This is a post from Make Love, Not Debt staff blogger, Abby.
Despite having what one might call a healthy sense of self-confidence, there are moments when I feel overwhelmed with envy for what other have. If I’ve been eyeing a dress online and deemed it irresponsible to purchase it, I’ll seethe just a little bit when I spy a co-worker wearing it the next week. This is particularly acute with some things more than others – when I see people planning weddings, for instance, without much stress or monetary consideration, I recall my own less-than-thrilling year of being engaged, and envy them for their stress-free experience. Why does SHE get the chiavari chairs without a single thought of expense or waste? Why couldn’t I?
More often than not, these are stupid emotions that do little but allow me to wallow in self-pity and waste some time. Circumstances, I have to remind myself, are always different. Would I have picked the fancier wedding chairs, even if cost weren’t an issue? Probably not, because that’s not how I think about money. If I want that dress so badly, I could make room in my budget for it, surely. And beyond that, these financial moments of jealousy are often without a full picture of how the object of envy really lives. It’s very likely, based on my conversations with her, that the coworker with the dress can’t really afford it, and has put that new frock on credit. Just because others appear to have what we want doesn’t mean they’re any better off than we are.
But this kind of envy has a way of feeding itself into anxiety, and it’s worrisome enough that I’m trying to keep an eye on it. My husband and I visited family over Thanksgiving, and as we were driving around, we noticed a number of houses that were for sale.
“How much do you think these go for?”
“Well that’s nice for whoever can afford that but WE NEVER WILL.”
Will we be able to afford that much house one day? I certainly don’t know. I know what our current savings goals are, and while it sometimes feels like we save and save and never get to those hugely far away numbers required for quaint houses in the suburbs, I have no idea what the future holds, so why the glum attitude? Why the jealousy of people in houses whom I’ve never met? People who may not even be able to afford what they’re living in, or if they can, have nothing to do with me?
It’s a financial conundrum of a different sort, and I’m working through it. How have you handled financial jealousy?