How to Stop Being Jealous About Money

jealous about money womenHave you ever looked at another person’s life and wished that their clothes, their cars, and their vacations could be yours? It’s not uncommon, and I’ll admit that I’ve fallen prey to money envy.

When my husband and I first got married, we had great jobs and a couple thousand bucks from wedding presents, but we didn’t spend much money. Seeing our friends blow cash on romantic trips and new cars was somewhat depressing, and even though I knew we were saving for a new house, I still had major jealousy issues when they showed up with new cars and I was still driving my beat-up Jeep Wrangler.

Beating the Budget Blues

Even if you know you’re making good financial decisions, it can still make you wince to watch others effortlessly afford a home remodeling or a vacation to Hawaii. It can seem like all your hard work, budgeting, and scraping together is useless. But it’s important to remember that appearances are not always what they seem. By reigning in your perceptions, you can help banish thoughts of money envy so you’re happier with your own budget, and are less likely to splurge on things you can’t afford.

1. Get the Facts
The average American household’s debt rests just under $16,000, which is proof that some of your friends’ spending probably isn’t free and clear. When you feel “less-than” because you can’t afford the latest must-have purse, take comfort in the fact that you spend within your means. Plenty of expenditures on the latest technology, trips, cars, and other stuff is put on credit, which means thousands in interest and debt.

While it may be taboo to ask your friends about their finances, rest assured that by keeping a tight leash on your expenses, you’re minimizing the amount of debt you will need to pay off later. Sure, you drive a beater car now, but by pinching your pennies (and more), you could score a nicer ride with minimal debt in the future. When in doubt, remember that appearances are deceiving: A seemingly well-to-do neighbor might actually be drowning in debt, and that’s nothing to be jealous of.

2. Choose Your Friends
Social situations often highlight what you can’t afford. If your best friends are willing to blow a couple hundred dollars on a pair of shoes, you might be more likely to follow suit – or feel bad about not being able to. That’s why you should choose your friends and your activities wisely.

Don’t cut off super-spenders from your life completely, just be choosy with the time you spend together. If window shopping with a high roller makes you feel jealous, stick to money-free activities, like a day at the beach. Then, save spending activities for friends who have similar budgets and financial strategies.

avoid window shopping with free spenders

3. Ask Questions
You can’t ask your friend what she spent on her cruise outright. That would be rude and could strain your relationship. But you might say, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to go! How long did it take you to save up for it?” And she might say, “Oh, I just used our credit cards,” or “We just put away $50 a month until we had it saved!”

Only be envious of smart strategies and frugality, not getting deeper into debt. That way, you’ll be inspired to be budget-conscious instead of being jealous or splurging on a trip.

4. Back Off
If spending time with a certain friend or neighbor makes you feel depressed about your financial situation, it might be a good time to take a break from him or her. Hanging out with someone who constantly spends and flaunts wealth can lead you to spend more than you can afford or feel bad about yourself, neither of which will help you reach your long-term financial goals. There’s no shame in taking some time to retool your expectations and feel better about your financial planning without the constant pressure to spend more.

5. Look at the End Game
Remember why you’re not spending money in the first place. Whether it’s to save for retirement, get your budget under control, or pay off debt, it’s better than hemorrhaging money just to keep up with the Joneses. Print a picture of your financial goals and place it somewhere you’ll see often. That way, when you’re feeling jealous of a neighbor’s new ride, you have an instant reminder of why you’re a smart saver and not a silly spender.

Final Word

At times, it has been hard for me to save money when all my single and just-married friends are out blowing cash and having fun. But when my husband and I were able to build and move into our own house by the time I turned 23, a couple of years of penny-pinching was totally worth it. Now I’m building equity while some of my friends are scrambling to pay off mountainous debt. And yes, I still drive that old Jeep Wrangler.

Have you ever had issues with money jealousy? What did you do to get over it?

  • Valencia Higuera

    Great article! I’m a big saver and it has definitely paid off. I’ve learned over the years that people with the most “stuff” often have the most debt.

  • Tyler S.

    Anyone can drive a fancy car, but not everyone can afford one. There’s always going to be someone with more nice things than you. It’s part of life. You need to learn to get the best out of your situation, and be thankful for what you’ve got!

  • Kris

    Here’s a sign I saw on our most recent ski trip: “For a happy life want what you have”. You can earn more, save more, work more, want more. But you’ll also be chasing, and never get there. So maybe the best way to stop being jealous is to appreciate what you already have.

  • Carla Rose

    Great post! For me its not about “stuff” its about experience, education, the ability to be financially secure and all the things that still cost money. I don’t care about fancy cars and exotic trips, but I do care about freedom and options – that’s where my jealousy comes from.

  • Jacqueline C.

    You guys are totally right. I think it’s OK to covet someone’s drive and money smarts, just not the money, period. Too many other factors in play!

  • helloworld

    Nice article. I think it is also worth mentioning that happiness is not obtained from superficial things like cars, clothes etc. Long term happiness comes from things like hard work, reaching your goals, making a difference.

    When you compare yourself to others, you should compare yourself to more than the few friends around you – and you will realise you are very lucky.

    And like you said, you should re-evaluate your friends if they are people who place their values in material things and appearances.

  • John @MarriedWithDebt

    Great tips to empower people to feel good about getting out of debt. It’s tough at first, but once you focus on priorities it becomes easy.

  • hyundaiguy

    Great article. #2 is very important.

    I am a recent college graduate and a lot of my friends bought Audi’s, Benz’s and Bimmers. As a car fanatic, it drove me nuts and was downright embarrassing rolling in my Hyundai. I wanted to save for a house but the temptation to take out a lease on a BMW was overwhelming. However, meeting up with some of my more humble and frugal friends has been a great eye-opener. It makes a world of a difference when you surround yourself with people that have the same mindset as you.

    Now, my priorities have shifted and plan to save more than ever after I pay off my Hyundai.
    I even set goals to drive my Hyundai to 500,000 miles by learning how to do easy maintenance and reading the owner’s manual cold. Is it possible? Probably not but hey, it’s fun to try. In the end, I’m glad I adopted a proactive mindset thanks to my humble friends.

  • eemusings

    Oh god yes.

    It’s a matter of perspective, really. Independence is so important to me; I’ve been independent financially since 17, but that does put me behind a lot of my peers. I also have a job that I love and am good at, but that isn’t lucrative. I would love to simply take off and travel the world, but financial stability is equally important to me. I have to remind myself to look at the broader context when I get envious of others.

  • Credit Card Processor

    Jealousy is all in the mind which is a result of wrong perspective. Most often than not, jealousy happens when we don’t look at our blessings. Each of us is abundantly blessed which we can always magnify. A strong support system is important- a very supportive spouse and a strong church.

    When it comes to money, delayed gratification always proves to be the best. If you didn’t practice this, you wouldn’t have moved to your own house at 23.

    Best regards,

  • Kretek

    As of late, I am not jealous of anyone around me. I might have credit card debt, but at least I do something about it. I know a girl who only makes the minimums and has $7,000 on a 29.99% APR card and, yes, it’s maxed out. I have three 0% interest cards and one card with a 15.24% APR. Not great, but not terrible.

    My other friend has no money and has no budgeting skills. She makes no extra income (I make about $1,000 a month in extra income) and she blows money like it’s her job. I might not live as extravagant as them, but when I can go out on the 25th of the month and they’re screaming bloody murder for a paycheck, I’m going to wine cellars for sampling.

    Life is good, even with debt.