You know the ones.
Mountains of college debt, with some European travel debt, a great wardrobe full of trendy (and expensive) pieces and you better believe they drive a WAY more awesome car than you (probably leased).
The ones you just want to shake some sense into?
But the ones that sometimes make you feel like you’re doing something wrong by not keeping up?
How do you talk with them about debt repayment? How open are you? And how do you keep it from being or coming across as judgmental?
For me, walking on this path is about ME! I knew when I started that there would be some friends and some people who would be really hard to deal with. Especially the ones who go out to lunch every single day. And then go to the mall after work. There would be some jealousy on my part that I couldn’t do that any more.
But then there’s this little part of your mind that hopes that by telling them what you’re doing and why you’re focusing on debt will turn the lightbulb on for them. Because let’s be totally honest – sometimes, this path would be so much easier to walk if the Joneses you were keeping up with were also actively trying to be out of debt and maximize their debt repayments every month.
With the Joneses that are somewhat close in my life, I’ve talked with them about why I can’t keep up anymore. When I decline their invitations, it’s not about not wanting to hang out with them. It’s about wanting to put my finances first. Many times, I let it be a conversation about values – I value them, I value hanging out, but I’m no longer valuing doing expensive things.
There’s frequently a “why?” aspect, and I’ve tried to be as transparent as possible with people. I let them know that I got into a bad place with my debt, and that it made me anxious. I didn’t feel like I could keep living the indebted life. So I made a change, and every day I’m choosing to stick with those changes.
Sometimes people understand and are interested. Some have even joined me or been extremely open to doing cheaper things.
And some keep living their outsized, heavily indebted lives. Now when I look at them, I remember that until I had that lightbulb moment of deciding things had to change, I WAS them. So I don’t judge, and I don’t preach. I just live my life and am transparent about the changes I’m making.
They’ll wake up one day and be done with that life. And they’ll know just who to come to when they want to talk.
What about you? How do you handle or talk to the “Joneses” in your life?