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F.... Keeping up with the Jones's

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Old 12-12-2007, 01:15 AM   #1
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F.... Keeping up with the Jones's

I'm completely sick of everyone I know being so overly concerned with keeping up with everyone else's material accomplishments... Especially around Christmas, but all the time.

My mother is going completely into debt in order to keep up the appearance of wealth, even though her income has been dramatically cut over the last couple of years.



We're Christmas shopping and everyone seems to be more concerned with what their gift will say about how much they spend, instead of if the person will actually enjoy the gift.

My wife and I have 2 kids and a large family. we don't exchange gifts with her family, but my family has to draw names and its like a big competition every year...

My step sister and her fiance' take it beyond ridiculous, giving sets of golf clubs and spending hundreds of dollars when we originally had a fifty dollar limit, and making it a huge production presenting their gifts...

its great if it really makes them happy, but it makes my wife feel inadequate, because she's not going to go out and spend that kind of money on people.... we make it more about our kids and the other kids in our family than anything...

anyone with me on this? is my family unique? am I out of place for letting it get to me?
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Old 12-12-2007, 01:34 AM   #2
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Re: F.... Keeping up with the Jones's

Read "Affluenza"...

Book reviews of Affluenza by * Wann, de Graaf, Naylor.

It's a great book, and provides a great perspective on the disconnect between wealth and happiness.

Basically... You buy more things that put you in a positive feedback loop to buy more things. You never needed a stereo, until you bought the car. You never needed the CD's, but then you had to get the CD-Burner, etc. Kind of an all too unfamiliar concept.
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Old 12-12-2007, 01:53 AM   #3
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Re: F.... Keeping up with the Jones's

Honestly, I hate Christmas. I have to spend forever agonizing about what to buy people. Once I decide what I want to get them, I have to go into a horribly overcrowded mall and fight my way through seas of people and it takes me forever to find what I'm looking for. Then I have to wrap them. I'd rather Christmas be just like Thanksgiving, get together, have a meal, enjoy company. The present aspect isn't something I really enjoy (that includes giving and receiving). And then when people ask me what I want, and I say like kitchen utensils, they get mad.
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Old 12-12-2007, 07:20 AM   #4
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Re: F.... Keeping up with the Jones's

Christmas has become way too commercialized. I've really grown to hate that aspect of it. When stores start putting up Christmas stuff before Thanksgiving, that really pisses me off. They shove it down your throat for a good 2 months now. I'm wondering how long it will be before we start seeing stores getting ready for Christmas in September.
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Old 12-12-2007, 07:53 AM   #5
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Re: F.... Keeping up with the Jones's

Every holiday is like that. Lewis Black does a pretty good routine about that trend. 4th of July starts in May, Halloween is in August, Thanksgiving is before Halloween, Christmas is in October... Ugh.
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Old 12-12-2007, 08:12 AM   #6
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Re: F.... Keeping up with the Jones's

If somebody gives me a gift costing more than $100 it's going back and the cash is going in my pocket. We all make a pretty good living in my family but we've always limited our gifts to $20. Sometimes we even skip the gift giving and donate our time together to do charity work.

I don't hate Christmas or commercial exploitation of it. I think it's great for the economy to keep people spending as much of their hard earned cash as possible. I'm just not one of those people.
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Old 12-12-2007, 08:20 AM   #7
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Re: F.... Keeping up with the Jones's

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I'm wondering how long it will be before we start seeing stores getting ready for Christmas in September.
A mall near me opened a Christmas Boutique in the end of July this year!!
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Old 12-12-2007, 08:44 AM   #8
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Re: F.... Keeping up with the Jones's

This phenomenon is a big reason so many Americans are in debt and financially ruining themselves. Too many people tie their self worth to the size of their salary or their spending.

What really sucks is when there are kids involved, and the parents continue to spend spend spend without saving for college. The kid will have the equivalent of a mortgage payments' worth of student loans when 22 years old, all so the parents can keep up the impression that they're wealthy. It's downright criminal.
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Old 12-12-2007, 09:17 AM   #9
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Re: F.... Keeping up with the Jones's

You're all crazy! Don't you guys watch The Office? In the Christmas episode Michael Scott explains why giving an expensive gift is so great.

Michael Scott: "Presents are the best way to show someone how much you care. It is like this tangible thing that you can point to and say 'Hey man, I love you this many dollars-worth'.
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Old 12-12-2007, 09:23 AM   #10
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Re: F.... Keeping up with the Jones's

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This phenomenon is a big reason so many Americans are in debt and financially ruining themselves. Too many people tie their self worth to the size of their salary or their spending.

What really sucks is when there are kids involved, and the parents continue to spend spend spend without saving for college. The kid will have the equivalent of a mortgage payments' worth of student loans when 22 years old, all so the parents can keep up the impression that they're wealthy. It's downright criminal.
Yep, you see it all the time. Too many people live above their means. I just don't get it. It would drive me insane to have so much senseless debt. I really wonder how people do it.
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Old 12-12-2007, 10:16 AM   #11
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Re: F.... Keeping up with the Jones's

It's no real surprise that 1 in 20 people carry $2,000+ in credit card debt and the average savings rate is somewhere below zero. Way too many people living well beyond their means.

I started making pretty good money recently (after I quit the police department) and I'd love to get myself a nice big plasma screen, but I just can't afford it. Rather than racking up $2500 in credit card debt and hoping I can pay it off, I'll just wait. I guess I don't see why that's so hard for some people to understand.

I worked with a guy about five years ago who had $21,000 in credit card debt and he was only 20 years old. His monthly minimum payment was something like $1,200. And he'd still go out and buy video games and computer hardware - just blew me away.
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Old 12-12-2007, 11:08 AM   #12
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Re: F.... Keeping up with the Jones's

When I was in my early to mid twenties I'll admit I racked up some credit card debt. I think everyone goes through that to some degree. But once I finally wised up I put my cards away and paid as much as I possibly could every month until they were all zeroed out.

It took me about 2 years to pay everything off but man I was damn proud of myself when I made that final payment. Now I only charge what I can pay off right away. I think it just takes a certain maturity level and a basic understanding AND acceptance that you can't have everything you want, when you want it.

Now I find that paying for something that I saved up for with cash is far more satisfying.
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Old 12-12-2007, 11:35 AM   #13
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Re: F.... Keeping up with the Jones's

Quote:
Originally Posted by Schneed10 View Post
This phenomenon is a big reason so many Americans are in debt and financially ruining themselves. Too many people tie their self worth to the size of their salary or their spending.

What really sucks is when there are kids involved, and the parents continue to spend spend spend without saving for college. The kid will have the equivalent of a mortgage payments' worth of student loans when 22 years old, all so the parents can keep up the impression that they're wealthy. It's downright criminal.
Exactly. The number one trait of all millionaires in America is that they don't spend money.

Those who take on debt are in for some pain. Debt means you bought something you couldn't afford. If you can't afford it then don't buy it. Outside of a house one should almost never incur debt.
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Old 12-12-2007, 11:52 AM   #14
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Re: F.... Keeping up with the Jones's

Man, I feel for you guys. The whole gift giving thing has become an epidemic. I don't even know why one has to give and receive gifts. I don't get it. I mean, I do get giving something to complete strangers but why family members?
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Old 12-12-2007, 12:34 PM   #15
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Re: F.... Keeping up with the Jones's

Gift giving isn't a huge deal in my family. Not to be too sappy, but really it's about spending time together and creating new memories. My mom has been instrumental in driving home that point.

Don't get me wrong, we all exchange gifts. But they're simple gifts. Especially for the adults. My 1-year old niece will get showered with gifts of course.

This year, I'm getting all noble. My gift is my sig, and last Friday I braved the elements and spent the evening volunteering at a kids museum
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