I recently read The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko (which I highly recommend), and one of the biggest themes I walked away remembering was the concept of ignoring others. That’s not to say that being wealthy requires you to treat others unkindly. Rather, the process of true wealth requires you to quit comparing your finances, purchases, and achievements to those around you.
If you consistently find yourself jealously eyeing your neighbor’s new car or wishing you could make as much money as your older sibling, most financial gurus would agree that you’re holding yourself back. Not only is envy an ugly color for everyone, but it’s also a distraction that prevents you from making achievements of your own.
It’s impossible to totally ignore the success of others, but everyone should try to steer clear of coveting what others have. Not sure how you can possibly do that with others flaunting their good fortune in your face? Here a few tips.
1. Spend Less Time on Social Media
Although you might not think that Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms have any bearing on your financial habits, they actually do. Every time you see a picture of some celebrity driving their brand-new car or a friend going on an expensive vacation, you’re asked to compare your finances to theirs.
Furthermore, social media actively encourages us to spend money and engage in compulsive buying. Your apps are constantly influencing your buying decisions, even if you don’t realize it.
According to The Next Millionaire Next Door , most millionaires spend 2.5 hours or so each week on their social media accounts. That seems drastically low when compared to the whopping 2.5 hours per day that most average users engage in. Perhaps their dedication to accumulating wealth discourages them from wasting time, or perhaps their ability to disengage from social media plays a role in their financial success.
2. If You Need to Compare, Look at Your Past Versus Your Present
Sometimes, comparison is necessary and healthy. For instance, it’s extremely smart to keep track of your finances so that you can see how far you’ve come in 10 or even 20 years. From now on, when you feel tempted to compare your success to that of others, consider comparing your current financial situation to your previous ones. Have you made progress? Where have you grown? Where can you continue to improve?
You’ll find that self-evaluation is much healthier and productive than envying those around you. Not only will it force you to better your finances, but it will also give you an appreciation for how far you’ve come over the past years.
3. Realize That Shiny Toys and Grand Lifestyles Don’t Equate to True Wealth
The average American household is at least $5,700 in debt. Together, all of the consumers in the country carry a staggering $1.003 trillion in credit card debt. Chances are, when you look at that friend who just bought a glittering new Mercedes, he didn’t pay for it in cash. Don’t assume that having the latest gadgets or the biggest house equates to a high net worth. For all you know, those people you envy are knee-deep in loans they’ll struggle to pay off for years.
What It All Boils Down To
Building wealth has nothing to do with the success of your neighbor or the failure of your coworkers. True wealth comes from dedication and self-control. Remind yourself of that when you start to covet the belongings and lifestyles of those around you. Reign yourself in and focus on your big goals, not what others have.