These days, it’s easy to look around and feel like everyone has more money than you. I mean, how else can they afford these luxury cars, expensive homes, and high-priced meals at fancy restaurants? And, does everyone know some sort of secret to making money that you are unaware of? It just doesn’t add up.
Meanwhile, you’re over here working your tail off, renting an apartment, driving a used car, and making just enough money to get by. So, what is the difference between you and everybody else? Is everyone richer than you, or is it all just a big facade?
The truth might surprise you.
Does Everyone Have More Money Than You?
Here’s the hard truth, a lot of people have more money than you. There are plenty of people that handle their money wisely, invest consistently, and make bank every year.
But does everyone have more money than you? No. And despite the highfalutin lifestyles of the people you assume have money, you might be surprised to discover a lot of them have significantly less money than you. Let me explain.
There is a big difference between ‘having money’, and ‘spending money’. Truth be told–and you probably know this–you don’t need to have money in order to spend it.
In fact, the vast majority of people that drive a nicer car than you, wear nicer clothes, or live in a more expensive home, borrowed the money to purchase them. They either took out a loan, or used a credit card. Therefore, in reality, they just owe a lot of money to somebody else. Remember, when you borrow money, it has to be paid back.
So, to answer the original question, “why does it seem like everyone has more money than you?” Well, most people are good at pretending to be wealthy by spending money that isn’t theirs. They are good at creating the illusion of wealth; which is exactly what we will discuss next.
The Illusion Of Wealth
This is the concept of living beyond your means, in order to create the illusion that you actually are wealthy. It is a dangerous way to live, because it can all come crashing down at any moment.
Warren Buffet summed this concept up beautifully when he said, “You find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.”
What he means, is that when you live beyond your means, it’s easy to create the illusion that you are wealthy to the people around you; for awhile. But, when times take a bad turn–whether it be a stock market crash, or a company-wide layoff that leaves you jobless and unable to pay your monthly debts–the illusion of wealth disappears, and you are left broke and desperate.
So, why is the illusion of wealth so prevalent in our society these days? I believe it can be boiled down to the following 2 things.
Nearly Unlimited Opportunities To Borrow Money
If someone wants to buy a pair of shoes they can’t afford, or a brand new Lexus that’s way beyond their means, they can borrow money to do it. And, when people have the ability to borrow money to pay for things they can’t actually afford, it’s easy to create the illusion of wealth.
If you constantly feel like everyone has more money than you, I’m willing to bet that social media has created an illusion of wealth in your mind.
I mean, how often do you see somebody posting about the marital struggles they are going through because of all the debt they’ve accrued? Never.
And, how long would you really follow somebody that posts stories bragging about the CD player in the 12 year old Camry? Probably not long.
Social media can be a fun, relaxing escape from everyday life, and there are a lot of people worth following. But you have to remember that most people only post about the best, most expensive and luxurious parts of their life. And, if you let yourself get wrapped up in the world of social media, it’s easy to start feeling like everyone has more money than you; even if it’s really just an elaborate show.
The Truth About Money
If you feel like everyone has more money than you, I want you to pay close attention to what I’m about to say.
If you see somebody living a more expensive lifestyle than you, it does not mean they have more money than you. In this day and age, the more likely explanation is that they are in debt. Like a duck swimming through water, on the surface they look calm and collected, but underneath, they are treading water as fast as their financial webbed feet can move.
In fact, more often than not, the wealthiest people around you, are the ones living a simple life within their means. They might not have fancy cars. They might not have the world’s most beautiful house. But if you were to dig into their financial life, you would find some generational wealth piled up.
Stop Comparing Your Finances To Others
The more you compare yourself to others, the more likely you are to start feeling self conscious about your own finances. And in all honesty, does it really matter how much money other people have? Additionally, does worrying about it bring any kind of positive benefit to your life?
Basing your financial contentment on the financial situation of others around you is an exhausting exercise that will never improve your life. In fact, it only serves to bring you misery.
With that in mind, maybe it’s time for you to stop focusing on the financial situation of others, and instead, focus on improving your own.
Improving Your Financial Situation
One of the best things you can do to stop feeling like everyone has more money than you, is to focus on improving your own financial situation. I mean, will the income of your friends really matter when you are sitting on a big pile of cash and zero debt? I’m going to bet not.
So, what are some things you can start doing to improve your financial situation, all while taking the focus off of other people’s money? Here are a few things I recommend.
Set Financial Goals
Financial goals are the key to wealth in my opinion. Without a few good goals to work toward, how can you gauge your progress, and what is there to celebrate?
Before you even dig into your finances, take some time to come up with at least 3 financial goals.
The first goal should be a short-term goal that you can accomplish within the next year. For example, a good short-term financial goal might be to save $1,000 this month. Or maybe, you want to completely pay off one of your credit card balances. For a great post on one of my favorite short-term goals, check out our post on how to save $10,000 in a year or less.
Your second goal should be a mid-length goal. I like to keep these between one year and five years. These can be something like saving for a down-payment on a house, or maybe saving to buy your next car in cash. These can also be investing goals, like building your investment portfolio to $100,000 over the next 5 years.
Your third goal, should be a retirement goal. This should be a specific number that you would like to save by the time you reach the age of 60. Whether you want to have $2 million, or $10 million sitting in retirement, this is a goal that you should continually be working toward.
By the way, if you have more goals for your financial life, you don’t have to stop at 3. You can set as many as you like. Just try not to overwhelm yourself with so many goals that you never actually reach any of them.
Get On A Budget
After you set a few financial goals, it’s time to get on a budget. And I’m not talking about a mental budget you set up in your mind. I mean a legitimate budget with which you track your giving, saving and spending.
For more on budgeting, be sure to check out these related posts on BeTheBudget:
Focus On Financial Contentment
I know what it’s like to feel like everyone makes more money than you. But this feeling will not benefit your financial situation in any way. Instead, if you want to improve your finances, focus on financial contentment.
Allow yourself to be ok with the car you drive, the place you live, and the clothes you wear. Accept the fact that a lifestyle beyond your means is not a lifestyle worth living. And remember, there is a big difference between having money and spending money. Creating an illusion of wealth in order to impress others is not a worthy cause. Instead, choose to be content with your financial lifestyle, and focus on improving it one step at a time.
Get Out Of Debt
Like we have talked about so much in this article, and on BeTheBudget as a whole, the sooner you can get out of debt, the better. Can you imagine a life without payments? Can you imagine the freedom that comes with never owing anybody money?
For more info on getting out of debt, be sure to check out or debt payoff calculator. Also, be sure to read our post: How To Get Out Of Debt Fast (Even On A Low Income).
Pay Yourself First
In the words of Ricky Bobby, “If you ain’t first, your last.”
When it comes to saving money, you have two choices. You can save money before you spend any of it, and live off whatever money is left, or, you can spend your money and save the leftovers.
If you really want to improve your financial situation, there is one winner though: save first. Many people refer to this as paying yourself first, which is a term I love.
Before you pay your bills, or spend money on fun and entertainment, be sure to set enough money aside to reach your financial goals.
However, the one exception to this rule is giving. If you are going to give, it should come before your savings. Just don’t let spending cut in front of saving.
The power of compound interest is something you need to capitalize on if you want to be wealthy. And I’m not talking about that measly .01% you are making in your supposedly ‘high-yield’ savings account. I’m talking about a solid investing strategy with a focus on long-term, steady growth.
At BeTheBudget, we recommend investing in index funds. They are essentially a low-cost mutual fund that follows a particular index of the stock market, like the S&P 500.
If you’re looking for an easy way to start your index fund investing journey, we recommend Vanguard. They literally wrote the book on index fund investing.
If you feel like everyone has more money than you, it’s important to take a step back and consider what you are basing that feeling on. Remember, just because the people around you are driving fancy cars and living in expensive homes, does not mean they have more money than you. It would be foolish to assume that. In fact, the only thing you really know is that they spend more money than you.
Also, all the time you spend focusing on other people’s financial lives, is time away from improving your own. Stop comparing yourself to others. Get on a budget. Get out of debt. Start saving and investing.
If you stop focusing on the illusion of wealth around you, one day, you might just find yourself sitting on a big ol’ pile of actual wealth! Now, that’s what I’m talking about.
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