This is part eight of my eight-part series on how you can beat the banks at their game and get yourself out of debt.

Have you ever rushed out to get the latest iPhone, even though you were in no need of a new phone? Everyone else seems to line up to buy the newest, most expensive mobile technology – so why shouldn’t you?

Or perhaps you’ve received a pay rise and have decided it’s time to upgrade your car. Or move into a bigger house in a better suburb. Or buy a TV as big as your wall. Because that’s what people do, right?

One of the biggest social diseases to inflict people across the globe is our preoccupation with “keeping up with the Joneses”. The irony is that while we are busy keeping up with them, they are busy keeping up with someone else!

It doesn’t matter how much you earn, there is always someone else who has more than you. Which is why it is so easy to fall into credit card debt. Even people with large incomes can easily get caught up in a cycle of debt as they constantly strive for “bigger and better”.

Credit cards make us feel as though we can afford anything. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. When people use credit cards to buy what everyone else is buying, it’s impossible to keep up. Their debt grows. All the income they work so hard for is spent paying off debts, simply so they can feel accepted by others.

What kind of lifestyle do you lead? Can you really afford it? Are you willing to lose financial stability simply to secure your neighbours’ approval?

There’s no joy in keeping up with the Joneses. When we preoccupy ourselves with what everyone else has, we lose sight of what is truly important to us. 

What’s more, the authenticity of our relationships is compromised. Do true friends accept you based on the way you dress, the place you live and the things you own? Would you be able to turn to these kinds of people for advice and support when things get tough?

I understand the need to be accepted by others. No one wants to feel inadequate. No one wants to be ridiculed, scorned or socially isolated.

But there comes a point when the comparisons need to stop. A point when you must choose between mere survival – living pay cheque to pay cheque, paying off mounting debts for things you don’t need – and prosperity.

 So how do you stop keeping up with the Joneses?

 1.  Say no to the notion that “bigger is better”.

 2.  Be comfortable with having enough.

3.   Set your own living standards based on values important to you.

4.   Keep these values in mind every time you make a purchasing decision.

5.    Set aside part of your income each week so you can build your wealth, rather than spend it on credit card debt.

When you have a vision that is Money Intelligent, when you choose a path of financial self-determination, “keeping up with the Joneses” simply does not matter. 

I hope this series on “8 Ways to Beat the Banks” has helped you re-evaluate your personal and financial goals. I hope it has given you a clear path to avoid unnecessary debt.

You have the power to take control of your financial future. With a Money Intelligent mindset, you have the money management tools to live a debt-free, prosperous life.download the first three chapters here: http://www.moneyintelligence.com.au/free-stuff/

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Susan Wahhab —CPA, SMSF Specialist, Entrepreneur, Working Mum, Small Business Supporter—     is Australia’s leading Financial Strategist and Money Mentor. Susan is the founder and managing director of Accounting and Financial Services firm Winner Partnership Pty Ltd www.winnerpartnership.com  

Susan is the author of the transformational and practical book Money Intelligence®. Susan is passionate about helping people achieve financial liberation. At the age of six, she witnessed how her money-savvy mum (whom she calls the money manager) joined forces with her dad (whom she refers to as the money maker) to save the family business from bankruptcy and become financially free. Susan truly believes that people can become financially liberated by developing a healthy relationship with money. Learn more about being money intelligent www.moneyintelligence.com.au