Their Grass Isn't Greener - It's Just a Different Shade
Budgeting expert and financial advisor Nathan Lippincott shares why you shouldn't compare your success to others. Learn about finding an accountability partner and what you should (and shouldn't) be discussing to help each other reach your goals.
On your financial journey – as in all aspects of life – it is important not to compare yourself to
others. We all know the saying "the grass is greener on the other side" meaning people always think other have it better. But this mentality is exactly why people remain in debt.
Don't Compare Yourself to Others
I remember in the beginning of our marriage, when we were struggling financially, my wife and I would always compare ourselves to our peers. We would say, “Why can they do (insert activity or purchase) and we can’t?”
There was one instance where some good friends purchased brand new furniture. Sunni and I could not figure out how they were able to afford furniture; we sure couldn’t! So one day, I
jokingly asked them. They answered by saying, “Well, we don’t pay for satellite.”That gave me plenty of food for thought. I was paying a little over $100 a month for satellite TV
because we enjoyed watching it. That was the equivalent of more than $1200 a year, an amount that very easily would purchase a new couch.
It was not that they had more income than we did; it was that they chose to utilize it in different ways. This made me realize that comparing myself to others was futile, since we have no idea of anyone’s debt, income, inheritance, budget or even priority choices.
Find an Accountability Partner
The only time I recommend comparing financial situations is if you decide that you want to find an accountability partner. This is someone who is also trying to maintain a budget or pay off debt. Someone who can call you out and guide you back when you get off track.
However, if you decide to use someone outside of your immediate family for accountability, do not compare numbers. The goal is not to grow competition – or, worse, envy – but to hold each other accountable to your own budgets. You do not need to know their numbers to ask if they have held to their monthly plan. They do not need to know what is in
your retirement fund to ask if you have set aside your pre-determined contribution amount.
The accountability should be with the protocol and process, not the literal money. Not only do you want to avoid human nature’s tendency for bitterness or resentment, it does not even make sense because it would not be a comparison of “apples to apples.” Two different families have two different incomes, bills, lifestyles, and needs.
Just remember to live the life you want, always aligning yourself with your long term goals. It
may take sacrifice and it may feel as if others are (perhaps unfairly) ahead of you on the journey, but do not let comparison divert you from your goal. Nobody knows your story better than you.