It happens to all of us. Despite all of the blessings in our lives, we still fall prey to the green-eyed monster of jealousy. Some times it seems like everybody has it better than you. A relative just left for a 10-day cruise. Your neighbor got a new car. Your kids’ friends got a new video game system. Your coworker just got a new bass fishing boat.
In our consumerist society, it is only natural to feel a twinge of jealousy when others get to go to warm, tropical destinations or buy fun new toys and gadgets. I know that I’ve felt it. You work and you work to get out of debt and to stay out of debt, and sometimes it feels like there’s always something that trips you up.
Jealousy is not a fun or healthy emotion. So I figured out how to deal with jealousy in a way that produces a better attitude.
There are really only two approaches you need to take when you see everyone else getting a better deal than you.
You can accept that these people are not on the same path that you are and may be wallowing in debt. Sure, they take tons of cool vacations and have lots of nice stuff. What you might not see is how your friends and neighbors are sick inside with worry about affording payments or saving for retirement. These folks have simply gotten caught on the wheel of spending, and don’t know how to get off. Or they are so addicted to having things, they don’t even want to change. Learn from these folks. These are not the people you want to be. There is no vacation, no new car, no do-hickey wonder gadget worth being a slave to lenders.
The second approach is to look at the person who seems to be doing so much better, and ask yourself, “What are they doing right?” Take a close look at how they manage their money. Perhaps their income is greater than yours. Perhaps they are simply better at managing their money than you are. Learn from them! Find out what they are doing that makes them good money managers. Those who are good stewards of their money are the best role models for living a frugal, financially sound life.
When you look at all this stuff and these grand experiences that others are having, and you feel the green-eyed monster rearing its ugly head, learn to make peace with it. It’s okay to feel those feelings, but it’s not okay to make rash financial decisions based on those feelings. It’s not okay to blow a bunch of money you don’t have to keep up with others. It’s not okay for you to forget all of the wonderful, positive blessings you have in your life just because someone else has something different, newer, or better.
Learn the art of gratitude, and instead let jealousy be what spurs you to do all that you can to make better financial decisions for your family. If you really want what you haven’t got, then start making plans for how you’re going to get those things without getting into debt.
Because here’s the thing: When you are able to accumulate wealth and pay for things that you want with cash, there is no greater freedom than that.