Not Keeping Up with the Joneses
Whether you live in Holland, Grand Haven, Grand Rapids, Saugatuck, South Haven or any other West Michigan city… try Not Keeping Up with the Joneses!
“Keeping up with the Joneses” is an old-fashioned term that refers to measuring yourself against your neighbors in terms of money, status, or possessions. But what about “laying low with the Joneses” — that is, not spending as much as your neighbors on regular household necessities? Getting a deal or keeping your spending in check on things like food, mortgage payments, and utilities means you have more cash for other stuff — like that tricked-out barbecue that is way fancier than the neighbors’.
So how much is a “normal” amount to spend on your regular household needs? You need to look at several factors to figure that out.
• Your income level
• Your family size
• Your location
These factors make it almost impossible to compare yourself to the average American, but a bit easier to see how you stack up against the people on your street.
Once you get an idea of what counts as normal in your part of the world, you can start figuring out ways to save money and increase your cash on hand. Spending money is one area where it’s fine for the neighbors to outdo you!
So how do you scale back on things like food, or internet service, or mortgage payments? We have some ideas.
According to CNN Money, housing is the biggest expenditure for most Americans, eating up more than 40% of the average household budget. This can be a hard one to cut back on — but there are ways to do it. A mortgage refinance might benefit you by lowering your monthly payments or saving you on interest payments in the long run.
Internet, TV, and phone service are pretty much basic necessities these days. If you’re willing to be a cord-cutter and drop cable TV in favor of combining antenna service (around $40) with something like an Amazon Fire TV Stick or a Roku streaming stick (about $50 on average), you can knock out your entire bill, which for many people can be $200 a month. And if you don’t need the fanciest phone, or if you’re on wifi nearly all the time, then you can cut your phone data to the minimum and cut that bill down too.
When it comes to food, it’s common knowledge that eating out can blow up your budget. Packing a lunch and making dinner at home is cheaper, and usually healthier, too. But beware of replacing restaurant meals with ready-made meals from the grocery store or an online service, as they can end up being just as pricey as dining out.
“Frugal” is not a replacement term for “tightfisted,” especially not to the younger generations who are struggling with employment and debt. And it’s not just millennials who benefit from watching their budgets; with a little foresight and resolution, anyone can spend less on their everyday expenses … and start saving for something to really impress the neighbors!