The phrase originates with the comic strip Keeping Up with the Joneses, created by Arthur R. “Pop” Momand in 1913. The strip ran until 1940 in The New York World and various other newspapers. The strip depicts the social climbing McGinis family, who struggled to “keep up” with their neighbors, the Joneses. The comic strip poked fun at our need to do things in order to impress other people.
The idea for this post came about after a phone call with the boyfriend. He was out for dinner with some of his colleagues. He hates going out on work dinners and the crap that comes along with them. Basically it’s a dick-sizing up contest. Banter about how much stuff you have. Houses, horses, cars, etc. He wasn’t impressed. Neither was I.
I remember one time my mom called to tell me about a conversation she had with one of
her friends. How their daughter bought a big house and it was worth XYZ dollars. Typical of the Asian culture. It’s all about who has the most expensive designer purse, nicest car, biggest house, blah blah blah. Ever notice why I don’t have many Asian friends? Now you know the reason. It’s all about who has what, who went to what school, and has whatever prestigious job. I could care less.
As I’m pairing down my belongings and expenses, and learning more about living a minimalist lifestyle, I’ve realized that people have waaaaaay too much stuff. I have way too much stuff (but not bikes, lol). Stuff that at one point I thought I needed, not so much any more…and my 1,200 sqft 3-story townhome is way too big for one person.
Now when I see someone with a big house or a super crazy nice car, the first thought in my head is…man, they must be in a lot of debt. I have no desire for that, the upkeep of a large home, and the stress that comes with it. I realize there are exceptions in this world, but hardly anyone “owns” a house any more. The bank owns it…for at least 20 to 30 more years. Definitely a different way of looking at homeownership. This was something that resonated with me from listening to The Minimalists Podcast. There is no such thing as good debt! If I can’t afford to buy a house in cash or pay it off in less than 10 years, I’m not going to bother.
Quickly my admiration has shifted to people with a wide variety of experiences, including those who are enjoying life and with fewer possessions. Don’t get me wrong. I like to have nice things just as much as the next person. But owning something nice for the sake of just having it no longer is in line with my values. So while the Joneses are upgrading to their 4,000-sqft home and trying to live the “American Dream”, I’ll be downsizing here pretty soon and enjoying not having a mortgage looming over my head.