Keeping up with the Joneses is as typically American as apple pie. It probably stems from our national culture of upward mobility — kids are told from the time they’re toddlers that they can do anything, achieve anything, and it doesn’t matter where they start.
That’s great, but too many times we equate “making it” with having a lot of stuff. And the more insecure we are, the more likely we are to bolster our image with the “right” stuff.
In their study Materialism, Transformation Expectations, and Spending: Implications for Credit Use, Marsha Richins and Myron Watkins found that people who get into debt believe, falsely, that their purchases will make them more likable, more fun, more effective and “a better person.”
In her Family Money finance blog, Miranda Marquit says that people tend to overspend in order to purchase the things they see others in their social circles buying – …