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Keeping up With the Joneses

The term keeping up with the Joneses has been defined by the Phrase Finder as striving to match one’s neighbours in spending and social standing. Keeping up with the Joneses is officially known as conspicuous consumption. Developed by Sociologist and Economist Thorstein Veblen, it describes the act of spending money on and acquiring things to display one’s economic power.

Keeping Up With The Joneses

Keeping up with the Joneses is also known as conspicuous consumption. It has been around for many years dating as far back as ancient times when men had women and slaves as “trophies of their status.” An in depth article by Christine Page can be found on the Association for Consumer Research’s website. The articles gets very specific and also traces the roots of conspicuous consumption and its development over time.

Let me give you some modern day examples. Lady A wants to impress Lady B, so she buys an expensive handbag. Lady B is impressed and decides to buy the same handbag or something similar. Don’t worry guys, you are guilty of it too. Guy A bought some new rims for his car and Guy B jumps on the bandwagon and gets some for his car too. Lady B and Guy B can not afford it. But if Lady A and Guy A can do it, so can they.

Lisa Smith wrote a fabulous article on Investopedia entitled Stop Keeping Up With The Joneses – They’re Broke. It sums up my feelings on the subject perfectly. The moral of the story is that the Joneses are broke, and just like some of you, they’re “fronting”. They’re pretending to be something that they’re not and spending money that they don’t have.

Everyone wants to show off their latest phone, MP3 player, car, bags, shoes and clothing. But at what cost? Just to show off? A quest for attention? So that you can say “look at me” or “I have one of those too?” Spending more than you earn is not a fad, and it can leave you in debt even if you have what your neighbour has.