Are “THEY” Ruining Your Finances?

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Are THEY Ruining Your Finances?

Who Are They And Are “THEY” ruining your finances?

They say that it is impossible for a family to live on one income. They say you need a bigger house for the tax deduction. They say schools need to budget for tablet computers for every student, even though they say they can’t afford to pay the teachers. They say that you need a compact car or alternative energy car because we’re going to run out of gas. They say you need a big SUV so you’ll be safe on the road. They say you need to be a vegetarian or you’ll die. They say you should eat a lot of meat so you’ll lose weight or you’ll die.

Over the centuries, human beings have been compared to sheep over and over again. I never cease to be amazed at how true that is. If one sheep decides to head down a road that goes right over a cliff, they all follow. Even in history when people march and demand the right to be individuals they still always seem to dress and act alike. I remember the “flower children” of the 60’s. Even with their “free to be me” attitude, they were horrified if a man walked in with a suit and tie, since it was different from what they and their peers would wear.

If children are doing drugs, drinking or just wearing strange outfits, they justify it because “everyone is doing it”. So often, the parent’s response is “If everyone jumps off a cliff that doesn’t mean you should do it, too.” Is that the story we tell them with our actions? Kids are very shrewd and have no tolerance for hypocrisy. We hurt our families and ourselves if we blindly follow the crowd. “They” have set a standard of living that we must live by– no matter what the cost. (I still haven’t figured out who “they” are but I don’t think I like “them” or “their” ideas.)

“They” say you can’t live on one income so many moms, who think it’s best for their families if they stay home, get jobs anyway because “they” say, “You can’t make it!” Never mind that the extra expense of child care, work clothes and (for many) “guilt offerings” purchased for their kids often exceed the extra income. “They” say that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

How many dads have become only figures the kids wave good-bye to in the morning before heading off to two jobs because “they” say this is the world in which we live. Too many people who do this find that later in life their marriages are suffering, their kids are rebellious and resentful of their absence and the employer for whom they’ve worked, investing all their time “providing” for the family lays them off.

“They” say you have to pay to send your children to college so they can become a success and make a lot of money. When did “they” come up with the idea that going to college makes a person successful? How many parents have accrued $40,000 or more in debt for their son or daughter’s degree, only to find the student working in a field that has nothing to do with his degree? A college education can certainly be a useful tool, but it is one that is wasted if the student doesn’t need it or fails to use it.

I find that the most successful human beings are those whose parents spent time with them and had the time to teach them values, self confidence, self reliance and love. You can always lose your stuff, but you can’t lose your values or the knowledge that your parents love you.

Stop basing your financial decisions on what “they” think you should be doing. Financial worries are the biggest cause of stress for Americans, leading to all sorts of physical and emotional problems. These worries are almost always avoidable, but many choose the worries over the common sense.

The point of this story is not that you should never spend any money on anything. The point is that it is important that you decide whether or not spending your time or money some particular way is a good idea for your family. Keep in mind that when “they” tell you you should do something, “they” are often trying to sell you something you don’t really need.

Whenever you find yourself reflecting on your life and you realize you are doing something because “they” expect you to do it, tell “them” to butt out of your life, decide yourself what is really best for you and your family and do it!


If you often wonder where all of your money goes or if you need a more frugal mindset, check out Dig out Of Debt and learn more about how to keep more of your money.



  1. Laurie says

    What an excellent article. Sometimes it’s hard not to get caught up in what “they” think we should do. I’m trying hard to stand my ground, plug my ears, and follow my heart, which I feel is the voice of God speaking to me!! We CAN survive on one income and value our family life more! Thanks for a great encouragement!

  2. Sandi P. says

    I am a grandmother now, and looking back on my children’s childhood, I can trace nearly every major problem we’ve had to daycare or lack of supervision. There are so many things I would do differently now that it is too late.

  3. Sandy S says

    Jill — thank you so much for your awesome articles. I always enjoy them, and you always give me things to think about. My husband was laid off for 18 months, and we made many, many financial changes. You and Tawra gave me many ideas on how to save money. Now that he’s working again, I feel like I have more options for my work choices. Maybe find a job that I actually enjoy, even if it pays much less. Now, I know we can make it on less and still be happy and healthy.

  4. Jaime says

    This is what is called “keeping up with the Jones’s”. But what most people don’t realize is that the “Jones’s” are usually up to their eyeballs in debt. I once heard someone say that they stayed home with their kids because the cost of child care was more than what they would have made if they worked. How true.

  5. Jenny says

    What a sensible article (another great one!) “They” are just one more pressure that we are all put under – as if it isn’t stressful enough at times “making do and mend”. Since we lost our company and our livelihoods we are now living on a greatly reduced income – by 500% – but we are still here. We have had to do without luxuries and nice holidays but we’ve had all them in the past (and realise how much money was actually “wasted”. The one “difficulty” I do have is maintaining dignity with my wealthy friends – they have good well paid jobs with local government – have lots of holidays and spend money lavishly (as I once did)and this sometimes is a pressure I could do without. I am sure I am not the only one who experiences this. In the 1970’s living with three children under 5 – doing a full time job without childcare and a husband who was a firefighter on shift work taught me a valuable lesson not only in money but time juggling. Now three grown up well balanced sons tell me it CAN be done – but heck! it was very hard, relentless work. Now I’m back to balancing money all the time but this is life and we have to get on with it as best we can – what is the alternative? Now that I am a grandmother (and I so agree with Sandi P’s comments … there is so much I would change too, but that again in “life”) I realise our lives are one of constant change and phases we go in and out of. Knowing this is reality and makes it easier to cope – I just hope younger mums and dads get to know this too and realise this part of our lives – managing on less in hard times – is just a phase and one we will get through. It is difficult here in the UK with lots of redundancies and repossessions but having this lovely website – full of ideas and inspiration is such a help. Keep up the good work!

  6. Ed says

    I have two kids who are already mentioning that “everyone else has this”. I think it is wise when possible to not have the Jones’es as best friends. If possible have frugal friends that have similar habits. You can never have too many friends but If you have friends that spend lavishly it will be hard to find common ground. I like to look at thing through the perspective of when I’m on my deathbed will it matter if I had the latest & greatest gadget? I try & minimize what I spend on stuff and spend a little more on travel or experiences. I think those things will be remembered more & you can have less expensive travel if you are wise. One thing I remember from my childhood is spending a few weeks one summer with my aunt & uncle in another part of the country. It cost my parents very little but it is something I will never forget.

    • Grandma says

      Ed, I don’t know if I have said this here before but this is a true story from my 5 year old and he still says the same things and he is now 36.
      I was day caring a friend of his before and after school. One day he came home kind of angry. His friends mother brought her son a meal from McDonalds to school and Raymond felt he would like that to be happening to him.
      I sat down later after the friend had gone home and had a talk with him.
      I asked him why his mom brought lunch from McDonalds. He said because she loves him.
      When I told him the real reason was because she forgot to make him a lunch that morning, he said that wasn’t what mom’s were supposed to do. She shouldn’t forget lunch.
      Then I said that yes I could go to work and hire someone to look after him and Danny while I was at work and he could do without the cookies and milk I made just before he got home. Danny wouldn’t be able to play with his toys like he loves to do. But we could eat out a lot and spend more money. But mom and dad wouldn’t be able to do stuff with them as much.
      Well about an hour later he came back gave me a hug and said McDonalds should be for times when the whole family could go and he really didn’t care what other kids had because he had a mom and dad that would spend time with them.
      Give your children your attention and love and all will be well. Explain finances to them in terms they can understand and I am sure they will see that some things they need and some things they want can’t be had at the first asking.
      Waiting for a treat is not going to ruin their lives Trust me on this one.
      My two sons still come home so we can do the same type of holidays they did as boys.
      This summer there will be 10 of us camping out a Sleeping Giant provincial park for 1 week and 2 weeks at Neys provincial park. We did this every summer for years no disney world, just a family of 4 out and enjoying nature.

  7. Michel says

    I believe that friends are very important, but if you hang out with people who spend without thought, you will most likely to do the same. My friends all make large incomes, but are very conservative spenders. This is what my husband and I have chosen. In college some of my friends were big spenders, I still talk to them a few times a year…but they have a life so different than mine. I am a stay at home mom, we homeschool, I have a huge garden, a small house, older vehicles that we pay cash for. I don’t get my nails done, I don’t eat out, I don’t go to movies. I do go on nice vacations, I do try to make memories with my three great kids, I do go on long hikes, and spend large amounts of time in the library. I cook, I sew, I read, I laugh with my wonderful husband, and kids….priceless.

  8. Nancy says

    Thank you for a great article and like Grandma and Sandi P, I wish I could go back and change time, but time is not so forgiving. I do appreciate the article and some of the posting about friends. I too have had to set boundaries with friends that can go out to eat when and wherever, which we all know can become very expensive. Thank you and God’s peace and blessing to you all for sharing and teaching.

  9. says

    This was an excellent post, and I”m going to share the link on my FAcebook page 😉 :) There’s a quote by Benjamin Frankling something to affect of “If you continue to spend money on things you don’t need, pretty soon you’ll be selling your necessities”..okay, I put that in modern English…but there’s wisdom in that :) :) I’m really working hard to follow my grandparents advice. They lived through the Great Depression. They learned how to deal with money wisely and in return, they had comfortable lives in old age…and very few money worries 😉 :) Thanks for this…great advice :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of CAlifornia, Heather :)

  10. Amanda Speer says

    Thank you for a very timely article. It is so true. I too am really sick and tired of “they and them” spewing their often toxic ideas. My husband and I live on disability in Canada, we have next to nothing left at the end of the month, but we have no debt, we pay cash for everything and have discovered that the best things in life actually cost no money, only time. in a time when we are burying so many young people from heart attacks and cancer, we really need to realize that stress kills. Our prime goal in our life is to reduce stress and your website has been very helpful to us. Thank you again.

  11. says

    In my Bible class, it was mentioned that when showing sheep at events (insert my personal ignorance here!), they use a goat to lead out the sheep. Sheep will follow the goat anywhere. Hmm. what does that goat represent for us? Maybe the “they” you are talking about.

  12. Jo says

    This is the best thing I’ve read in a long time! Forget about ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ ! So many people feel they need to do that – that’s living a lie just for the sake of appearances. Thanks for writing this, and have a great day :-)

  13. deborah says

    Amen and amen! I was pregnant with our third child when I came home from work and realized I had missed yet another milestone in my children’s lives. A sitter had gotten the joy. I asked my hubby what he thought about me staying home. His reply? “I thought you’d never ask!” I have been home ever since that day. That was 28 years ago! All seven kids are grown.

  14. Christine says

    I loved your article and I couldn’t agree more. I have 6 kids and I was a stay at home mom. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. When they were all little they got along very well and I never had to deal with sibling rivalry. They were (and still are) a close knit bunch. I am convinced that it was because I was there full time and I was able to show love and attention to each of them. Today, I work full time as a daycare educator and I adore my job but I feel badly for all the wonderful things that I get to see but the parents don’t. I almost feel guilty when I announce to a parent that their child took their first steps. Sometimes children are actually happier to see me than their own moms and it’s a very sad thing to witness. I would encourage parents to think very long and hard before putting their babies in daycare. Does your family really need two cars? Can your family make do with less? Is it really necessary to buy everything new? It doesn’t really matter which parent stays home but if it is at all possible, one of you should.

  15. Jan C says

    Now that I am a grandmother, I hear my children talking about all the things we did when they were little. They remember having lunch with their dad at a park near his work where we brought sandwiches and milk and cookies from home. They remember the vacation we took to upper NY and slept in the car at the NY state parks. Today, I would probably fear for my life if I did that. Our vacations cost under $200. Gas was also a lot cheaper. It was fun to do the free stuff with the kids. I was the type of mother who cried when the kids had to go back to school in September.

  16. Nancy says

    When I worked full time, I couldn’t manage to save much money, even though I tried.
    After I quit my job( that paid well) due to stress, I decided to take six months off before I looked for another job. I needed to be frugal due to the decreased household income, so I read lots of blogs, books etc. about frugal living. I cooked every meal from scratch, based meals on loss leaders at the grocery stores, stopped eating out, stopped buying clothes, stopped driving unless absolutely necessary, and made wonderful gift baskets, with thrifted items for birthdays and Christmas. Previously, I spent a small fortune on gifts for family members. They loved the gift baskets and told me those were the best gifts, ever!

    All of this new found frugality showed me that we could live quite well, without my income. After six months, I decided that working outside the home did not improve our lifestyle, and I did not look for employment. I have also been able to save much more than I did in the many years I worked.

  17. ini says

    What a wonderful thoughts and insights!
    I am a grandmother who have worked full time for almost 30 years.
    Now I am not working due to too much stress.
    For all my life, I was driven by THEM, did not even know THEY were driving me.
    I paid about $200,000 for 2 son’s college education on my own- without their father’s help.
    Now, it is not easy for one son to find full time job even with the the college education.
    The other son did not work at all after being laid off 3 years ago, but I am still paying for student loan since I am a cosigner.

    The other hurting parts is emotional one besides financial one to me. I do not feel my sons appreciate that much about all the cost/hardship that I paid for their education.

    If I do my life again, I will change it a lot– have better understanding spouse (less materialistic, will agree with me in my staying home to take care of children), will be a stay home mom, will spend more time with children (maybe it could have provided better loving relationship with my boys), will weigh more wisely in college education cost/benefit.

    But, like other people wrote down here, I know I can not change the past.
    I just hope young others will have better insights in balancing of time, work, money,meaning, relationship and true happiness.
    Play own drums, not driven by THEIR beats.

    Thank you for reading my comments.

    • says

      I heard a famous well educated woman say to a young man “Why are you not working and going to school. Why do you think you can only go to school?” The young man said “It isn’t possible to go to school and work at the same time.” The woman said “Tell that to Lincoln.” He then said “Well times were different then.” She replied “Times weren’t different. People were different.” That is the truth for sure. We have feed ourselves and our children a whole pack of “lies” of the way things can only be and that is our down fall. One of the biggies is that parents must pay for their kids college education and it is their responsibility to do that and the other is that you can’t make it on only one income in this world so mom’s must go to work.

  18. MJ says

    You know I have tried 3 times to comment on this article and each time I have erased what I wrote. I am a white collar working mom with a blue collar working husband. We have one child who, per her teacher, is at the top of her class, focused and responsible for her age. I focus on my family, our needs and yes, our wants. I have rich friends, the kind who’s everyday grocery shopping car is a Porsche, to friends that are barely making it each month. Anyone can have money issues, anyone can waste their time, it all comes down to common sense and how you are at controlling your wants. Who cares what “they” have, I only care what my family has. So what if my friend has a Porsche, I am happy with my Saturn becuase it fits my family. Who cares if they have a house where my house can fit into one room, less for me to keep clean. Who cares if she does not have to work because her husband makes in one month what my husband and I do in a year. I don’t stay awake every night trying to figure out how to keep up with them. I am happy with my life and my family, that I don’t have to look over the fence and wish I had what they had. That is the real underlying reason why people feel they need to keep up with “THEM” becuase they are not content and happy with what they have now. Again, it does not matter if you are a stay at home mom or a working mom, what matters is – are you happy with your life, do you have love in your family, are you doing things together, and are you content with what God has blessed you with”? If you are, then you could care less about what “THEY” have or what “THEY” say because “THEY” don’t matter. Love this or hate this, this is my 2 cents.

    • Patricia says

      That is very true. Whether you work outside the home or are a stay at home mom, it should be what works for you and your family, not what “they” say you should do.

  19. WestTXGurlAHS says

    Jill, you are SO RIGHT!!! We have three daughters–23, 20, and 16. I am blessed to be a stay-at-home wife and mother, and also blessed to have gotten to homeschool our girls for the past eleven years. I have always been comfortable with “who I am” and the life I have chosen, so the nebulous “they” never cut much ice with me! If I think something is right and good, I’ll do it; if I think it’s wrong, I’m gettin’ outta there! Not everyone is as independent as I got to be, or has the opportunities I’ve had. I grew up in the country, so always had something to do when I wasn’t in school. Our days were filled with work, not free time to try to fill. My parents and my husband’s parents raised us to do what we think is best for ourselves and for our children. In turn, we have tried to pass that legacy on to our daughters, and I think we have done that pretty well. Yes, we had to be the “bad guys” many times over the years, and deny them something that they were SURE they had to have. Clothes that “they” were all wearing. Electronics that “they” all had. Movies that “they” all got to see. Music that “they” all got to play. We did not intend to be our children’s “friends”, their equals; rather, we intended to be parents to our chlldren, and teach them right from wrong, necessity from luxury, selflessness from selfishness. Not that they did without! Far from it. But now that they are young ladies, they know how to wait on something they’d like to have. They know how to budget and make wise shopping decisions. They know how to serve others. They know that Sunday mornings are for church, not sleeping late. And now, since we have raised them to be pleasant and helpful, NOW we get to reap the rewards and be their friends! Yes, we’ll always be their parents, but as they grow older, our relationship has grown, too, and changed, and it will continue to change as we age and they mature even more. Our daughters have the “roots” that have allowed them to have “wings”, and to do what they know is right, rather than what “they” say they ought to be doing. You and Tawra have a most excellent website! I have learned so much from you both, plus have gotten positive reinforcement at times when I needed it the most! Bless you both for what you are doing as a service and ministry to the rest of us!!!

  20. Susan says

    What a blessed article! I have always been one to be careful with my money.I never had to have what every one else had. My granny taught me well. Today I am debt free and own my own home. I have never had a credit card. I just recently got a debit card because it is easier than carrying cash. Have a blessed day!

  21. nancy says

    Regarding the “necessity” of a college degree:
    I have a relative whose mother insisted her son get a college degree. He lived at home the first few years and then went out of state to a university. He took seven years to get a degree. He was not motivated, and his mom wrote his papers for him.

    After he graduated, he got a job at UPS and ten years later, that is what he still does.
    Sometimes it is the parent’s desire, not the kids’!

  22. gertrud says

    So true,wonderful article. Due to some health problems we had to sell our house and building another one in a different state, near family, but since we always lived within our means and always had friends like the “MYERS AND SMITHS” and not the”JONESES” we will be without debt again in about 1 months.
    Still thank my and my husband”s family to have taught us to be thankful what you have and not always be wishing for stuff which in the end is meaningless and unneeded.
    Love to you and your family and all the others “friends” who connect with you. Gertrud

  23. lisa says

    I have never listened to anyone regarding wealth and what my husband and I should/shouldn’t do when it came to money and material things. Even my mother would try to tell me how to raise my kids or what decisions to make and I didn’t listen. Good thing. My husband and I put our heads together to come up with daycare solutions/one-income strategies/bill paying/work and life balancing. We worked together to watch our kids while one of us was at our job. Then the spouse would work while the other watched the kids. We didn’t buy a big house according to what the bank said we could afford- DH knew we could afford a small home and so we ignored the bank. We have a manageable mortgage and through many job losses, we could still pay the bills. Material things are just that. We volunteer our time for the homeless and see how much material things can’t help in times of need. The kids are still young enough and live home but we have dinner nightly and manage sports/homework. I help with english/foreign language and DH helps with math/science. We both help with archery/baseball/boy scouts. We have struggled financially at times and are in a downhill slope right now but we’ll muddle through. We just think hard, work harder and not buy material things.

  24. Tricia says

    Great article!! I was a SAHM when our kids were little, then felt the pressure from society to get a job so I could contribute to our income. My part-time minimum wage jobs didn’t help that much on paying bills and put us in a higher tax bracket. We ate out more (fast food) spent more on things we thought we should have to keep up with the “Joneses.” Unfortunately we live in a materialistic society. I returned to being a full time housewife over a year ago. and I LOVE IT. A lot of people don’t understand why I wouldn’t want to work and have my own money. The answer is It’s just not worth being stressed out and feeling guilty all the time. I have learned not to worry about what everyone else thinks and just do what is right for you, your husband and family. Just be happy!

    • says

      That is part of society’s problem right there: it isn’t “his” money or “her” money, it is “our” (you and your spouse’s and your family’s) money. Whether one spouse earns the income or both. I’ve hated having a separate checking account from my husband’s. :)

      • says

        I totally agree with you Daisy. When you get married you become one in everything so why do people think they should keep their finances as his and mine?

  25. Mary Jane says

    In regards to having friends with similar values concerning money management…if you are unsure whether or not some of your friends (who earn and spend more than you do), are in fact your friends, just wait long enough, stick to your values and let them stick to theirs. If they are your friends, everything will be fine and they may even come over to your side a bit. If they are not truly your friends, well, time will have them drifting away from you because of your different spending habits. Money, and how people relate to it, has a way of showing people up for their true colours.

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