3 Reasons to Kiss the Joneses Goodbye

This post is written by Craig Ford, writer at Money Help for Christians.

With their 2.7 kids waving to everyone from the front door of their perfectly manicured lawn, we sometimes idealize the Joneses next door.

But if you had a chance to peek into the Jones’s window, you’d find there are unpaid bills in every corner. Sure, they’ve got a lot of stuff, but they just don’t own any of it. There’s the constant pressure to buy the newest and latest products. The Joneses would barely make it if they made $30,000 per year or $130,000. They rush to work. They rush to the mall. And others follow suit.

The Joneses pay the price for it, and we will too – if we try to keep up with them. 

Pressure. Depression. Arguments. Stress. Unrealized expectations. Disappointments.

That’s why our family has kissed the Joneses goodbye. We’re not going to conform to the rampant pressure to earn more and buy more. Instead, I’d suggest that Christians should embrace a simple life where they live on less than they make.

The Benefits of Simple Living and Living Below Your Income

You are not dependent on a larger income.

When making big decisions, my wife and I often remind each other not to allow money to dictate our calling. As an example, we decided to work as missionaries before we knew what missionaries got paid. Yes, there are times when it is necessary to alter a course because of a money concern, but by living simply, money has less influence on our life decisions.

Some people feel ‘stuck’ in high income jobs because they can barely keep up with all the expenses already. The idea of following a calling and doing something that pays less is virtually impossible because they are dependent on that large income to support their lifestyle. As a result, they usually have to do a lot of things they don’t like to do because they can’t risk doing anything that might threaten their income.

Think of the possibilities that would open up if you learned to live off $30,000 – $55,000 per year regardless of your income. That means almost any profession is a possibility because of your lifestyle choice.

As an example, when a wife (or husband) is able to stay home, it is often because the family has learned how to afford living on one income, not by learning how to make more money. Many ministry-related occupations (missionaries, preachers, children’s home supervisors, Christian school teachers) are staffed by people who have embraced some form of simple living.

You have funds available to clean up any past financial mistakes.

None of us has a perfect financial past. However, those mistakes can be undone faster when you simplify your lifestyle.

As the gap between what you earn and what you spend gets wider, you will have more money to decide how it should be spent. The family making $60,000 but living off of $40,000 will get out of debt faster than the family making $60,000 but living off $59,999.

For many people, their fixed expenses chew up every last dollar. Get control of your spending so can have the ability to choose how you spend your money.

You’ll be able to actively serve people by giving to ministries, individuals, and charities.

This is the most exciting benefit.

First of all, it honors God. Secondly, it is an extremely satisfying way to use your resources.

Imagine a life with no debt, adequate savings, a plan for your future, and resources to help others. Wouldn’t life be a little more satisfying if you were spending your time finding the best children’s home to support instead of trying to find the credit card with the best balance transfer interest rate? Wouldn’t you make a greater contribution if you spent your money helping fund short term mission trips instead of paying credit card interest?

Simple living is a much healthier alternative to trying to keep up with the Joneses. Are you ready to pucker up and kiss the Joneses goodbye?

Craig has just finished writing an eBook called Transforming Your Financial Diet:  7 Steps to Simple Living and Generous Giving. The book is only on sale until March 9th.  As a special thank you to Heavenly Homemakers readers you can get 15% off. At checkout enter the coupon code “homemakers”

To learn more or get your copy, click here.

Be sure to visit Money Help for Christians where Craig promotes a frugal, simple, debt-free, and generous lifestyle so Christians can faithfully maximize their resources by putting them at the disposal of God’s Kingdom.

Comments

  1. says

    Most of us out here who think they are living frugal could stand to tighten up the belt even more. There are just too many indulgences in our society. Americans are so sensual about everything. It all has to feel good and stroke our ego.

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  2. says

    Laura – have you read Radical by David Platt???? It was an amazing book…. I passed it off to my pastor and he wants to make it mandatory reading for the church! :) It speaks along those lines that were talked about above.

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  3. says

    I really enjoyed this post! I was raised in a preacher’s home and am married to a pastor. We are frugal! We have to be. We want to be.

    I love a simple life. While money is a necessity to live, all the luxuries of the “American way of life” are NOT necessities.

    Hope to hear more on this topic, Laura!!

    Kristy

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  4. says

    We said goodbye to the Joneses when my husband joined the military. I’ve never known anyone to get into so much debt until I met the military families here. They all are trying to keep up with those in the service who can afford more than they can. It’s ridiculous! Going $50,000 in debt because Major So-and-So has something you want? No thank you. Lower enlisted live on very little so I can’t imagine keeping up with a Major. I’m happy with my cars, my homemade food, and raising my children myself! You can keep your BMW and $100,000 wedding set. Simple please! And I bet we’re a lot happier than those who spend everything they make on having the “best” stuff first. Our way of life also helps us be living proof that God always provide for your needs. It amazing!

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  5. says

    My husband is a Christian school teacher and is well on his way towards finishing up his sixteenth year. We’ve been married for twelve. We have four kids and the entire main level of our house could fit in the living room of some of his students’ homes. It’s great to go to graduation open houses at those homes, but my kids are often a little jealous of them. They have mountains of the latest toys, piles of the latest games, plush carpet and shiny countertops (okay, that last part is my own jealousy).

    We have a smallish house to begin with (when I look at most of our friends) and have just purchased an even smaller house on an even smaller lot. Our intention is to pay off that smaller house in a year, save money like little squirrels and be able to purchase a hobby farm a few miles outside of town with either no mortgage or a very small payment. To quote Dave Ramsey, “we are living like nobody else so that later we can live like nobody else”!

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  6. Teresa says

    What really amazes me is how did we make it when we were in debt. We have been debt free for over 1 yr, (no house and car pymt) We still do not have money because everything has gone sky high in price, and of course that includes health, car, home insurance, not to mention food prices. It really breaks my heart for young families struggling just to get food on the table and pay the electric bill. I wonder how bad things are gonna get before there is truly a big wake up call to those who don’t try to live simple.

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  7. katherine says

    this question is a little random (and perhaps slightly off-topic), but relates to something tara said in her previous comment…

    my husband & i strive to live simply, but we’re a ministry family and need to live simply as well. he’s recently voiced that he’s concerned our kids will one day resent that fact that we can’t pay for their college, buy them cars, provide the coolest toys all their friends have.

    as a young mom (with only two right now — 3 yrs and 18 months), i’d love to hear how you help your kids fight that, laura (and others).

    thanks!

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    Kate Reply:

    I grew up in a poor family. My parents didn’t buy us the coolest toys, but we always had toys to play with and that was enough. I bought my own car when I got a job. I paid for my own drivers ed. I
    paid my own car insurance. I paid for my own college. I never resented my parents. I never will. I am so thankful that my parents couldn’t afford things. We were a $100,000+ income until I was 8, so I knew what the rich life was like. Then my mom stayed home and we were pretty poor. But I wouldn’t trade being raised that way for anything. I value what I have. I am good with money. Most importantly, I know what’s important and I know who to trust to provide for me and my family. I don’t think your kids will be resentful. Pray about it and trust God to help you raise your kids with the appreciation for what they have and with the ability to live within their means.

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  8. says

    I am not Laura but I have raised a slew of kiddos. Hubby and I were very intentional on teaching the children about money from a very early age. There are many ways you can teach your children to be good stewards of the money God blesses them with. Here is what we did
    1. each child got an allowance on payday starting at age 5
    2. We got the cool bank that has 3 separate slots for savings, spending and tithing.
    3. Every penny that came in for the child was divided into the three categories.
    4. They had to save at least 5$ in spending so they did not nickle and dime themselves buying junk

    Back in the day :) there were no books designed for children concerning money. Now there is a plethera (sp?) of books from a Christina perspective training children.
    We taught them about what God has to say about money and debt and modeled for them to wait and save, wait and save!

    Thank God in front of your children for all the blessings. We were in the ministry full time when the last 2 kids came along and we worked hard to make sure they understood all good gifts come from above.
    Hope that helps.
    Blessings,
    Jill

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  9. Erica says

    We try to be intentional about not buying the kids stuff, but the grandparents do buy a lot. Just today, my 5 yr old asked me to please donate all the magnetic letters and duplos because “they” made so many messes in her room that she could not clean them up. It reminds me of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. You know Ma had a whole lot easier time cleaning up her house because the girls each had a rag doll as a toy and not loads of stuff. No carpet so covered with letters and duplos that no one could walk to the bed. ha ha It was a lesson to me today about how a simple lifestyle is not only cheaper, but easier to maintain.

    BTW, some of my friends and I had a chat the other day and those of us whose parents financed our college all goofed off a lot and took a while to finish up, while those who had to work, take out loans, etc., picked a major, worked HARD, and got out quickly. They also seemed to value their degrees more since it took so much sacrifice-blood, sweat and tears- to earn it. Not to say parents should not pay for their kids college, of course, but it was interesting to see how necessity makes one “grow up” and take responsibility very quickly!

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  10. Morgan says

    After 3 years of wanting to be at home with my babies, my husband and I decided to trust God. I contributed half of the income to our household but amazingly enough we still have plenty. Of course we do without (cable, latest fashions, newest gadgets, etc) but we are happy. I know I am where God wants me to be and He has blessed us because of it. But we really did have to give up “keeping up with the Joneses”. I would never want to go back to that old life. Life is good when you trust God!

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  11. Jen says

    This article is great and I agree with everything. However, at the same time, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having some of the latest and greatest things. So often, we think that when we see people that have nice things that “oh, they must be in debt, they are living above their means, they must have so much debt” rather than thinking “Wow. Perhaps God has really blessed them.” As Christians we don’t have to not have nice things. But like others have said, we should be intentional and ensure that we are using our money to honor Him. Don’t get me wrong, I use coupons, buy things on sale and squeeze our budget with the best of them but I also buy pricey jeans and sometimes splurge on a pair of shoes. Just my nickels worth I guess.

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  12. says

    Thanks for the encouragement to live simply. As is true in a variety of arenas, less is typically more. If you want to help your family embrace the simple lifestyle, however, try a missions trip to a needy people. You’ll never be the same.

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  13. says

    Love this post! It’s so true…. not having debt is so freeing. We are a family of 4 (soon to be 5) and don’t make much. Actually 2010 was a good year for us, my husband made $22k…. we’ve never made that much!! It’s hard, and I would love to make $30k a year so I could have some room to save, but we’re fine on what we have….and we’re debt free. God always provides!

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  14. Maura says

    My tip would be to have a food storage so we money is tight one month or you lose one or both incomes, then you at least have food and supplies for your family. Places like Azure Standard and Costco and/or Sams Club make it easy to order large qtys of grains and other food basics in bulk.

    When times are hard and you have a food storage, you don’t have to struggle then between rent/mortgage or putting food on the table.

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  15. Kelly says

    Laura, thank you so much for sharing this post! And I have to say, I enjoyed reading the comments just as much as the post! So many wonderful words of wisdom in keeping our priorities straight. Being on several missionary trips has brought a lot of perspective that we truly are spoiled – even to be able to have a choice of what we eat, drink, wear … Our hearts need to stay focused on solely loving and praising God and not allowing ourselves to get distracted (and indebted) to the things of this world! Blessings, Kelly http://www.facebook.com/TheNourishingHome

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  16. Katie says

    Enjoyed this post and had to share a funny story. My husband and I just put in our first Roth IRA. We went to a financial advisor and he gave us the talk about our money future. He then asked a (supposedly) rhetorical question: “You are expecting to make more in the future than you do now, right?” We both immediately answered “no”. His jaw literally dropped! He then asked again. We said no again and explained that right now we both work (together in a children’s home with our child), but we’re expecting to change to a one-income family when we move on. He really didn’t know what to do about that and stumbled through the rest of his talk! :) It can be fun to go against the grain sometimes!!
    For those of you living on so little – remember that you have another home where you will go someday where you will be given mansions! And that is the home you keep for eternity!

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