Financial Advice

How Much Is Envy Costing You?

Envy: painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another, joined with a desire to possess the same advantage ~ Webster’s Dictionary

No one wants to admit to feeling envious. Yet envy could be driving you to live beyond your means. If you are constantly spending more money than you earn, you could be the victim of envy and it could be costing you big money.

According to a December 2016 debt survey at Nerd Wallet, the average American household carries $16,061 in credit card debt. That means you are paying about $1,300 a year in interest alone. That is a sobering figure. You don’t want to add to it with envy. Here is a guide to determine if you are suffering from envy.

Social media has upped the opportunities for envy a thousand fold. It used to be that you only had to “keep up” with your neighbors and friends. Now, practically everyone is on social media and seemingly has the perfect life. Pictures of perfect picnics in landscaped yards, gorgeous homes, lavish lifestyles, and pricey electronics fill the screen. Every “like” you click on could be a hidden dart of envy. If you are constantly checking Facebook or Pinterest and obsessing about what everyone else has, it could be a sign of envy.

How do you feel when you click on those images? Does it make you reach for your credit card for an online shopping frenzy, even though you are dangerously near the credit limit? Do you justify your purchases by comparing it to someone else’s $3,000 couch or $10,000 vacation?

Are you envious of your neighbor’s brand-new SUV? Does it make you want to trade your old reliable van in for a brand-new model, even though the monthly payments would be cutting into your household budget? According to Edmunds.com, the average car payment is $479 over 48 months. That would put a serious dent in most people’s budget. Stifle those feelings of envy and practice a more sensible approach by learning how to cut costs on everything from insurace to fuel.

Your friend just walked into work with a brand new pair of boots. Instead of pretending that stab of envy is indigestion, figure out if your budget could afford a little splurge. I needed a new pair of boots, as my old pair had developed holes in the sole. I checked prices at several stores and the average was about $30. Then I went to Gordmans and found a nice pair on clearance for $15. I used a 20% off coupon and a bonus $5 off coupon for being a loyal customer and the final price was only $7.50! The clerk was so flustered she kept trying to give me the wrong change.

So how do you combat the painful effects of envy? Contentment is the opposite of envy. When you are spending less than you earn, you can embrace the concept of enough. You can work towards that goal by acknowledging envy, but not giving into it. Be happy with what you have and create a spending plan that doesn’t balloon past your budget. Make sure to include a few little treats so that you don’t succumb to feelings of jealousy.

Don’t let envy eat into your bottom line. Learn to embrace the concept of enough and let contentment enrich your life.

This article by Shaunna Privratsky first appeared on The Dollar Stretcher and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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