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Meet the Real Joneses

“Oh man, I wish I had a new BMW.”

“Whoa, what it must feel like to own a yacht like that. I’d be on top of the world!”

“That house…is simply….gorgeous. I hope I can buy a house like that someday.”

We catch ourselves wishing, hoping, wanting like this from time to time. Basically, we’re saying, “I wish that we were the Joneses. Life would be so much more fun and full of constant bliss… Those Joneses are always so happy!

But you might want to be careful what you wish for…

Meet the Real JonesesMeet the Real Joneses

Brace yourself… but the real Joneses….are BROKE!

Sure, they’ve got all the nice stuff:

  • the cars,
  • the boat,
  • the massive house,
  • the cottage up at the lake, and
  • the 2.1 kids with perfect hair.

BUT…their life is a ticking timebomb! At any given moment, all their cards could come crashing down and they’ll lose it all. All it takes is one medical bill, one job loss, one little accident, and they’ll be ruined.

Who Are The Joneses?

Take a walk outside a second and count 10 houses in your neighborhood. According to, 7 of those 10 households are broke – living paycheck to paycheck. Sure, they might have some money in their 401(k), and they might even have some equity built up in their house, but…

  • their bills are out of control (equaling or exceeding their monthly income),
  • and they have absolutely no emergency fund to speak of.

If something happened (and by the way, that something – that unexpected emergency – will happen to all of us at some point in our lives), they wouldn’t be able to come up with even $1,000 to cover the bill.

So what do they do? They borrow from their 401(k) (because that’s what wise people do… (eye roll…)) or from their credit card, and the debt-load plunges deeper, while the house of cards stacks higher and higher.

Sure, the Joneses have all the toys and look great from the outside, but let’s take a look at their hidden secrets. Let’s dig beneath that perfect display that they put on for the world. What’s their life really like?

Car Loans

The average car loan: $31,000

The average car payment: $479/month

If you see a brand new car rolling down the road, don’t think, “I wish I had that.” Instead, picture their loan amount hovering over their car in red, weighing them down each and every month as they shell out nearly $500 on their precious car payment.

I used to be impressed with BMW’s. Today, I just shake my head at the owners, knowing that 85% or more of them took out massive loans just to look the part. Now that’s pretty sad.

Home Mortgage

The average home mortgage: $309,200, a 30-year fixed loan

The average mortgage payment: $1,494/month

$309,000… I realize that in some parts of the U.S. this will buy absolutely nothing, but for those of us living in a normal cost-of-living area, this will buy a 5 bedroom, 3 bath home in a pretty freaking nice neighborhood (don’t believe me? Check it out.).

Is this necessary? Not at all.

Is it wise? Not even close.

If a person needs to borrow more than $300,000 for a house…then they really shouldn’t be looking at it in the first place…

Student Loans

The average student loan debt: $37,172

The average student loan payment: $351/month

Ahhh student loans. The thing that everyone needs (supposedly), but all end up regretting once they get hit with the bill after graduation. The Joneses are no exception. In fact, the Joneses probably have a little bit more debt since they went to a more prestigious school for a “better degree”.

Credit Cards

The average credit card debt: $16,061

The average credit card payment: $400

“Why the heck would the Joneses borrow $16,000 at 18%? I thought they had money!” …Well, they did, until they borrowed crazy amounts for their student loans, their house, and their cars! Then, a couple emergencies popped up (like new tires on the car and clothes for their kids…ie. not real emergencies), so they “were forced” to use their credit cards… but no worries, they’re certain they’ll pay off the balance next month…but then that next “emergency” happens and they never do.

Live Like the Joneses? No Thanks!!

Alright, so let’s get this straight. Everyone wishes they were the Joneses…mainly because they want the wicked awesome house, the shiny cars, and the unforgettable weekend boating trips. What they seem to forget about is all the horrific debt that the Joneses load themselves up with.

Let’s tally it up:

  • Car debt: $31,000
  • Mortgage debt: $309,200
  • Student loan debt: $37,172
  • Credit card debt: $16,061

Drum-roll please….

The total debt of the Joneses is $393,433, with monthly payments of $2,724 every. single. month.

Do you feel that lump in your throat? The stress you feel just by hearing that number? How would you like to live that each and every day for the rest of your life?? That’s what the Joneses do.

And quite honestly, since we’re taking the average AND we’re assuming they have only one car loan and one student loan debt, this is probably a pretty low estimate! I’d be willing to bet that the real Joneses out there have a minimum debt load of $500,000.

Are you sure you still want to be the Joneses? I sure don’t. I’d rather be me, living in my completely paid-for 3 bedroom, 2 bath house with absolutely no debt, and therefore no payments to anyone!

How about you? After learning about the real Joneses, which life would you pick? Yours or theirs?

Battle of the Mind Money


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’ll take our life any day over a “Jones Life”, thank you very much 😉

    After reading The Millionaire Next Door shortly after college, I was sold on living a very un-Jones life… saving my money and creating stealth wealth for our future. The decision has freed my husband and I from so many distractions or stresses in life.

    Crappy cars? Great! I’m happy with it as long is at runs (most of the time).

    You don’t have the newest style clothing? Pfft, whoever said I was stylish in the first place?

    Where is your mansion? No thank you, I hate cleaning, so I don’t want to buy a bigger house.

    • Ditto to all of that! Thanks for the comment, Mrs. AR!

  2. Great post. Sure sheds some light on the average financial positions.

    So glad that I’m not one of the Joneses or somebody trying to keep up with them. 🙂

    • Nobody should want to be the Joneses! That’s for sure! Thanks for the comment, Shin.

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