Movin’ Out

4751090314_e73651cd7e_zRather, I should say “We’re” movin out.  Or, to put it more aptly, we’ve already moved out.  Out, away from the rat race, from the temptation to keep up with the Joneses.  This Billy Joel classic is one of our family favorites.  We played it constantly as we were preparing to ditch our suburbia home for life in hick country, and the song still brings the temptation to flip the bird to rampant consumerism to this day.

Every verse of this classic song reminds me of the lies people fall prey to and the mistakes they make that keep them broke:

Anthony works in the grocery store
Savin’ his pennies for some day
Mama Leone left a note on the door
She said “Sonny move out to the country”
Ah but working too hard can give you
A heart attack, ack, ack, ack, ack, ack
You ought-a know by now
Who needs a house out in Hackensack?
Is that all you get for your money?

We work ourselves to death in order to keep up with the Joneses, so that the world will view us as successful, when in reality, the world doesn’t really give a sh*t about us.  Our attempts to be accepted and approved of are futile, yet we keep at it, digging ourselves deeper and deeper into debt, making financial freedom and a comfy retirement a far off dream.

Sergeant O’Leary is walkin the beat
At night he becomes a bartender
He works at Mister Cacciatores
Down on Sullivan Street
Across from the medical center
And he’s tradin’ in his Chevy for
A Cadillac ack ack ack ack ack
You ought-a know by now
If he can’t drive with a broken back
At least he can polish the fenders

We go, go, go, working to achieve “success”: driving the latest model cars, wearing the coolest clothes, buying the latest gadgets, and doing every social thing that others say are signs of being rich and successful.  We put it all on credit cards, convincing ourselves that if we can make the payments, it’s all good.

Oh, there are bumps in the road that sometimes wake us up for a brief moment, like a job layoff or a maxed out credit card, but most of us, as soon as the “bump” is over, go back to living the fantasy life where we spend more money than we have in order to satisfy desires that are superficial at best.

Financial Peace: Restoring Financial Hope to You and Your Family

It wasn’t until we moved out and away from the rat race that we truly saw the Keeping up with the Joneses lifestyle for what it truly is:

You should never argue with a crazy mi mi mi mi mi mind
You ought-a know by now
You can pay Uncle Sam with the overtime
Is that all you get for your money?

The definition of insanity, they say, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  We keep keepin’ up with the Joneses, hoping that one day the lotto will hit, or that big raise, that big inheritance or other windfall.  But it never does.  And then suddenly we’re at 65 with a crapload of debt and an anorexic retirement account.  And we’re SOL, left to work at a job we hate in order to at least try to pay for food and medical costs. And we look back, wondering what happened and why we don’t have the cushy lives that other people have, living large in retirement, traveling, wintering in AZ and eating at fine restaurants.  We envy them because they must have received their lotto winnings or inheritance windfall, and we didn’t, and it’s not fair.

But in reality, what likely really happened is that those livin’ large in retirement forsook instant gratification purchases, budgeted, spend-tracked, and lived frugally in order to make sure that debt and a lack of savings didn’t take them down.  Instead, they took action, dumping debt, saving money, and trading in the Joneses’ lifestyle for financial peace.

And it seems such a waste of time
If that’s what it’s all about
Mama if that’s movin’ up then I’m movin’ out

They saw the waste of time and money that keeping up with the Joneses is, and they walked away from caring whether or not others viewed them as successful.    Walking away from that care gives you the freedom to do with your money what is truly best for you and your family.  Because out here, no one gives a crap about what you wear, what you drive, or if you’ve tried that great new restaurant downtown.
You don’t have to leave the city and move to the country to grab hold of this revelation, my friends.  You do have to educate yourself, however, and you do have to make a commitment to devise some goals, a plan to reach them, and commit to staying on track regardless of what other people think.  Can you handle it? Can you buck the system long enough to achieve financial security for your family? Are you willing to live like no one else lives, so that later, you can live like no one else lives?  I’m willing to bet that you can.  But whether or not you will, that’s up to you.

48 comments

  1. Ironically I think Billy Joel at one time had one of the biggest houses in the Hampton’s. 🙂 But I get the point. 🙂 Yeah, I have no idea who these people are anymore who feel like they need to keep up with someone else. Not only is it shallow, it’s unoriginal as well.

  2. The Stoic says:

    I’ve found that developing a strong philosophy of life is imperative to being able to live a genuine, authentic life. We fall prey to advertising and the opinions of others when that philosophy has been neglected. It is then we try to keep up appearances with friends, family, and even acquaintances. When the philosophy is strengthened we don’t feel at odds with society, we see them being at odds with us, but it really doesn’t matter, because we know, a deep intuitive knowing, that we are living our most authentic lives. A good life is not something to be attained, it is a daily practice that is to be lived.

  3. Great song! Thanks for spreading the word. I’m glad that we’ve gotten out of the rat race to keep up with the Joneses…sure it’s still tough sometimes but we have our eyes on the prize-Financial Freedom. I find financial peace a much better lifestyle than one chasing material things and trying to get the latest and greatest to keep up.

  4. Even Steven says:

    I’m doing my best to keep up with the MMM, Frugal Farmer’s, 1500 Days, etc of the world. Getting there one day at a time, it’s coming I know it is.

  5. We were talking about this, how I don’t see anything good about “keeping up with the Joneses” at all. Recalling how I got into debt, trying to fit it, trying to do and be like others. It accomplished nothing good.
    I think I am happier than I ever been discovering who I am and what truly makes me happy. Sure wasn’t when I was trying to keep up with the Joneses.
    Great post, friend.

  6. KIm says:

    I thought for a second you were going to say you’d moved off the farm! Yes moving out of the rat race is something we’ve been trying to do, but I still feel we are in there a bit. If not in keeping up with the Joneses then in having to trade our time for work. Someday we will leave that behind as well.

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, it’s called “Creative marketing”. 🙂 I know you’ll get to the point you want to be at sooner rather than later, Kim. You guys are kicking it!

  7. HA! I was like Kim and thought you were going to tell us that you were leaving the farm, which I couldn’t believe. 🙂 The Keeping Up mindset is something that I think everyone has battled at some point. And it is tough when we see others with things we would like for ourselves and that little voice inside our head telling us to just do it. One of the best things Chris and I have always done is had an intentional vision of what we wanted our life to be. While it’s changed over the years, like when we decided to become parents, it’s always been our guiding light. Because there are times when I have that pang of envy and battle the temptation to keep up, but knowing it’s not a part of my vision helps me admire it and move on.

    • Laurie says:

      I think we all do that, Shannon, at least on occasion. It’s tough work swimming upstream. When everyone is going one way, and you’re going the opposite way, you have to remind yourself regularly of the “whys’ and that’s what you and Chris have done, and it’s working wonderfully for you. 🙂

  8. Mr. SSC says:

    Mrs. SSC and I were discussing this same thing yesterday. Her point was that in 4 years, when we leave the rat race (all things going as planned) it will be a lifestyle change rather than “retirement”. Currently, we pledge about 10-11 hrs/day 5 days/week to our jobs and it doesn’t leave much time for enjoying life. Throw in the fact we’re in Houston, so there are no mountains, no 4 seasons, and more; and we can’t wait to walk away from it.
    I’ll take free time to be a stay at home parent over keeping up with the Joneses any day of the week. Way to put it in perspective.
    Mama, if that’s movin’ up, then I’m movin’ out.

    • Laurie says:

      Woohoo!!! Another rebel. 🙂 Mr. SSC, you will LOVE your new life – I just know it. Free time is indeed worth the sacrifice of the Joneses lifestyle.

  9. Mrs. Maroon says:

    “How to escape the rat race” was the exact phrase Mr. Maroon typed into Google when he stumbled across Financial Independence. I mean, we all know that Google knows all, but who would have imagined that it could also change your life (for the better) too?? Living the frugal life is more than saving money. It’s actually more than retiring early – though I’m REALLY looking forward to that part. It’s about making the choices to shape your life into the one that you really want instead of conforming to what you’re ‘supposed’ to do. Now, back to that farm living… Can I start this afternoon?

    • Laurie says:

      “It’s about making the choices to shape your life into the one that you really want instead of conforming to what you’re supposed to do.”. WOW. Well said, my friend. Come up for a visit to farm life anytime. It’ll motivate you even more than you already are. 🙂

  10. We moved out (in our minds) about two years ago, and our only issue (and it’s a small one) is that we still live amongst the Joneses and while it’s not hard on us to avoid the Jones lifestyle, every now and then it’s tough on our 8 year old son. Just two weeks ago he showed me this sneaker that 4 of his friends have. PS the sneaker cost over $100!!!! I informed him that we would not be paying that for him, but he was more than welcome to save up or spend his own money on it.

    • Laurie says:

      LOVE it! That’s exactly what we do here. 9 year old son wants a tablet, but he’s saving up for it for himself. How much sweeter will that possession be for him, knowing he worked and saved for it?

  11. AverageJoe says:

    Isn’t it funny that the people who make lots of money normally don’t care about all the trappings, but the people around them do? I’ve worked with many wealthy people and it’s generally spouses and kids who flaunt it while the person making it is more in love with the process.

    • Laurie says:

      I never thought about it that way before, Joe, but you’re so right!!! Looking at the wealthy people I know, the breadwinners don’t care, the spouses are livin’ it up. Too weird.

  12. You did the smart thing, Laurie! Sometimes you have to shake that Etch a Sketch and start over with a clean slate. We just did it and even though it can be a little unsettling, I wouldn’t want to go back to where we were and what we were doing. No way, no how.

  13. I had no idea what you were moving out of!! haha. I like the spin here. : ) And becoming debt free and staying away from trying to keep up with what the Joneses are doing is so important to financial freedom. Hence my renting an apartment and driving an 06 Civic while my student loans are being paid off.

  14. Petrish @ Debt Free Martini says:

    I no longer keep up with the Joneses and the day I gave up that mentality was a blessing. Good luck with everything and I think its great that you both have decided to take charge of your life.

  15. lyle @ the Joy of Simple says:

    Great post Laurie and a nice use of Billy Joel’s lyrical talents 🙂

    “You don’t have to leave the city and move to the country to grab hold of this revelation, my friends…” – So true…and as you know, you’re preaching to the converted here! In fact, my latest post is on similar lines…without Billy though!

    I for one am glad you all decided to chuck the rat race for a greater payday of peace, contentment and gratitude. It’s hard work as you know and there are times – albeit few and far between – when you wonder if you’ve done the right thing, made the right choice. But these moments last but seconds and then the gratitude washes over you and you get on with your day! 🙂

    Take care Laurie and my best to all.

    Lyle

  16. Laurie, this is pure gold: “We work ourselves to death in order to keep up with the Joneses, so that the world will view us as successful, when in reality, the world doesn’t really give a sh*t about us.” I could not agree more. We spend so much time trying to be who we think we should be, and not enough time on who we want to be. It’s so awesome that you’re living the dream that you want! Woohoo!

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