volunteer some of your time to help the needy. The more you understand their situation, the more likely it will be that you’ll want to give instead of take, and that’s when one becomes truly happy.

Do you ignore the Joneses currently? Or are you still chasing them full-steam ahead?

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My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. I love The Millionaire Next Door. It is one of my favorite books. I’m sure most people on our little street of duplexes have no clue how much money we have and I have no desire to inform them. We are building a new home in an upscale subdivision but we will pay cash once our current home is sold. I suspect we will be the black sheep of the neighborhood since so many are doctors and lawyers etc. and we are simple retired folk.;)

    • Ha, yeah. I’m just waiting for the day when someone asks me what my house payment is. Uhhhhh…. I don’t have one? Ha, that could raise an eyebrow or two, but maybe it would actually inspire someone!

  2. I just try to tell myself that no matter how much I have, there’s always someone with more, and that to try to focus on that is meaningless. Instead, focus on what you have and making your life happy with that around you.

    • Yup, great point MB. There’s always somebody that will have more than you, but I don’t think there are a ton of people out there that strive to have so much more than everyone else – they just want to keep up! But, is there really a purpose in keeping up? No, not really.

  3. Awesome list.

    It’s so much easier to just make the choices that everyone else is making… whether you can afford them or not… or wether you want them or not. It’s amazing when you strip away all the distractions you realize how little that you actually need to be completely happy.
    And you’re totally right… #5… I used to think of myself of as poor, until I gave my head a shake and realized how much I actually had, incredibly rich, incredibly blessed… and not even close to poor.

    • Exactly. I own a car, house, clothing, more food than I can eat in a week…. I have so much. Life is good.

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