How far would you go to look rich? Researchers at Fintonic asked more than 1,000 Americans what their limits were when it came to keeping up appearances, and the results were quite surprising. The survey found that almost 30% of American men were willing to assume some type of debt to give the impression of enjoying a luxurious lifestyle. This was compared to roughly 24% of American women.
- Those who earned a higher income generally had more debt. Roughly one in 10 Americans earning more than $80,000 said they were willing to assume more than $5,000 in debt to give the appearance of living well.
- When broken down by gender, the study revealed one in 12 men were willing to take on more than $5,000 in debt to appear rich compared to one in 20 women.
- Similar results are found across the globe. Many Mexicans (84%) and Chileans (79%) are also willing to go into debt to appear wealthy.
Why are we still keeping up with the Joneses?
The Fintonic study suggested many consumers are feeling the pressure to fit in. Reality TV has contributed to our desire to have what we see in the media, leading us to spend more and more, even to the detriment of our financial future. Constant depictions of outrageous wealth are leading consumers to spend far beyond their means. The study also found one in eight Americans are willing to take on $1,000 or more in debt in an effort to lead others to believe they are living extravagantly. “The increase in both traditional and social media glorifying expensive habits is playing a huge role in these regions believing a luxury lifestyle is attainable, causing many to spend beyond their means and accumulate debt,” said Sergio Chalbaud, Fintonic’s CEO and founder.
What you can do
One way to hold on to your cash is to pay attention to what you’re watching on television and viewing on social media. If you find that consuming too much reality television or spending too much time on social media is filling you with envy, it’s time to cut back on your viewing and browsing habits.
Also pay closer attention to the people you’re spending time with. Do your friends constantly brag about their latest car purchase or designer duds? The pressure to fit in will eventually get to you and may cause you to spend more to keep up. “We have all heard the term ‘keeping up with the Joneses.’ For some reason, we feel inferior or inadequate in comparison to our neighbors if we don’t have possessions at least equal to or perhaps better than them. Left unchecked, this desire can have serious financial effects on your budget, psyche, and possibly your credit score,” said financial expert Daniel Muhlestein in The Real Costs of Keeping up with the Joneses.
If your friends love to show off, be aware of how your spending habits are affected by their displays of wealth. If you know you’ll feel tempted to spend to look more like them, reevaluate which social invitations you will and won’t accept. It may be time to find a group of friends who are less materialistic.
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