How to Not Let Jealousy Affect Your Financial Wellness
Think about the last time you saw something you really wanted, even though you knew it might affect your financial wellness. Chances are, it was something that someone else had or experienced - your sister's shiny new car, your college friend's luxurious vacation to Lisbon, or your ex's courtside tickets to the big game.
No matter what it was, you may have experienced a little bit of jealousy over not being able to afford the same things as your friends or family. While jealousy can be a great motivator, it can also affect your financial health if you let it get the best of you. Let's dive into the reasons behind financial jealousy, why it often motivates spending, and how to protect your financial wellness.
Why Does Jealousy Affect Spending?
While financial jealousy might seem unpleasant, it actually serves an evolutionary purpose. Human beings are social creatures; we move in packs, seeking to join together and do things communally.
In other words, we want to eat and sleep the same way, just as we did in ancient times. But, nowadays, that food is from the artisanal farmer's market, and the mattress is memory foam. When we see our neighbors buying something, we don't want to feel left out — leading us to purchase items that we haven't budgeted for.
Romantic jealousy can also cause us to fork over a little more cash than we'd like to. Recent research from Northwestern University revealed that, when feelings of romantic jealousy arise, we often feel an impulse to buy flashier items in bolder colors, and often at a higher price tag. We want to show off and set ourselves apart with attention-grabbing items, leading us to make impractical financial decisions.
Modern social media can also prompt a lot of today's consumer jealousy, prompting excessive spending. Almost half of all millennials use Facebook on a near-daily basis, meaning that how our friends spend their money (or, at least, how it looks like they spend it) is on our minds more than ever before.
How to Protect Your Financial Wellness from the Effects of Jealousy
Jealousy happens to everyone, but you can take control of it rather than letting it control you. Here are a few ways to steer clear of envy-based spending while keeping your financial health intact.
- Consider the Reality Behind the Instagram Account: It can be hard to remember when you're idly scrolling, but social media isn't reality. Your friend with all of the designer dresses may have also racked up a lot of credit card debt along the way. Your cousin might have had help from his parents to be able to afford that home. And while you might only see your college roommate living it up on Facebook at endless expensive brunches, keep in mind that their everyday meals may not be as social media-worthy. By thinking realistically, you're less likely to get ensnared by financial jealousy and harm your own financial wellness in turn.
- Plan a Budget and Stick to It: Ground rules can serve as a solid foundation if your emotions threaten to get the best of you. Your monthly budget can create some healthy boundaries around your spending and saving, allowing you to make purchases with your head and not (only) your heart.
- Listen to What Your Jealousy Is Telling You: Although feeling green with envy might not sound like your idea of a good time, it can actually teach you some valuable lessons about what you really want. While it'd be nice to have brunch every Sunday, is your jealousy actually telling you that you'd like more time with friends? Or maybe you're realizing that interior design really is important to you, and it's time to save up for a home you can really love. Use your jealousy to turn something into an insightful, introspective moment.
- Use Cash Envy to Build Your Own Wealth: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em! A little bit of jealousy can go a long way in motivating you to start saving for what you really care about. Envious of your friends' free time? Get to work on that retirement account and investment portfolio. Aching to travel to faraway destinations? Start a dedicated travel fund, and make your financial wellness work for you.
Whether you're scrolling through social media or hanging out with friends, don't let jealously affect how you spend. Your financial goals will thank you later.