Sherry A. Phillips

Suspense Author

Why Keeping Up With The Joneses Could Be Bad For Your Health


Yesterday my husband forwarded a New York Post article to me about the late fashion designer L’Wren Scott who tragically committed suicide last week.

The article was attempting to explain how an outwardly glamorous and wealthy individual can get caught up in wealthy New York society’s version of Keeping Up With the Joneses. That lifestyle the article implies was responsible for her taking her own life.

From The NYPost:

To look at her carefully curated Instagram feed, designer L’Wren Scott was a 1-percenter, a gold-plated member of the international elite: There she was on vacation in India with boyfriend Mick Jagger; at his retreat on the island of Mustique; about to board a chartered helicopter; lounging poolside in gold jewelry and designer sunglasses; stretched out on a private plane, using her $5,000 Louis Vuitton handbag as a footrest.

“I always say luxury is a state of mind,” Scott told The Sunday Times of London last November. “Because for me, it really is. It’s legroom, it’s a beautiful view, it’s great food at a great restaurant you’ve discovered because you obsessively read Zagat, as I do.”

And then, last Monday, she committed suicide, hanging herself in a $5.6 million Chelsea apartment that likely did not belong to her. Within hours, Scott’s life was revealed to have become an elaborate facade — her business at least $6 million in debt, her fashion-world friends and celebrity clientele unaware of her despair.

“Ironically, last week I said to three different people, ‘I wish I had her life, look at her life — she’s always somewhere fabulous and fancy,’ ” stylist Philip Bloch told WWD. “You think, here’s someone who has it all. You just never know.”

When my husband sent the article to me, his header said, “This is another reason New York is the pits.”

I don’t agree with him. I don’t think this problem has anything to do with New York. The problem is something we see every day in every area of the world. It is called Keeping Up With The Joneses and whether you are in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, Miami or even Nashville, Tennessee it is a problem that knows no geographic or economic boundaries.

When you live beyond your means and attempt to live a lifestyle you cannot afford, it catches up to you financially, emotionally and physically.

The story goes on to talk about a writer who was given a $200,000 advance for a book and made a lot of new, wealthy friends. She was invited to expensive dinners and shopping trips. The problem was, she wasn’t really making $200,000 a year. When it was broken down into installments, her take-home from that advance was only $45,000 a year. Yet, she was living a $200,000 a year lifestyle.

When I lived in Nashville, we lived in a middle class neighborhood. Even though we lived in a great school district, one of my neighbors wanted their daughter to be in the best private school in the area. Once her daughter was in that school, she started making friends. She was invited to parties and on shopping trips. Her new peers were taking spring break trips to Europe, buying $500 belts as birthday gifts for friends and driving brand new BMW’s. The pressure to keep up was tremendous.

Whether you make $25,000 a year and are trying to keep up with friends who make $60,000 a year, or you make $250,000 a year and are trying to keep up with friends who make $1,000,000 a year, the problem isn’t the money, the problem is the stress it will cause you.

And as we all know, stress can harm your health in numerous ways.

Unfortunately for Ms. Scott, she saw no way out of her financial situation and the depression and shame she felt regarding it.

A lesson for all of us is this: Live within your means and don’t try to keep up with the Joneses.

There is no softer pillow than a peaceful mind. If you need help getting your finances in order, Dave Ramsey is a wonderful resource.

Have a blessed day!

About sherry

4 Replies

  1. Wonderful wonderful post, Sherry! I learned the “live within your means” lesson in college, thank goodness. It was not fun, and I’m still paying for it, but I’m so glad I learned it on a smaller scale than if I had to learn it now! Oh, and I LOVE Dave Ramsey!

  2. Great article! And so true…we waste so much of our good lives wishing we had more or did all the things we see next-to strangers doing on Facebook. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. jj

    I agree that it’s important to live within your means. Debt is so stressful, and so much of the time, people are spending money to impress people they don’t even know or like…

  4. This is a great article, and it’s so true. It’s also true that a great friend doesn’t care how much you make, and they’ll make sure they can “meet you in the middle” if they truly want to hang out and see you!

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