There I stood in the appliance section of Home Depot, perusing all of the high-end stainless-steel refrigerators that seemed to scream, “Expensive!”

“What do you think about this one?” I asked my husband, who was reluctantly following behind me.

There’s one thing you need to know about my husband: He’s my complete money opposite. I have the tendency to be a bit of a spender, while he’s a tried-and-tested saver. He also takes on a role as my financial compass — he’s the one who pulls me back down to earth when I’m starting to get a little too far away.

“Honestly, I don’t even know why we’re looking at these,” he said with an exasperated sigh, “Our fridge at home is only a couple of years old, and up until yesterday you never had a complaint about it!”

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He was right. I never had a problem with our refrigerator. It worked flawlessly and it definitely served its purpose. I never had a bad thing to say about it.

That is until I saw that an acquaintance on Facebook had posted a photo of her newly remodeled kitchen with fancy, matching stainless-steel appliances. Suddenly, I was overcome with the feeling that I had to have that very same thing.

Keeping Up With the Joneses

You know, when I actually sit down and put that in writing, it all seems so stupid, doesn’t it? Yes, it may be asinine, but I think that the desire to one-up your neighbors is basic human nature. And there’s no denying that this competitive itch makes it difficult to separate the things that we want to have from the things that we feel like we should have.

I never thought that I’d be one to try keeping up with the Joneses, and it even pains me to admit it now.

But I’ve caught myself attempting to do just that on more than one occasion — and not just when those stainless-steel kitchen appliances lured me.

Social media definitely doesn’t help. When we all have our lives constantly on display, there’s seemingly endless pressure to stay at the same level as everyone else — or preferably a notch higher.

The Bottom Line

Pressures aside, I’ve managed to identify a simple strategy that has helped me keep myself in check from keeping up with the joneses — one so easy that it’s almost laughable. What’s my genius method?

Well, whenever I feel tempted to buy something (particularly if it’s a larger purchase), I ask myself one question: Why do I want this?

Like I said, it’s surprisingly basic. But it’s also incredibly effective. All too often, I find myself internally responding with, “Well, because so-and-so has it,” instead of more practical replies like, “Ours really needs replacing” or “This will be a huge help.” If the only reason I can think of purchasing something is that someone else already has that same thing, I walk away.

The strategy of asking myself has definitely saved me from making tons of impulse purchases based on poor motivations. And even better, it’s saved my husband from many headaches and even more exasperated sighs.