Do you financially compare yourself to others? If you’re honest, the answer is probably yes. In the age of Facebook, it’s hard NOT to compare how well you’re doing financially compared to others.
When It Feels Like Others Are Doing Better Than You
I have a colleague who moved to a different area of the country about eight years ago. I know her cost of living is less than mine, but I also know that she pays for both of her kids to be in private school. When I see her Facebook posts, I see her kids heavily involved in sports. I see them having fun weekend outings as a family, and several times a year, I see her and her family on vacation. They frequently travel to Florida and the Caribbean.
When I see these status updates, I feel depressed. I feel like I must be doing something wrong financially because my family doesn’t spend money on fun things like her family does.
But the bottom line is that I have no idea how her family is doing financially. I assume that they have lots of money available to spend freely, but I don’t know that for sure. All this comparing does is make me feel bad about the way my family spends money, even though we’re being responsible with our money.
When It Feels Like Others Make More Than You
Another common feeling is that others are making more than you. Unless you’ve openly compared paycheck stubs, you really have no idea how much someone is making.
However, if you assume that they are making more, you may also feel bad for yourself. They have so much more money, and they’re able to do more things than you are.
But even if they are making more money, you don’t know what their expenses are. My aunt falls into this trap repeatedly. She always talks about how much money other people are making compared to her, such as her friend, Susan.
However, my aunt is single and lives by herself. Her expenses are much lower than Susan, who is married and has two adult children that she helps support. By the time Susan pays all of her expenses, even if she has a higher paycheck than my mom, she probably has little leftover because her expenses are so much higher.
Another problem with this way of thinking is that people accept the status quo for themselves. For instance, Susan has a very good retirement fund. However, my aunt does not. Rather than work harder and try to find money to put aside for retirement, my aunt accepts her situation and says that it’s easy for people like Susan to set money aside because she makes good money.
Comparing yourself to others financially is an exercise in futility. You never know exactly how much someone else makes, how many financial responsibilities someone has, and if they have debt.
All you end up doing is feeling bad about yourself or making excuses for your financial situation.
Have you fallen into the trap of comparing yourself to others financially? If so, what was the result?