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Why Do You Care?

Why Do You Care?

Why Do You Care?
Why Do You Care?

So much of the reason Rick and I are in the debt mess we’re in today is because we spent too many years caring about what other people thought of us. We cared what they thought about the clothes we wore, the house we lived in, the cars we drove, the activities our kids were in, etc., etc., etc. Caring too much about what other people thought lured us into making spending decisions that weren’t in line with our real values, and the result was a ridiculous amount of debt. I believe that this mindset is a dangerous and destructive mindset in America that no one like to admit to or talk about.

When we lived in the suburbs, it felt like a constant world of competition. It felt like everyone was caught up in the web of keeping up with the Joneses, and we were too. It was “normal” in our community. We wanted, like everyone else, to be the best, have the best, look the best. 

When we moved out into the country, there was a major league paradigm shift. No one really gave a rat’s arse about what we had, what we looked like, what we wore or what we drove.  The first two neighbors that came over to introduce themselves came over in generic brand jeans and t-shirts. One was on a lawn tractor, looking not at all “proper” for a first introduction. The other was driving a expensive Mercedes SUV.

As we continued to get involved in the neighborhood and meet more and more people, we found they were all different. Some were labor workers, some were professionals. Some dressed up, most dressed down. Some had huge houses, most had modest houses. But there was one thing they all had in common:

No one gave a hoot about what everyone else was wearing, driving, owning or buying.  Oh, don’t misunderstand: When Mercedes guy (who lives in a very simple, unadorned older rambler with his family) got a new big tractor, all the guys wandered over to check it out. They’d ooh and ahh about its bells, whistles, and shiny new paint.  But it wasn’t in an envious way – it was more a form of entertainment, like the bonfires and other casual parties the people here sometimes hold.  The guys get together on a weekly basis to hang out, but it’s not for a trip to a professional sports game – instead, they meet in one guy’s garage, have a few brewskis and try the latest culinary creation, such as deer jerky or a new homemade pizza recipe.

The goal is not to live life in a way to impress others; instead, the goal is to enjoy living life!

Recommended reading – only 99 cents!: The Real Costs of Keeping up With the Joneses

It took awhile for our mindset to change from “keeping up with the Joneses” to “Relax. Just enjoy life!”.  But eventually, as we spent more time observing our new neighbors, we had to inevitably ask ourselves one question:

Why do you care about what other people think of you?

The primary answer was that we were afraid of being rejected. What if they didn’t like us or want to be friends with us? While living in the suburbs and trying half-heartedly to assess our financial fails, we’d ask ourselves this question, but we’d never wait for the answer, as the thought of being rejected by our community or being seen as “failures” terrified us that much. Instead, we’d just go out and buy the latest/greatest to help “solidify” our relationship with the Joneses. It’s not that we didn’t have some real friends in the suburbs, but most everyone seemed to care very much about fitting in with the Joneses. Too much. So much that it clouded their decision-making and led to them doing things and buying things that they could not afford. I know this because of the many conversations most all of us had about struggling with money.

Once in the country, we felt safe enough to explore the answer to that question.  What if they DID reject us and end our friendship? What if they DID see us as failures? Then we went on to determine the answer to that question:

“Well, so what?” came the answer.  If we lost our “friendship” with them, the world wouldn’t end.  There would be other friends.

Then we pursued the answer further as we did more assessing.

Hmm, if we lost them as friends, that’d be one less family we have to worry about impressing.  Hmm! This wasn’t sounding so bad!

As we continued to explore the answers to the “Why Do You Care” question, we began to explore our values. We learned that one of our “values” was to have trustworthy, real and honest friends. We realized that we’d rather have one true friend than two dozen fake friends. Living in the country does that to you. It makes you be okay with your alone time, and it gives you plenty of space to explore the real you – to think about and determine what is truly important to you without outside “interference” from the Joneses.


Be proud of who you are, and not ashamed of how someone else sees you. -Unknown


What we finally determined in our months of self-identification is that we didn’t need to care about what others thought. We didn’t need to “fit in”.

What we did need was to be able to sleep at night, knowing that we are living a life every day that is in line with our morals, values and goals.

As we walk out our journey to debt freedom, it might look to some that we are “going downhill”. Our clothing is no longer “popular”. Our vehicles are old. My hair is no longer highlighted. My makeup is no longer “perfect”. There are days when we head into town covered in mud – or worse – in our work boots and crappy jeans. Gasp!  In the old days, yes: Gasp indeed! But in this new life we’ve created of having to account to only our God and ourselves, woohoo! 


  1. You have been able to turn your life into a positive adventure and it is a win. I agree with everything you wrote and even if it isn’t easy to make changes, sometimes it is the better solution as it permits us to really live the life we want 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Sabrina. We are a work in progress, definitely: but the more we learn not to care what anyone but God thinks, the happier we are. 🙂

  2. Iforonwy says:

    Ah those poor Joneses! My late father would always say (our family name being Jones) well they won’t have far to go to keep up with us!!!

  3. Hey thanks for linking to my post on Add-Vodka! I have been working to ignore the urge to “keep up” more and more and I do think I’ve been doing better for the most part. Though I still get caught up in it sometimes and end up spending too much (as you well know). 😉 It’s a work in progress for sure.

  4. Mr. SSC says:

    Moving to the country and having those kinds of folks around as neighbors… That sounds awesome! I can’t wait! That’s a big reason we want to move to a smaller town and not be in the suburbia part of it. We both miss being around “real” people that don’t care about your clothes, cars, house, other than, “Is there anything we can do to help?” if you suddenly lose all of that.

    Sigh…. I miss real people.

    • Laurie says:

      Oh, Mr. SSC, you will LOVE the country. I don’t know exactly what it is, but it feels like the cities are a bubble and we are living outside of the bubble in the fresh, real air and the bubble people don’t even realize they’re in the bubble. Not that all city/suburbia folk fall into this mindset, but it sure seems like most of them do. There are the occasional “lights” that shine bright and live independently even among the masses of people, and I admire them immensely.

  5. Great advice! Fortunately, with age I care less and less of what others think. It’s tough sometimes not to succumb to peer and societal pressures though. But when you are focused on your goals, your willpower and discipline are stronger.

    • Laurie says:

      It is tough – that’s exactly what we learned when we got out of the peer pressure environment. When we lived in it, we were so used to living that way that we didn’t even realize we were living that way! I admire you, Andrew. You are standing strong and doing what’s best for your family.

  6. Lindsey @ Cents, Sense & Sensibility says:

    Hey Laurie, it’s nice that you guys were able to escape the constant one-up-manship that can come from living in a certain community. We’ve had some recent financial setbacks and one of the big things I’m worrying about is what will people think if we have to sell the car, or rent out our house, or whatever…

    Good for you for finding a way to rise above all that nonsense and meeting like-minded people. Cheers!

    • Laurie says:

      Just remember, my friend – selling that car, house or whatever means increased financial security for your family, and that is a true success. 🙂

  7. I love this post, Laurie. For me it was hard work to keep up with The Joneses. Nothing good came out of it, only debt. I’m glad you found a community that helped you see what’s important. That friendship is important. Sadly, its when you stop keeping up with the Joneses that you realize what “friendship” is about and what’s important. It’s tough but worth it. Thank you, Laurie.

    • Laurie says:

      “Nothing good came out of it – only debt.” Well said, Joyce – well said. Glad you have escaped the cycle as well. I know you dealt with some serious backlash when you made the commitment to change and pursue debt freedom – but you did it! Great job. 🙂

  8. Mrs. WW says:

    Ahhhh. Confidence. It worked in grade school. It still works now. Do whatever it is with confidence and there will be people who still respect you. Try and keep up with someone else and you’ll always be behind them.

  9. Amen to the friends thing. I lost a friend to someone with a bigger, better house many years ago. It was very interesting to me how enamored she was by the things this family had. It made me realize that people treat those who have and have not very differently. I have also come to realize that people will throw themselves at the feet of those who ‘have’ trying to get a little piece of it. Things and status never impress me but I am often curious how they really make it happen!

    • Laurie says:

      Jayleen, you are SO right. People can be so obsessed with the accumulation of “stuff” or being around those that have stuff that they can’t see straight. Too bad. 🙁

  10. Petrish @ Debt Free Martini says:

    You are spot on that the reason why some people are so broke is because they are so concerned about looking as if they have arrived. Not worth it or the money. Leaving this type of mentality is freeing. Great Post!

  11. “woohoo” is right! I find myself wondering if you really would have lost friends in the suburbs if you had stopped keeping up the Joneses there. We are still in the burbs, we drive a 16-year-old van and we don’t have the landscaping that most of our neighbours have. I don’t feel like we’re being rejected because of it though. Do you think the fear of rejection was bigger in your mind than it was in reality?

    • Laurie says:

      Not sure, Ruth. I know that our suburb was different than a lot, as many people who don’t live there have commented on/asked us why the intensity of the Joneses chase there is so huge.

  12. ““Well, so what?” came the answer. If we lost our “friendship” with them, the world wouldn’t end. There would be other friends.” – love this Laurie! I know it can sting on one level when you lose a friend, but if they leave over most things then you really have to wonder if they really were a friend at all. There is just so little time in the day to worry about trying to impress someone…not to mention MUCH more important things to be dealing with. 🙂

  13. I think we care what other people think about us because deep down we all have a desire to be loved. However, we get confused on the type of things that bring or secure that love. We wrongly assume it’s possessions, status, appearance, bank account size…thus leading to the keeping up with the Joneses lifestyle. In reality what brings about love from others is being loving to them first. It’s being who you are without pretensions and caring for them unconditionally. Yes that’s hard but it does allow us to relax and enjoy life.

  14. Good stuff, Laurie. I feel like my need for acceptance and approval from my peer group is pretty normal and healthy: the trick, for me, is finding the right peer group. Sounds like that’s just what you did with your move to the country. Glad it’s working out for you and the fam!

    • Laurie says:

      I find that the more I work to bask in my acceptance in Christ, the less I need acceptance from my peer groups and the more I can focus on loving them and serving them. It may not be the route for everyone, but man, it has spelled F-R-E-E-D-O-M for me. 🙂

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  16. Kirsten says:

    Thought provoking as always. I grew up in a small town in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t wear brand name anything and no one ever made fun of me. We lived in a small house, but I had friends with big houses and friends who lived in trailers. No one really cared. Things do seem much different living in a larger town! I hear a lot of comments from my husband that are very much KUWTJ comments and I wonder how much he’d be doing that if he stayed in his hometown and worked for his dad, on the farm.

    • Laurie says:

      I think it can be especially hard on the men, Kirsten. There is SO much pressure in society among the Joneses for men to be “good providers”. It makes me sad that we as a society have placed so much pressure on them. 🙁

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