As we prepare for a new year, many of us are looking for new beginnings for our finances. This is natural. It’s also natural to want to make resolutions about what we will do to improve our financial goals in the coming year.
One possible financial resolution is usually overlooked, though: Stop worrying about what others think.
Worrying about What Others Think of Your Financial Choices
Among the most devastating things you can do for your finances is to worry about what others think of how you are using your financial resources. The sad truth is that, in our society, it’s rather common for us to look around and try to figure out what will impress others, or get the things we’re “supposed” to have.
Whether it’s buying a house, getting a bigger TV, or wearing designer clothes, too often we try to impress others. Instead of doing what’s best for our own finances, and spending money on things that are important to us, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to impress others, or to “be like folks.”
This is an impulse that it’s important to overcome. If you are too concerned with what others think about you, and if you are too worried about what your financial choices are saying about you to your neighbors and friends, there is a very good chance that you will end up dissatisfied with your financial situation, and with your life.
New Year Goal: Stop Worrying About the Joneses
One of the best ways to shore up your finances in the new year is to stop worrying about the Joneses. Chances are that you’re just keeping up with their debt anyway. Make it a point to decide not to look at what the neighbors are doing with their money, and don’t let what others think is important influence what is a priority to you.
Instead of worrying about whether or not your TV is as big as the neighbors’, or how you can get a new boat like your brother-in-law, stop and think about whether or not you even want those things. If you like winter sports, it makes more sense to save up for a snowmobile than it does to buy a boat because you want to “keep up” with someone you know.
Take the time to really think about your priorities, and what’s important in your life. What do you actually enjoy? What do you like spending your money on? Or are you more interested in getting out of debt or saving up for retirement? It’s a hard thing to stop entwining your perception of your value with the things that you have, or the things that you think that you should have.
Instead, recognize what gives your life true value: Family, friends, good health, the simple things that you enjoy. For the new year, make it a goal to stop equating things with status, and stop comparing yourself to others. Instead, compare your financial situation with what it was last year. Work to improve your own finances, and adjust your spending so that it matches your values.