• Tue, Apr 16 2013

I’m Afraid Not ‘Keeping Up With The Joneses’ Does A Disservice To My Daughter

keeping up with the jonesesBecause of some really stupid self-sabotage shit, my husband and I can no longer afford to build a home this summer. In fact, we can’t even buy a resale. We had been saving and planning for about a year, and somehow we still managed to fudge it all. We fought, we disagreed. Our sweet baby toddled around with no idea what was going on.

So it will be at least another year of renting while we attempt to grow the hell up. I thought I had come to terms with this. I had forgiven Shaun for his financial transgressions and he had forgiven me. We had, I thought, been able to see the big picture. We can still put food on the table, we’re not bankrupt, we still have lovesweetlove.

Then one night I darted awake at four in the morning. Baby was stirring at my side a bit, too. I don’t know if she woke me or if I woke her, but I was as alert as if someone had doused me in water. And I was angry. Enraged. Why, after a year of planning, did everything go down the drain? What did I do to deserve this? How could we, parents of a toddler, married adults of 27 and 36, possibly not have any savings to our names or own a house yet?

Baby woke up, so I took her into the living room and let her play around while I sat there and stewed. I journaled about it (well, word vomit pencil-ranted). I probably posted some kind of flustered incoherent status to Facebook. Then my husband woke up and, contrary to his often irritated middle-of-the-night persona, he said sweetly, “are you okay, honey?”

I couldn’t help but utter those two horrible, passive aggressive words: “I’m fine.”

Cue argument. Cue daughter clanging toys together and babbling spiritedly like we’re on vacation at Disneyland. As things escalated, I became more and more certain that my husband was a self-sabotaging ogre who actually wanted to destroy our family. I was so mad that I almost missed his very accurate comment: “You’re trying to keep up with the Joneses. Who are you comparing yourself to right now?”

My instinct was to refute it, but I was so exhausted that I actually stopped and thought about it. I listed a few people we know who are doing the whole life thing “by the books.” A few of these people were people three times my age, who had obviously had their whole lives to accumulate wealth and status. Somehow, the tables had turned, and Shaun had me thinking introspectively.

I told him that every time I envision my future or make an important decision, there are a few heads I imagine hovering above me. I won’t say who they are in case they happen to read this. But they’re like caricatures of their actual selves, and they’re telling me how irresponsible and immature I am. I imagine them gossiping with each other behind my back about how poor and uneducated and liberal and inappropriate and godless I am. What’s truly bizarre is that many of these faces are people I don’t see very often.

Even weirder is that some of them are imaginary. Representatives of unattainable things. There’s the super fashionable self-made millionaire mom who lives in a huge house and is still super involved with her kids and gives both time and money to her community. Or the super eccentric but famous and revered artistic mom who lives in a loft and doesn’t give a fuhhhhhck what anybody thinks of her. Who are these women and what did they do differently to deserve this bounty of awesome?

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  • http://twitter.com/carinnjade Carinn Jade

    My husband and I have this argument often. He wants to keep up with the Joneses because he grew up as one of the “poor” kids in Orange County, CA (used car, not new, new clothes, not designer). He would tell you from his childhood that you are doing her a disservice and he demands “the best” (materially) for our kids. I, on the other hand, grew up actually poor. As in welfare and no refrigerator and stealing food. I think I had the best childhood ever. My mom was a waitress, my dad a cab driver. They worked nights, they were always around. That’s what I want for my children. Of course my husband is at the office 10 hours a day (and works more than that) and I am the one who thinks he is doing the disservice to our family. The trouble is you will never know what your kids missed growing up until they are grown up. It’s a loaded topic. You write about it, as usual, beautifully.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      Thank you Carinn! Your husband kind of sounds like my dad, haha.

  • PSG

    My family is ‘middle class’, but I buy second-hand, off-season and drive a used vehicle. Coupons, sales, salvage and auctions.

    Don’t aspire yourself to be what someone else is, because you’ll be disappointed.

    Make it a goal, together, and reaffirm your desires with each other (yes, WE really want this, how do WE get there…where are WE now, how much longer?) but don’t live up to anyone else’s expectations. It’s not like they live up to yours, right? This is your life. Make it what you want it to be…and I don’t mean fuzzy inspirational MEME rays-of-light-and-rainbows garbage. I mean, write up a business plan, a contract between you and your husband, and set realistic dates…I want us to be here (insert milestone) by _____. It won’t be a year from now. It might be two years from now. But you’re 27? It’s OK. It’ll happen.

    BTW – Your child won’t know the difference until you point it out to her, or some other brat does later on. (I never knew I was a poor child despite living in an old cottage until some older ‘new box’ kid teased me about it.

    Good luck! : )

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      Very sound advice! I wonder what my husband would think of a family business plan…thank you!

    • http://www.facebook.com/valerisexton.jones Valeri Jones

      Don’t forget to set realistic timelines about things. I’m actually doing a little assignment in school right now about time management and one of the things that stuck with me from the reading was this: Those who do poorly at time-management (read: procrastinators) will benefit from allowing themselves double the time they think it will take them to achieve a goal.

      Don’t get discouraged, Amanda. Life never happens the way anyone plans. And never compare your goals to what others’ are. They aren’t important. I agree that a family business plan is a great idea. And don’t forget to count your blessings!!!

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      Thank you :-)

  • Amanda

    I grew up in poverty. My mom is mentally ill, so she could never work & my dad brought (& still brings in) a little less than $1000 a month. I’ve been paying many of their bills since my first job at 16 years old. My parents are in constant fear of losing their home and are drowning in debt. I am the first one of my family to graduate high school and attend college, so yeah, I too am very much playing Keep Up with the Joneses. I refuse to follow in my parents footsteps or come anywhere near where they’ve always been.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      Wow, good luck to you. What a load of responsibility for you to have as a child.

    • Sara

      I don’t see what you’re doing as “keeping up with the Joneses”, though. It sounds like you’re working hard to create a more financially stable life for yourself and your children than what your parents were able to give you, and that’s to be admired, not criticized.
      Keeping up with the Joneses is more about pursuing the outward APPEARANCE of wealth–the big house, fancy cars, lavish vacations etc.–when you can’t actually afford it. Lots of the people who SEEM rich are actually up to their eyeballs in debt; they’re the ones who the saying applies to. It sounds like you just learned from your parents’ experiences and are trying to achieve better for your own family.

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.white.3532507 Paul White

    I have those heads too! I mostly try to ignore them but sometimes I can’t.

  • Daisy

    I don’t “keep up” materially or financially with my friends, but we have different priorities. I have friends who want brand new, fresh-off-the-lot cars with heated seats and Bluetooth, and to save up to buy a house by the time they’re 25. I just need a car that gets me from point A to point B and my 98 Neon with manual locks and windows does that just fine. The idea of being tied to one building in one city by the time I’m 25 is frightening. I love to travel, and I make it a priority. I take one or two big trips a year, and when I finish university, I intend to live in multiple different cities, and then maybe settle down when I’m 30, so a mortgage is the last thing I want.
    Obviously, this isn’t the same for you, because you DO want to buy a house, and you have a little kid. But what I’m saying is that everyone’s priorities are different, and everyone’s situations are different, and there is not just one life path (get a degree, get a house, get married, have kids) that everyone must follow, right on schedule. Don’t worry about everyone else’s life; it sounds like you are doing just fine <3

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      Thank you! It sounds like you really know what you want, which I’m realizing is half the battle.

  • LiteBrite

    The flip side is that struggling to keep up with those infamous Joneses can actually do the same thing: a major disservice. I saw this when I worked in a financial planning firm and even with my own parents. Living beyond your means creates a ton stress and carries over into other aspects of your life. Trust me; I know from personal experience.

    As a parent, I understand the urge to give your kids “the best” and “all the things you never had”, and I have to fight this all the time myself. However, one of the best gifts you can give your children is the understanding of the value of a dollar and living by that example. If there is ever one fault I will have for my parents is that they didn’t do enough of that.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      I think you’re right…and this is probably why it’s a good thing that we didn’t wind up getting the house, after all. The one we were going to build was at the absolute upper limit of our pre-approval range, so we would’ve probably been very mortgage-poor.

    • http://www.facebook.com/valerisexton.jones Valeri Jones

      One of the things I learned about trying to give your kids “all the things you never had” is that a lot of times, we forget to give our kids what we DID have. Things like family game night instead of vegging out in front of the TV/computer/iPad; playing outside; teaching your children to work hard and have compassion for others… etc.

  • Tea

    Kids don’t need stuff, they need stability. Most of my stress from my family being poor when I was young was just from how jarring things could be when they went bad. My mother had terrible spending habits, and blew literally a third of her income’s worth of credit cards at Christmas. We lived in the car for a while when we got evicted. We lived at grandma’s for a while. She would yell or snap about nothing and everything, and I didn’t know at the time it was because we got our third notice on the power bill, and yet we had gotten pizza or tacos 3 times in the last week. I almost never saw her be friendly or affectionate with my dad, an over-the-road driver, because they were always yelling about finances. I wouldn’t have minded just growing up poor, but the lack of living within our means is what scared me, and made me sure that life isn’t able to ever be stable and that I need to always be financially ready for anything. It’s caused some strife with my partner, who never got ” The money talk” and is a firm believer in treating yourself frequently, while I hoard up money and sit on it. We still can’t afford a savings or insurance, and I always feel like we’re on the edge of disaster even when we aren’t.

    You don’t need to keep up with the Joneses, or a big house, your kids just need a stable life with loving parents.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      Stability is key, for sure. And Jesus, I can’t imagine having a childhood like you did…that’s amazing that you’re learning from their mistakes, but I’m sorry it causes trouble with your partner :-(

    • Sara

      I agree with you so much, Tea. That’s what I want for my kids–stability. I couldn’t care less about the “stuff”, what scares me is the thought of them not having the security that comes from knowing that you’re safe, you have a place to live, and if you get sick you can go to the doctor.

      Fortunately, at the moment we can give our daughter the stability she needs. Hopefully, that will always be the case. We’re working hard and socking cash away in savings to increase the likelihood that it will. She’ll never be the kid whose parents drive a Lexus or who goes to a $10,000 summer camp, but that doesn’t matter to us and if we raise her the way we’re trying to, it won’t matter to her either. She has two parents who love her and each other fiercely, believe in the value of education and hard work, and are lucky enough to make a living doing what they love. That’s plenty for me.
      My cousin, meanwhile, IS the kid whose parents are keeping up with the Joneses. Her mom (my aunt) is also in a desperately unhappy marriage with a husband who cheats on her, criticizes her in public every chance he gets, and is an all-around tool. Oh, and he’s been in trouble with the IRS more times than I can count because he continually lives beyond his means and then tries to make it up by cheating on his taxes. You’ll never convince me that the Mercedes and the private school are worth it.

  • Justme

    I think that struggling to keep up with the Joneses would actually do your daughter more harm in the end because it is teaching her that the only thing that matters is the exterior.

    But to a certain extent, I’ve had those same thoughts when I reflect on how I was raised (upper middle class) and how my husband and I are sometimes living month to month….but then I have to keep in mind one major fact. I was born when my parents were 36 and had been married for fifteen years. I was also born eight years after my next oldest brother. So my parents were infinitely more well off when I was growing up because they were more established in their marriage, careers and finances. I wasn’t around when they were living in a trailer for the first few years of their marriage.

    I think this generation looks at our (mostly) settled and financially secure Baby Boomer parents and we want to have all that they have….right now. But we forget that all that they have took many years of hard work and penny pinching to get. At least, I do.

    I look at my house with all the renovations that we need to do and I compare it to my parents house which always is perfect and is totally customized to their needs…and I get frustrated. But I have to step back and remember my childhood photos that include puke brown-yellow shag carpeting and awful wood paneling throughout the house. My parents home wasn’t built in a day and someday, if my husband and I mind our finances well, I will have the same settled nature as my parents.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      That is SO important to remember about the people who “have it all” being generally older and more established. And I loled at your “puke brown-yellow shag carpeting and awful wood paneling” reference…whose childhood photo from our generation *doesn’t* have a family picture like that laying around somewhere? ;-)

    • Shea

      That, and frankly it was a lot easier to get ahead back when the Boomers were just starting out. The economy was better, and it was possible to support a family and live a middle-class life on one professional salary. Now, those of us in our mid to late twenties are scrabbling to pay off crushing student loan debts (incurred getting that college and possibly graduate degree that used to be a ticket to middle-class financial security, but no longer), unemployed or underemployed and hanging on by our fingernails. We can’t judge ourselves for not having the same level of stability as our parents had at the same age. The world is a different place now.

    • Cat

      You could be me. My parents struggled (there was a time when I was pretty little when they both worked minimum wage jobs on opposite shifts), but back in the 80s they bought a house for almost nothing (about $30,000, two bedroom, nice backyard, in a major Pacific Northwest city) and my dad got out of college with no debt because tuition was $600 a year. My aunt’s Pell Grants covered her tuition entirely.

      It’s really hard for me to take the generation ahead of us seriously about how hard they had it and their accusations of laziness just ring painfully tone-deaf.

  • http://www.facebook.com/courtney.wooten Courtney Lynn

    We’re 31 and 33 and still rent. We want a house, too, but I’m trying to remember the important thing is a roof over our heads. And it’s hard. I feel you!

  • Cassy C

    I struggle with this. BIG TIME. I don’t have it all figured out yet, but I do know that I’m at my most content when I remember that the Jonses always have something negative going on in their lives that they don’t post on Facebook, you know? They’re in debt up to their eyeballs, or are strained and unhappy at work, or in a sexless marriage, or something like that. It is so cliche that “the grass is always greener,” but it is so true.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      Very very true Cassy. I see you channeling some Dave Ramsey, there, and I like it ;-) For serious, though, it’s too bad that people (generally) only post the really awesome stuff to Facebook, and it’s never honest stuff like “I got this new iPad but I didn’t really have the money for it so I put it all on a credit card! Yay me!”

    • http://www.facebook.com/houde.veronique Véronique Houde

      While in college, I accumulated 15,000$ in personal debt being stupid and having a jerk boyfriend ;). I have spent the last 10 years trying desperately to get rid of it entirely. I always wondered how it was that my friends were travelling the world while on EI and while paying for their master’s degrees, or were buying brand new cars, or were going out every weekend…

      When my boyfriend and I bought our first property together (he already owns a house that is rented – too expensive and big for our taste), we had to look at our priorities, which were to travel (without putting it on credit) and getting rid of all of our debts). We chose to purchase a smaller one-bedroom condo, knowing that we also wanted to have a child. My boyfriend being from the south of france, he’s very much used to living in small spaces and we didn’t see a problem with having the little one room with us for a year or two.

      My friend admitted to me the other day how much she still owed on her credit cards and how jealous she was that I had payed off all of my debts this year! I was completely taken aback!!! Now I understand that all of the trips and the spending are a façade.

      I know that lots of our friends and family presume that we’re not that financially secure considering the size of our condo and the fact that I cut my cell phone when I went on maternity leave. What they don’t know is that this was a CHOICE that we made, and we’re happy living this way! ;) That we’re saving up to travel to South America, to buy a bigger place, and to save up for our child’s education – all that on very modest income.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      This is fabulous. Thank you for sharing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/valerisexton.jones Valeri Jones

    Just so ya know, Amanda…. I AM a Jones, and I’m by no means rich. :)

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      Haha! :-)

  • Amanda

    The truth is that as young new parents, we compare our lives to the lives we remember as children. But the lives we remember are often many years into the marriage and careers our parents had. Lets say you remember going to Disney Land as a 5 year old. Your parents were probably married for about 7 years, and often times are 10 years into a career. When your daughter can start remembering things, you will have more established lives.

    This is at least what I’m telling myself. My husband has chosen a fairly luctrative job, but he’s early in his career, and I”ve decided to be a stay at home mom. I often worry we’re behind too, and we have this conversation regularly. Don’t feel alone. And remember, it’s a slow build. Keep making the goals, eventually things will even out.

    • CW

      Unfortunately, this is not necessarily true. The cost of basics were quite a bit lower when we were growing up (especially housing, healthcare, and higher education). My dad finished his MBA in ’77 with student loans of roughly 10% of his first year’s salary. My parents were able to buy a starter home in a decent neighborhood in a suburb of San Jose, CA for roughly double my dad’s salary. My dad’s employer paid 100% of the premiums for a family health insurance policy and there were no deductibles, co-pays, or cost-shares. My DH finished his MBA in ’06 and got a starting salary that was about $20k higher in constant dollars than my dad’s first year salary. However, my DH graduated with student loans just about equal to his first year’s salary. That starter home that my parents owned had skyrocketed in price and then cost 5x my DH’s first year salary. He had to shell out hundreds of dollars per month in premiums for family health insurance coverage plus thousands more per year in deductibles, co-pays, and cost-shares. Therefore while my DH made a bit more money than my dad did three decades prior, my parents had much greater purchasing power back when they were our age simply because the cost of basics are now so much higher.

  • http://twitter.com/witavorr AE Vorro

    This is a great article and really gets at the heart of such conflicts (both interpersonal ones and internal ones).

    My only comment is that the title (which I assume is not controlled by the author) is misleading and discrediting to the author.

    The whole article is about an adult’s shifting perspective on materialism, but the title, frankly, put me off. In fact, I only clicked on it because I thought it was going to be a bit shallow (sometimes I like to read things that will probably annoy my values); the title seemed to imply it was going to be a litany of complaints about how having less money, and thus less luxuries to bestow on her child, would be some sort of terrible, endangering thing. I was happy to be wrong about this assumption! But I also think the title is a bit overly sensational (look at the way my child may be harmed!), when it’s a well-thought out piece that has very little to do with the child herself, but with maturity and self-realization. Otherwise, a great piece!

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      Thank you for the feedback, and I’m glad you enjoyed! :-)

  • Melody

    I worry about this too, except my personal Jones’s are my extended family. I have a whole bunch of cousins who all got married and started having babies around the same time as my husband and I, and I am forever comparing our lifestyle to theirs. Truthfully, I’m pretty sure that we make more money than all of them, except we fucked up our credit years ago, and as a result, we don’t have any. We pay cash for everything, both so that we don’t over spend and also because we have bad scores. But we do have a sizeable savings, enough for several rainy days, in fact, our savings took care of us after Sandy when we had to evacuate to hotels for a few weeks. We still rent, but in NYC, where our little apartment is a relative palace compared to some of the shoeboxes that other people live in. And yet I keep finding myself hung up on my cousins’ 3 bedroom – 2 car garage and backyard set up, and their luxury SUV,(albeit in Arizona where the cost of living doesn’t even compare) even though we don’t use a car here as the train station is literally right across the street. What’s worse is that a lot of the family haven’t ever lived anywhere but the ‘burbs, so they really can’t understand not wanting or needing to buy and house and car, so I am constantly justifying it. Even though renting is the best option for us right now I still feel this need to prove that we are not broke and could afford a house if we wanted.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      A lot of this sounds like my situation, minus living in a supercool place like NYC. My extended family is (mostly) the Jones’ I’m referring to. We’re considering going more urban with things (as urban as we can get, that is, in Springfield Missouri) since car insurance and maintenance is so stupidly expensive. Do you enjoy not using a car?

    • Melody

      Yes and no. The ease of being able to just walk anywhere is nice, but bundling small children up in a stroller and lugging it up and downstairs in the winter every time we need milk sucks. Actually lugging a stroller up and down stairs in any weather sucks. It’s super windy by my apartment and in the winter it can literally take your breath away, which can be an issue for my son and I bc we have terrible asthma. Then I wish we were nice and warm in a car with heated seats. So now I just get fresh direct to deliver my groceries so I don’t need to run out unnecessarily. We also get a zipcar when we need to go somewhere that’s not train accessible. I think those are things that are exclusive to this area though, so I don’t know if there are comparable places in Springfield. Maybe try diapers.com and it’s sister sites like soap.com to get household items delivered, they usually have free shipping and next day delivery. It’s also great exercise, I’m in way better shape than I was before we stopped using a car. Of course, it’s way more cost effective too, compared to insurance, parking, tolls, gas, etc. Whatever works for you and your area, but make sure you research the transportation in your area because you end up at the mercy of the train conductor’s schedule, and if you aren’t in a place where you can easily run outside and hail a cab when the trains aren’t running, that can be problematic.

  • Hapa Mom

    Thank you. For posting this. There are days I want to keep up with the Joneses, and I sometimes fall victim to this (like today). But I know, like you, that keeping up will not make my daughter happy. Buying a house isn’t as important as the happiness and well being of my daughter, but changing my mindset is hard — especially since I grew up upper middle class too. But I am determined to get out of debt. Though, I drop off the wagon from time to time, i know our family will get there, and away from the Joneses.

  • Sara

    I think its interesting to find out the real reason that some people seem to be so “successful” at a young age. My sister and her husband bought their first house in their early 20s, but then I later found out that his parents had gifted them the down payment. They’re not the only couple I know that bought their first home with a gifted down payment. The down payment for a home is generally the trickiest part of acquiring a first home, so I guess if you’re lucky enough to have parents that are still giving you 1000s of dollars in your 20s or 30s…it just puts things in perspective. I have friends whose parents give them really outlandish gifts like riding lawn mowers, or the grandmother will quit working to provide her grandchildren with daycare. If your parents are giving you so much, I would think that its a lot easier to keep up a “wealthier” appearance!

  • CW

    I don’t give a fig about not being able to afford fancy cars, designer clothes, exotic trips, etc. What I am concerned about is not being able to afford the kinds of expensive extracurriculars like music, dance, sports, etc. that I worry will make my kids less competitive when it comes to college admissions some day. I am trying very hard to find free or inexpensive things that will help them build their applications but it is difficult.

  • whiteroses

    My husband and I are currently working our way through immigration. I live with my parents for various different reasons, and because we’re doing our best to save money they help us with a lot of expenses. Our son was very unplanned, so that’s part of it.

    My parents often tell me that my husband can’t support us as things are right now. That’s not what I want. I want us to support each other, and to support our son. I would love being a stay at home mom, but that’s not realistic for us. Basically, all that matters is that we can one day afford our own home, and that our son and any of his future siblings know that no matter what, they are loved. We may not have the newest and best of everything, but our children will be loved and looked after. And that’s the most important thing.

  • Rollergirl09

    As a Chicago suburban mom, I totally get where you’re coming from. It is a mindset up here. As I aggressively seek out the right neighborhood that attends the right school in the right suburb I wonder when I became this person. I’m not a western burbs native, so this is opposite of how I was raised. Yet my small child already knows what “brands” are cool and he’s not even in kindergarten yet. I’m so thankful for consignment shops and village wide garage sales where I can pick up Keenes and North Face at a reasonable price if that’s what he desires. I’m also thankful for the moms who bought that stuff retail so I can have their hand me downs.

  • Rob Macaluso

    Wow. That was an interesting article and well written, too. You remind me so much of myself! I come from a wealthy family and got cut off financially when I left home at an early age. I had a lot of lean years and I mean a LOT of lean years, sister! I went to college using grants and loans in my 20′s and took public assistance for years, which felt really weird, but comforting because I needed it. I was still me, though. I had my attitude problem of being an upper-middle class young woman, but man, I was actually poor! I had food stamps and when those ran out I ate nothing and my clothes were certainly sh*t, that’s for sure. So yeah, you can take the girl out of the suburbs, but you can’t take the suburbs out of the girl.

    I’m 45 now and have a family–a husband and two teenagers. Luckily, our kids got to grow up in this house because my husband had *already* bought it prior to meeting me–when he was single and had no family to support. Juggling both is difficult for a lot of people. The home is now also legally mine. We also own a company that is thriving (and as a founder, is also in my name), and yet to this day I STILL feel those pangs of wanting to fit in, keep up, and have what everyone else is having. I think to myself, “But look at what you did! Your company just passed the million dollar milestone!” (we did that in the last quarter of 2012). Everyone *else* thinks that is glamorous and that we should be rich from it. But you know what? We still live in our starter home. So who really knows what true wealth really is, huh?

    We both drive used cars that both run fine (we have a Buick sedan and a Grand Caravan minivan). Can we afford to move now? Yes. Have we moved? No. In our neighborhood we see young couples such as yourselves move in to houses, fix them up, then move on to their newly built mcMansiony homes within three to five years. Some we keep in touch with. Are they happier? Maybe not–they still complain about their homes, and that they have no money (Hint: Their mortgages have them pulled tighter than Joan Rivers’ latest face, they are overspending, and usually in credit card debt up to their asses) Are their kids more popular? No? Who can say? They all go to the same schools and play at the same parks. Everybody shops at the same stores.

    My husband made me swear we’d keep our credit scores high, and our debts low–which we have done. We do carry some credit card debt (under 10k, paid down both monthly AND with tax return $$). So we are not perfect. A huge part of that is being able to keep our living expenses reasonable. It sounds like you two are on the right track. You can’t beat yourself up for being a year late–sounds like you are on a tight schedule there! Take some pressure off! You’ve got three or four years, at least. Save for the house that you love–not for what you think everyone else loves. Your child will benefit from starting kindergarten in a new (or resale) house, and hopefully you won’t move out of that house until she graduates from high school. That is the best thing you can offer her–STABILITY! So as a truly successful person who feels the same way you do about what others have from time to time, take it from me. You only need to please yourselves.

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  • Reira

    Amanda Low…I think you are the best friend I have never had. Seriously, I’ve been cloned and have an online blog. Honestly, after reading so many of your posts, it’s kind of freaking me out. And also making me think there is hope for me after all, haha. Wish we could chill, no kidding. It would probably keep me from bursting out the front door and running down the street screaming.