Can Money Buy You Happiness?

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Can Money Buy You Happiness?

June 19, 2012 By Lime Tree Kids Family comments



Can Money Buy You Happiness? Why Keeping with the Joneses Isn’t a Great Idea... 


  A few months ago, the metro media spouted about the average Australian income being $70,000. Here in God’s country, I was floored by the wave of Facebook friends questioning where exactly Mr and Mrs Jones reside and how they’d happily settle for ‘average’.  
  It’s been a bee in my bonnet for a while now, an itch I can’t scratch.     
  Who are the Joneses and why are we turning ourselves inside out trying to be like them?    
  The obsessive fantasy eating up our otherwise peaceful neighbourhoods is a destructive cousin of the green-eyed monster, forcing us to trade our lives for a handful of dollars and defining ourselves by what we own.
  Why do we need palatial, 250-square metre, five-bedroom homes, complete with a theatre room, four-car garage and plasma TV in every bedroom? What happened to queuing outside the bathroom to brush your teeth and actually spending time together in the one family room?     

What happened to money-can’t-buy -you-happiness?

  Now don’t get me wrong, it’s admirable to strive for a better life, but isn’t it time to step off the merry-go-round? Let’s face it, keeping up is a rat-race that can’t be won. Isn’t life already hard enough?    
  Where’s the logic in buying things we can’t afford, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t know?    
  My parents tried to keep up with the Joneses’ and now my generation is trying to keep up with their kids. It’s harder than ever to resist the urge. Never before have we been so vulnerable to marketing, with gadgets of all descriptions just a mouse click away (with two years interest free thrown in).    
  TV, radio and newspapers constantly push us to make false comparisons with ‘normal’ people who seem to have it all. And don’t even get me started on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.    

How can the Joneses afford to live that way?

  The truth is - they can’t.More often than not, they’re up to their necks in mortgages, personal loans and credit card debt, too busy consuming at a rapid rate and maintaining a nice facade to realise the real cost.    
  It’s a house of cards I’m telling you, and it won’t stand. Just ask the two million plus people that filed for bankruptcy last year or stop and consider the escalating national credit card debt we’re drowning in.    
  Holidays aren’t nearly as relaxing when you’re still paying for them three years later.     
  In the face of a struggling economy, rising living costs, mounting debt and a 5.2 per cent unemployment rate, many people are now putting in 60 hour weeks just to cover the bills.     
  You might be working all the time, but at least you know you could enjoy it if only you weren’t at work. Right?    
  Remember when the week ended on Friday? When shops closed at lunchtime Saturday and we spent time with our families instead of buying things all weekend.    
  Take a look at your own employment conditions: Do you live to work or work to live? Are you working longer hours than you should? Weekends? Evenings? Do you have to get up before you went to bed, or does it just feel that way?    
  My fear is that time-deprived parents are producing spoilt, yet well dressed, children crying out for cuddles.     
  How can we instill in or children an appreciation of what they already have when we always want more?     

What’s next if we do catch up to the Joneses? And, what’s the cost?

Only you can answer when “enough is enough”, an answer which may change over time. But until we spend time contemplating “enough”, we’ll always be tempted to keep up.

  I can’t pretend I don’t crave the latest and greatest (I just Googled iPads for goodness sake). But….all I really need is more time, and unfortunately that’s not for sale.    
  The cold, hard truth is that the majority of wealthy people got that way by living on less than they make, staying out of debt and saving their money. But no one looks at the person driving a used car and living in a modest home and thinks, “wow, they must be saving for the future…I bet they’ll be able to pay for their kids’ university education and retire comfortably.” We envy the look of wealth.    
  So the moral of the story is – stop comparing yourself to the Joneses (or anyone else for that matter) and focus on what brings true contentment for the Smiths, Browns and Langdons, whether that’s walking the dog on the beach, playing soccer with the kids or taking the tinny for a fish in the river.     
  Would you trade any of these for a larger house?     
 Nicole is a veteran journalist and corporate affairs professional living a life-long        dream to share her public relations, writing and marketing expertise.

 Director of Langdon PR by day, chief nappy changer by night, she offers knowledge    gained in advertising, journalism, corporate affairs, marketing, stakeholder      management, government and community relations, internal communication and  change management. 

 Based on NSW's beautiful Mid North Coast, Nicole admits she's a chocoholic and a    shopaholic, hence a self-imposed 2012 clothes shopping ban (unless it's for her four  gorgeous children).  



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