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“Oh you are SO lucky, you must be rich!”

by J. Money on Wednesday, February 27, 2013

money cake

Got this email from a friend in response to my post on upgrades I’d make if I were rich, and it’s something I bet a lot of us can appreciate. No one likes a complainer who doesn’t want to do anything about their situation! Like all those people who bitch about politics but then never vote or take any action. Do you expect your complaints will solve the world’s problems??? Haha…

But this isn’t a political rant, it’s a “make wiser choices” one. Something, it seems, our good friend here needed to get off her chest before she explodes ;) Please to enjoy:

Though I’m certainly no Mark Zuckerberg, I’m light years ahead of most of my peers when it comes to finances and education. I don’t say that snobbishly but rather– confidently. People who observe my life and the awesome things I do (like travel outside the US every year) say — Oh you are SO lucky, you must be rich!

There’s a whole more to it than that, though. Ultimately it’s about choices. What frustrates me most about people my age is that they spend their money frivolously on stuff that doesn’t really matter in the end. In my opinion, if you do that –  then it’s your own fault you don’t have more money! Harsh but true. $30 manicures 2-3x a month and eating out 4-5x a week? If that’s your choice, fine, but don’t come crying to me saying you have no money to travel or do anything else — well, what do you think?

I create a budget, and stick to it — and often times, I go under budget. I base it on how much money I make a month and not the value of everything else I have (such as assets). Everybody’s situation is different which is why my budget probably wouldn’t work for you or anyone else. I am EXTREMELY frugal, and I really think that that’s part of why I do rather well financially. My secret is that I identify things/activities I like and then try to find ways to get it for free.

For example, I love coffee and I love hanging out at coffee shops. So, I got a job at Starbucks. Now, even when I’m just hanging out my friends give me coffee and I get a pound of free coffee a week. Even though I don’t make a whole lot — still, that’s money in my pocket just from savings alone, and trust me when I say coffee makes up a pretty big chunk of my monthly spending.

Sorry for the little rant here but this stuff’s really been on my mind lately. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I know I am more disciplined than most but this isn’t rocket science!

Preach on, sista! I love me some people who are passionate about things- especially when it’s to do with money :) The reality is that personal finance in itself isn’t that hard: You spend less than you make and you’re golden. It’s not of course always so black and white, nor is it EASY to follow for that matter, but in the end it does come down to simple mathematics and prioritizing. If you want to accomplish/buy X, you tweak your financial situation to get closer to X. If you decide to spend it on other things instead, then you’ll end up at Y or Z because you changed your own track.

There’s no right or wrong answers as far as which tracks you end up taking, but it should lead to those which make you happiest. It’s ANNOYING, however, when people complain about their situations as if there’s nothing they can do about changing it. Errr! (<– buzzer). That’s dead wrong. It may not be easy, fun, exciting to change your future paths, but it  is almost always do-able. So either live with the way things currently are and keep those comments to yourself, or get out there and start working towards that better life! You can’t have your money cake and eat it too (BAM).

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Take a number and leave your thoughts below ;)

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Photo by waferboard / Tweaked by J$


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{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

1 My Financial Independence Journey February 27, 2013 at 5:49 am

I occasionally hear friends or coworkers complain about their finances. Well, let’s look at their choices…

How about that insane one hour + tolls one way commute?
Do you really need to buy that much crap off of kickstarter?
You barely have time to watch TV, why are you spending $150/month on cable?
Did you (a couple) need to buy a house for a family of 10?

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2 Edward Antrobus February 27, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Too be far, the commute isn’t always controllable. One of my coworkers lives out in the country where property taxes are a third of where they are here or down in Denver. Depending on the job site, it would take her between 40 minutes to an hour and a half to get to our job that paid $9/hr to provide for her family of 7. She’s as broke as they get and picks up scrap metal around the job site to sell to the scrap yard just to pay for gas. But that gas is cheap in comparison to finding a house closer to Denver that will fit an adult, 5 teenagers, and a grandbaby.

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3 J. Money February 27, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Commutes def. suck out energy and costs, but sometimes it can def. be worth it all depending on your priorities… I sure don’t miss it though :)

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4 Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies February 27, 2013 at 6:44 am

I bite my tongue sometimes when one of the ladies at work complains about not having enough money but then she just spent thousands on her two kids for Christmas. Literally thousands of dollars. Her claim, “oh when you have kids you’ll see that’s how it has to be…” Really? I’m not sure about that.

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5 J. Money February 27, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Wow, yeah – that is *not* normal.

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6 chubblywubbly February 27, 2013 at 7:45 pm

It is normal in NYC. Lots of people here spend big money on their kids and are constantly competing against to buy bigger and better stuff. Lots of my friend’s 2 year olds & 3 year olds are using ipads these days.

And then the birthday parties where everyone tries to up the ante. When I ask them if they are being too extravagant, they tell me that once I have my kid, I will give up everything for them. I think not.

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7 J. Money March 16, 2013 at 12:06 pm

That’s just insane… hopefully they have tons of money where it doesn’t affect their budget/etc.

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8 Kate Horrell February 27, 2013 at 7:06 am

Amen! Makes me want to poke some people in the eye.

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9 Greg@ClubThrifty February 27, 2013 at 7:29 am

Hallelujah! Preach on!

We hear the same sort of things. In reality, we don’t make any more (often less) than our peers. However, we don’t spend our money going out on weekends or eating out every night. What we do spend it on is vacationing. To others, only wealthy people are able to vacation like we do. Yet, we sacrifice and tell ourselves “no” in order to be able to go on the trips that we do.

Like you said, it is all about being happy. Spending our money on travel is what makes us happiest, not richest. With a little discipline, our peers could do it too…if they wished.

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10 Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce February 27, 2013 at 7:45 am

I think it is really common to find people who think they are “trapped” in their own lives. Funny, because they were kids one, then college kids (growing, growing), then young professionals (still growing)…then there is this self imposed wall. Time to be stuck. Self imposed. It is sad…Thanks for the great post, J

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11 Renee S February 27, 2013 at 7:49 am

Oh, preach on! I want to hear more from that girl—she seems very wise :)

I am also surrounded by peers who complain about where they are financially. I tell them over and over how to help themselves, but not only do they feel “stuck”, but they feel entitled to just GETTING everything they want. Well, life doesn’t work like that!

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12 J. Money February 27, 2013 at 4:30 pm

She’s considering starting her own finance blog so hopefully all these kinds words here motivates her! :)

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13 John S @ Frugal Rules February 27, 2013 at 7:54 am

Preach it! We have friends/family that complain at times too for not having this or that. I get it if times are tough…we all have been there. BUT, when those tough times are because of silly choices on your part that’s another story. Life is about making choices and if it’s on stupid stuff, guess what, you’re not going to have money to do the things you want. This means we have to put the big boy pants on and determine what’s important to us and live wisely so we can do that.

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14 AverageJoe February 27, 2013 at 8:03 am

Great letter! …and for people who think that staying in budget is easy? It’s a skill that you learn over time. Every day there’s the possibility you might “fall off the wagon,” so it takes diligence…..not luck.

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15 William Cowie February 27, 2013 at 8:13 am

Right on! No pain, no gain — as true in money as in the gym.

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16 Alexa @ travelmiamor February 27, 2013 at 8:51 am

Couldn’t have said it better myself! When we were planning one of our trips to Hawaii my husband’s co-workers would say just that, “oh you must make A LOT of money” or “you’re rich!” And it’s not that we make a lot of money but we make sure we get the travel specials and we budget for it. I would much rather go to Hawaii then drive a Mercedes or BMW (like the people that made the money comments). Like she said, I choose not to have my nails done and save that money for my next trip!

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17 J. Money February 27, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Yup, and some people would rather have the BMW or Mercedes than travel – it’s just a matter of prioritizing where you’d like your money to go more.

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18 Moon February 27, 2013 at 9:21 am

I actually think people who really go waste their money don’t talk about money. My husband’s assistant, she and her husband have 2 car loans, 2 debt consolidation payments, a medical bill from delivery of the baby, living in a fancier than they need apartment…she never tried to talk about these stupid things that they do. She tries to pretend she is doing all good (e.g. like cooking at home, reading Dave Ramsey’s book, etc) but hides the stupid things (like she switched to a cheaper electricity company to save money before the contract is over so now they have to pay an early termination fee). She talks about (just about to everybody) that she is saving up for a house, but in no way on earth with all these debt payments she is saving up anything! I remember seeing one quote: “don’t try to tell me what your priority is, show me how you spend your money and I will tell you what your priority is”.

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19 J. Money February 27, 2013 at 4:33 pm

LOVE THAT QUOTE!! So true.

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20 Cate February 27, 2013 at 9:35 am

I love this! My nails look like crap and my clothes aren’t the most stylish, but I’m taking my daughters on a Disney Cruise because I looked at my priorities and made my budget work for me :)

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21 J. Money February 27, 2013 at 4:33 pm

haha… it’s okay, when you’re sexy you’re sexy! ;)

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22 Jackie February 27, 2013 at 9:41 am

I was in an automotive store one time getting my oil changed and the woman next to me at the counter said, “Oh, thank goodness I was able to get your credit card. I had no idea how I was going to pay for my service.”

I looked her over and said to myself – “I know ho you can pay for your car service.” – Nice 4th of July manicure and pedicure you have. Not to mention the Coach purse and great hair color and cut (she was a nice looking lady).

It certainly is how we manage our priorities and having a budget is key. Great rant and post.

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23 J. Money February 27, 2013 at 4:36 pm

HAH! I wonder if that would have been a wake-up call for her, or she would have punched you in the face ;)

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24 Julie February 27, 2013 at 9:48 am

Yes. I learned this lesson very much the hard way in the past 3-4 years. Living without a budget… without planning anything… made me lose sight of my goals and lose A LOT of ground financially. I’m finally starting to turn things around – but have a long way to go. I hope that someday I can be looked at like “I’m rich” when really I’m just living frugally and enjoying the splurges that I plan. :)

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25 Gina February 27, 2013 at 9:55 am

I find it really hard to keep my mouth shut and not be judgmental when people complain and clearly have spent money elsewhere, but it’s also important to remember that they’re YOUR choices and YOUR values. It’s helped that we’ve surrounded ourselves with friends who have similar values as we do; it makes a big difference in the “I wants” with my kids as well. They know we’re taking two trips this year as a choice over toys, eating out, and movies. And they’re choices, not sacrifices!

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26 Michelle February 27, 2013 at 9:59 am

LOVE this post! Everyone needs to read this.

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27 Dianne @ Skinny Seahorse February 27, 2013 at 10:00 am

Took the words right outta my mouth! When I started telling people that I was taking a year off – especially those that knew my husband was a stay at home dad – I often got “must be nice – I wish I had as much money as you”. Another was “gees, did you win the lottery?” These comments were almost always from people who spent in excess and seemed tone proud of it.

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28 J. Money February 27, 2013 at 4:38 pm

“must be nice” – that’s the worse!!! It’s much easier to not care and be lazy than to get up and do something about it.

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29 Grayson @ Debt Roundup February 27, 2013 at 10:02 am

Well, I used to complain about money, but then I got serious and changed my situation. It wasn’t easy and I didn’t like the process, but I think I a better because of it. You have the power to change your situation, but you just have to do it.

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30 MainlineMom February 27, 2013 at 10:08 am

There’s a difference in language between people who are proactive and disciplined with their money and people who aren’t. People who aren’t say “I can’t afford XYZ” all the time. I have learned never to use those words anymore, I always says “That’s just not in the budget right now.” or “That’s not my priority at the moment.” I refuse to even tell my kids we can’t afford something when they ask…that would be a flat lie. I know I waste money in some areas (like eating out) but that’s my choice and at least I’m aware of it. My husband’s hour long commute? Yes it’s expensive but our kids’ education is a priority to us so we chose where we live and budgeted for that commute. Vacation is not a priority for us but giving, which is something no one will ever be able to observe about us from the outside, is a huge priority for us. Fortunately MOST people I hang around don’t whine about their finances. This whole principle also applies to our health of course…don’t complain your clothes don’t fit, change your lifestyle till they do.

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31 J. Money February 27, 2013 at 4:40 pm

YES!!!! I wrote an entire post about not saying “I can’t afford that” and some loved it and some hated all over it, haha… But I don’t like saying it either when it’s not exactly the truth. You can read it here if you want:

http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2010/02/no-more-i-cant-afford-that/

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32 Mike Collins February 27, 2013 at 10:11 am

I have a few friends who do nothing about complain about how they have no money, yet they eat out all the time, they seem to be shopping for new stuff constantly, and they usually spend their evenings plopped in front of the tv. I try to tell them to turn the tv off once in awhile and find a side gig or business to help supplement their income, but in the end it is easier to just complain about your problems rather than trying to fix them.

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33 Hannah February 27, 2013 at 10:24 am

Love it! I really appreciate a proactive approach to money. My husband makes an average income, but I am able to work part-time and be a part-time homemaker (old-fashioned, yes, but something I enjoy and works for us as a couple). Being able to work PT and help support my husband is far more important to us than fancy cars or eating out every weekend.

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34 Johnny @ Our Freaking Budget February 27, 2013 at 10:30 am

I will give Mrs. Richpants a loud and hearty AMEN.

What’s funny is we get the opposite reaction from folks we know. Since we rarely go out to restaurants with friends and we’re particularly stingy with our fun money right now, we always get leading questions about how we’re doing financially. Since we’re not keeping up with the Joneses all that well, we MUST be poor and unhappy. Jokers.

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35 J. Money February 27, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Haha… Mr. and Mrs. Sneaky Riches! I love it… People often assume I have no money too based on the way I dress and rock the hawk, which I kinda like. Also less chances of getting mugged! Haha…

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36 Kd3854 February 27, 2013 at 10:35 am

I generally don’t read comments but was very interested in what people had to say. It sounds like we “get it” however it works for us: choosing vacations over things, saving over spending. In order to help our country, we need to get this article out to those who aren’t reading budgets are sexy, etc. I got the message loud and clear at age 10 when my parents divorced and I saw the impact on my stay at home mom. However you got it, it’s a blessing. I’d prefer a yearly low on a stock price over a Nordstrom shoe sale any day! Thx for the great article. Can we put it up on billboards everywhere?

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37 Zach @ The True Generalist February 27, 2013 at 10:41 am

I think this can extend to more than just money. There’s something wrong with your relationship? Maybe it’s because you’re not willing to work on it. You don’t like your job, maybe because you don’t see the benefits it brings to you.

We often focus on the wrong things. We do this because focusing on the RIGHT things often means we’ll have to do something about how we conduct our lives, and that means change, and nobody likes that.

We also need to realize we are independent and more so than we think. We do not need to be dependent on others. I read the one comment about the woman spending thousands on her kids and she just thinks that’s the way it is. She thinks this way either because others have told her so and she’s trying to keep up with the Joneses or her kids have told her so and she doesn’t have the wherewithall or desire to sit down with them and instruct them on what money is, how it works, where it comes from, why it’s limited and why it’s important. Getting kids to understand this now rather than lavishing gifts upon them will actually do much more to help them in the future by forming minimalist habits now rather than having to give things up later.

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38 J. Money February 27, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Say it loud and proud, brotha!

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39 SavvyFinancialLatina February 27, 2013 at 10:49 am

Completely agree with her! I know people who openly think we have a better lifestyle because we graduated and have jobs, yet they are the ones who tend to have better cars, homes and gadgets then us. While I don’t care about this, I wonder how they keep up with the bills.

I’m not into keeping up with the Jones’. I march to the tune of my own drum!

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40 Financial Black Sheep February 27, 2013 at 11:09 am

Seriously wish people would stop complaining and get some priorities and goals! I had someone just tell me they couldn’t afford $350 a month for rent, but they just got a kitten. Good luck with that.

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41 J. Money February 27, 2013 at 4:43 pm

wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

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42 Tina @ My Shiny Pennies February 27, 2013 at 11:54 am

Amen! I think some people at work think I’m poor because I always bring my lunch, I have the same ol’ rotation of outfits, and I drive an 11-year old car that’s dented all over by hail. But guess what peeps, I practice these habits so that I can go on vacations without incurring debt. In a word, it’s all about choices.

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43 Melinda Gonzalez February 27, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Whooooa, someone else who thinks like me, how scary! I have the EXACT same things happen to me. Some girlfriends go and spend huge amounts of money on manicures, and fro-yo frufru yogurt stuff, and salons for their dogs.

Meanwhile, I use a $1.00 nail file and $2.00 nail polish and my nails look just as good. I eat whatever generic yogurt is on sale, and my dog is happier not being tortured by a groomer.

However, when I go on vacations overseas (cheaply) people think I am rolling the dough, and that life isn’t fair.

No honey, I’m not rolling in the dough, I just know how to roll.

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44 J. Money February 27, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Yup! And there’s nothing wrong with spending tons of money on your looks either, if *that’s* what you prioritize. Just got no sympathy for those who refuse to change their money paths if all they do is complain all day about it…

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45 Nick @ ayoungpro.com February 27, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I couldn’t agree more with your article. There are far too many complainers and not enough do’ers in all walks of life.

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46 Jacob @ iheartbudgets February 27, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Priorities, priorities, priorities, priorities, priorities, priorities, priorities, priorities! Did I mention priorities? People choose their path. You spend half your paycheck on mall food, then you don’t get to go on a sweet Hawaiian vacation. You buys cars and TV’s and expensive toys, you don’t get to buy a house. You choose your path, and then look at others and complain. It’s the ugliest kind of jealousy. And it really is ugly, no one wants to hang out with that person. Hence…….Budget are Sexy!!!

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47 Lacy @EarnVerse February 27, 2013 at 1:56 pm

I just had my own rant about this topic on my blog the other day! How you spend your money is a choice! You make dozens every day. If those choices don’t align with your wants/dreams/values, start making different choices.

Glad to hear others echo this feeling!

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48 Donna Freedman February 27, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Once more, my personal mantra:
“I save where I can so I can spend where I want.”
How else could I avoid the cubicle, pay for my own health insurance, fund my own retirement, travel, help my relatives, donate to charity and finally give myself permission to have kettle corn at the movies with my friend Linda B.?
If I spend money frivolously I couldn’t do all (or even most) of those things. While I’m willing to do without kettle corn and to pare down the travel, the rest of it is non-negotiable.
That said, I will acknowledge that some people truly are stuck: low-paying jobs, a dearth of opportunities in their regions, health issues, rising costs of food and fuel, et al.
However, plenty of us just want to BELIEVE that we’re stuck because it keeps us from having to take responsibility for our spending. Boy, that’s handy. Ultimately self-defeating, but for the moment it sure beats carrying a lunch and closing our eBay accounts.

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49 J. Money February 27, 2013 at 4:46 pm

I could marry you.

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50 Mrs. Frugalista February 27, 2013 at 7:02 pm

The choices we are making now will allow us to pay our bills with two minimum wage jobs (if necessary) in one of the most affluent counties of New Jersey. It’s all about CHOICES.

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51 Slackerjo February 27, 2013 at 7:22 pm

I wonder how many people come here, recognize their own ‘want’ over ‘need’ behavior and then leave? Sometimes I am a little disappointed with the lack of posts from the Joneses. I am curious of what makes them tick/fail?

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52 J. Money March 1, 2013 at 5:19 pm

that’s an interesting way to think of it… my only guess is that the Joneses are Joneses because they don’t research/read blogs or sites about money? it’s like someone told me a few years back when writing about helping homeless people online. they were like, “you do realize homeless people don’t have internet access, right?” I hadn’t even considered it! I mean, there are libraries and what not, but the point was they were probably not going to find or search for my blog.

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53 AmAnda March 3, 2013 at 10:04 am

Yes.This. Most people I know don’t Google. They have no idea how to review a product before they buy it. They have no idea that sites like this exist. When I do mention and send them links they aren’t interested.

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54 J. Money March 16, 2013 at 12:08 pm

yup! we’re lucky and blessed to have realized how the internet works, and how to best use it to our advantage. so good job spreading the word to everyone – keep it up!

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55 Jose February 27, 2013 at 7:53 pm

It all comes down to being smart with your money. I like you analogy of manicures and eating out 4-5 times a week. If people are spending their money frivolously like that and then whining that they can’t do “awesome” things then they’re just financially and socially immature.

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56 KC @ genxfinance February 27, 2013 at 10:11 pm

I agree. It’s all about budgeting, managing your finances, setting aside for your goal (like in your case, travel), and enjoy what you have set aside for it. That what’s the problem with some people, they spend too much on unnecessary things and then complain that they have nothing left.

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57 stephanie February 27, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Oh my; what a SEXY group of followers you have, J!!! I really don’t have a whole lot to add since most everything has already been said.

I think I’d just say that now I have *control* over my wants vs needs (and yes, it took some long pondering & hours with a pencil and paper with my budget for 2013) I really look forward to reviewing my progress at the end of March (1st quarter, just like at work). It’s been a hella long time since I could proudly make that statement.

I have learned that what I want is financial independence. Not today, not tomorrow, and not even this year. Down the road, where what I’m doing for myself today is going to make a huge difference. It isn’t easy making the change but like so many have commented, making that decision then actually putting it into action is a big hard step. I’ve never been happier to take a step.

Joneses-get thee behind me!!! I neither need nor want to try to keep up. I’m doing much better being me. And I kinda like me!!!!

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58 J. Money March 1, 2013 at 5:20 pm

We kinda like you too :) Keep being sexy!

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59 Kevin Watts February 28, 2013 at 10:01 pm

People always find something to complain. Question if you had all the money in the world would you be happier? The answer is no, because I think happiness is largely a choice. Sure, life gets better if you have more money but you won’t be happier. I used to tell people about my travels and adventures but now I just keep it mostly to myself because don’t want to hear much money I have. I don’t have more money than my friends, I just made better choices.

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60 J. Money March 1, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Haha… yeah… I tend to not say things out loud in the real world too as to not upset people. Thank goodness we have places online to share it all though! :)

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61 Cat March 3, 2013 at 12:22 am

This is a great email, because it pretty much sums up people’s perception about money and how they put labels on everything. I’m really far from rich, but I’ve done a lot of travelling (I’m travelling now!), because I allow that in my budget as my “fun” money. Other people just choose other things. Another annoying one is when people think you have more money, or you make more money so they expect you to help them out. Just because you hold yourself better, or appear to have more money because you go on trips, doesn’t mean you have extra to spread around….

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62 J. Money March 16, 2013 at 12:08 pm

I know, right? How do they think we GOT all that money? By giving it all away and being reckless? Come on, now.

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63 Do or Debt March 3, 2013 at 12:33 am

Yes! I have people in my family who make over 100k who say they can’t afford to travel, or do anything, when that is simply not true. I make 1/5 that currently and my priorities are getting out of debt and traveling. It’s amazing what people normalize in their head and the excuses people give as to why they can’t afford things. It’s so frustrating especially when I know I make so much less, but have a much richer life. I try to get through to family and friends, but some people don’t want to change their lifestyle and clearly have different priorities.

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64 J. Money March 16, 2013 at 12:10 pm

yeah :( or they get offended and think you’re being rude… I have to bite my tongue a lot and just leave things with, “if you ever want to chat about money stuff, let me know anytime. I love helping out.” and then leave it in their hands. that way they can let it simmer and hopefully come back later, on their terms, to ask for advice! but no one really does :(

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65 jennydecki March 14, 2013 at 10:00 am

I talk to normal people a lot who keep up with the Joneses. You know what they’re using instead of Google? Facebook. It’s like the blind leading the blind out there.

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66 J. Money March 16, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Haha… I’m SOOOOO glad I’m off FB now on my personal stuff… never added anything really of value. (Now w/ my J Money account it’s way different – like minded people sharing and having fun about money! it’s perfect! :))

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67 slinky March 26, 2013 at 5:27 pm

I had two thoughts when i read this.

1. I HATE when people talk about how other people are lucky because they did something the speaker hasn’t. Someone once informed me how lucky i was to graduate college. Right, because it was all luck, and had nothing to do with me working my butt of for 6 years to put myself through school while working multiple jobs. I found that beyond infuriating.

2. This quote by Lao Tzu –
If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.

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68 J. Money March 27, 2013 at 9:59 am

A most excellent quote! Totally sharing that around, thanks :) And congrats on graduating! No sweat right? haha…

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