Keeping up with the Joneses: Envious or Grateful?

If you have spent a lifetime trying to better your neighbours, friends or family with material possessions and pleasures, coming to retirement may be a time to reflect on that.

Appreciating what you do have is a good starting point; waking up another day and still breathing are bonuses; consider the alternative.

If you have a roof over your head, food to eat, friends and a family and a partner you are happy to be with, you are doing really well.

If you are healthy and mobile you are well ahead of the game, because no amount of money or possessions can replace good health.

Here’s a question … what do you want and what do you actually need?

Acquiring new things provides a passing sense of gratification; once attained the gloss wears off quickly. As a motivator for “happiness”, the endless pursuit of material goodies is a spiral into depression.

We have friends and family ranging across a broad socio-economic spectrum and maybe that is why keeping up with the Joneses has never been a priority for us, what would be the point?

Besides, would we really know what someone’s true wealth is from external appearances?

There is a serious danger in living a life being jealous of the possessions, position or lifestyle of others; it breeds unhappiness which can have serious health implications!

For most of us, in or reaching retirement, there is not a lot of scope to massively change our financial circumstances, we have what we have.

Certainly one can and should manage one’s finances to ensure the best possible outcomes, but once retired our financial base is what it is. There are ways to make changes like winning the lottery, but do remember “Hope is not Strategy”. But hey … great luck if you do.

However, there are changes in where you live, how you live and what you spend your money on that can make a difference.

Primarily I would suggest reviewing where you are at with your overall life circumstances: what type of dwelling you have, where and on what you spend your money (I am prepared to make a bet that if you have not done a budget, and kept records, you will be surprised by what keeping one might reveal)? What car(s) do you own plus boat, caravan and other assets (are they now liabilities whose value could be put to better use?)? Do those possessions reflect your current lifestyle or could their financial value be put to better use?

If you can make superannuation investment choices, review that too, which may mean you become more comfortable with what you have or how you can make satisfying changes.

If you are not happy with where you are heading, try to take control of what you already have and make some changes.

Primarily, be appreciative of the things you do have and don’t sweat what you can’t change, particularly if that means an endless comparison with the circumstances of others. That would be unproductive. Focus on the positives of all you do have and make the most of that.

Life is not a competition, other than in achieving the best you can.

If you are surrounded by those who always want to go “just one better”, how about their inner value, what do they mean to you as a friend or confidant? Go past the window-dressing and see where the true value and wealth of your friends, family and associates really lies. Do you value them, no matter what their relative financial status? Does being with them lift you up, or knock you down?

Choose wisely, adjust accordingly!

Have you “adjusted” your associations in retirement? Have you struck gold while re-evaluating what’s important? How’s that affected your life?

Older and Wiser