How to keep up to date can save you money

Choice of bread wise

When I was new mom, I attended a group of parents where the father next to me mentioned setting aside $ 130 a month in his daughter's education savings account. 529. At the time, I had just opened my baby's 529 account with a check from his grandparents, but I had not had the idea of ​​making a monthly transfer. . I checked our finances to make sure we could save $ 130 a month and set up an automatic transfer.

It has been more than seven years and this monthly transfer continues. When my youngest son was born, we also found a way to transfer $ 130 a month to his 529 account.

I'm sure the man I was standing with had no idea that his disposable remark would have such a profound effect on the savings accounts of my children's colleges, but that experience has proven that wanting to "keep up with the pace Jones "can often be a good financial decision. I wanted to keep pace with another parent and so I worked to have my savings rate match hers.

While keeping pace with the Joneses is often badly taken, this type of financial competition can help you save money and make better financial choices. Here's how to make it work for you.

Understand the anchor

Part of the reason why other people's consumption habits can be such a powerful trigger for financial decisions – good or bad – is due to a cognitive bias called anchorage. This quirk requires us to base ourselves on the first number or price indicated as the "normal" price of something.

For example, in the case of my 529 contributions, the other parent stated that he had set aside $ 130 per month and anchored this amount in my mind as an appropriate monthly contribution. If he said he had set aside $ 30 or $ 350 a month, my anchor bias would have retained these numbers as the amount of contribution to be achieved.

You often find that anchoring damages your financial health when you compare yourself to Jones. Let's say that instead of 529 contributions, I had discussed monthly car payments that day. If someone had said that he was spending $ 650 a month for the payment of his car, this amount would have become the amount that I initially thought was a reasonable amount to spend each month. With an anchor of $ 650 a month, I might have ended up getting a much larger car loan than I could afford because my mental anchor was very high. (See also: 8 ways to build your financial self-esteem)

Useful comparisons

So, if hearing others talk about how they are saving or spending money can give you an idea of ​​what is normal or reasonable, here are two ways to make sure you get comparisons that will help, instead of hurting , your net result.

Look for role models of money

According to Sarah Newcomb, Ph.D., Behavioral Sciences Specialist, author of the study The Trap of Comparison: The Impact of Social Comparisons on Our Financial Welfare, Comparing You to a Person That you admire and respect (which also resembles you or a financial path that you can realistically follow) changes your perception of the differences between your financial lives. Instead of feeling as though you are not up to the task – as if you are comparing to a peer who earns more or more than you – you will make some sort of comparison of aspirations, where you will think how to become more like your model. (See also: 4 lessons of money that you can learn from Jones)

Calculate the average expenses of your peers

Status Money allows you to anonymously compare your finances with those of your peers. This can help you understand the budget categories on which you spend too much depending on what is considered average, rather than that of a particular individual. While a friend or family member can give you a clear idea of ​​what to spend, seeing the average among all your peers can give you a lot more clarity.

Choose your friends wisely

We all have friends who spend their money like it's old-fashioned, and it's easy to feel compelled to follow. And then, there are friends who seem to encourage you to make purchases you do not need.

While there is nothing wrong with staying friends with these types of fat players, it's important to recognize the effect they have on your budget and make plans in result. Plan to see expensive friends in environments where you can not spend money – such as at dinners or on nature walks – to completely eliminate the temptation to stay up to speed.

Otherwise, surround yourself with people whose financial habits you want to emulate. Then you will not feel any conflict between your desire to save and the desire to please your friends, because these two things will be aligned. (See also: 5 types of friends that can hurt your finances)

Jones can be a useful criterion

Keeping up with the Jones is a problem if you are simply trying to save face in an expense competition. But knowing exactly how many people save or so little are spending can give you a useful indicator for managing your own finances. The trick is to recognize when to use the Jones example and when to ignore it.

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How to keep up to date can save you money