Comparing yourself to others. It f*in sucks, doesn’t it?
How many times have you been scrolling through social media only to think to yourself “damn that girl is so much prettier than I am” or “bloody hell that guy has way bigger muscles than me?!” I know I’m guilty of it (especially the guys having bigger muscles than me because, you know, gains).
Unfortunately, comparing ourselves to other people is a psychologically engrained part of human nature. According to the Social Comparison Theory, individuals assess how successful and accomplished they are by comparing themselves to the accomplishments of similar people (Festinger, 1954). We don’t just compare how we look, or how ripped our bodies are, either. I mean, have you ever felt inferior to someone because they earned more money than you? Or felt completely disheartened because someone else your age bought a house that you can’t afford even though you’ve been saving up for one for years? Or felt embarrassed because you happen to have more credit card debt than a stranger on the internet?
It is so normal to compare your personal financial situation to others and, honestly, those feelings are probably never going to completely go away. There are some things, however, that you can do to minimise how often you compare your financial position to others. Check them out below.
Compare Yourself To Who You Used To Be
I honestly think that it’s so important to redirect your attention away from the other person that you’re comparing yourself to right now. Let’s say, for example, that you’re currently comparing yourself to that random girl you went to high school with who now somehow flies around the world in first class and has three holiday homes in Italy (seriously, how the hell does she pay for these things?!). Adjust your mental mindset to, instead, start comparing yourself to the person that you were last week/month/year.
It doesn’t matter how big or small you think your financial achievements have been, spend some time focussing on any financial WINS you’ve had recently. Paid off $200 from your credit card debt last week? Congratulate yourself on being that much closer to debt freedom than you were before. Deposited $1000 last month into a savings account dedicated to buying your dream home? Focus on how great it feels to be that little bit closer to hitting your savings goal. Earning slightly more money than you were last year? Remind yourself why it is that you deserve that pay rise. Hell, even if yesterday you spent some time writing down your financial goals and forming a plan to start working towards them, that still means that your financial position is in better shape than it was yesterday.
Remind Yourself That Your Financial Journey is Personal
Personal financial journeys are just that. Personal. You don’t know what anyone else has been through, both personally and financially, and it’s important to keep reminding yourself of that. Sure, that random girl from high school might fly first class everywhere, but how do you know she hasn’t been working her ass off for years to be able to afford that or how do you know that someone isn’t funding that lifestyle for her? The short answer is. You don’t.
If you catch yourself comparing your financial situation to someone else, stop and think about the fact that you have no idea what that person has been through. They could have inherited a lot of money because they lost someone really close to them for all you know. They might be able to afford nice things because they’re up to their eyeballs in debt, or because they’re smart enough to have won big on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Whatever it is, let them do them and you just keep doing you.
Check Your Privilege
Humans don’t just compare themselves to the people that they aspire to be like. We actually dedicate a whole lot of our time comparing ourselves to people that we believe are worse off than we are. Why? Because it makes us feel damn good about ourselves. Seriously, the Social Comparison Theory calls this phenomenon the ‘Downward Social Comparison’ (Festinger, 1954). Before you get on your high horse over the fact that you would never do this, think about all the times you’ve judged how bad someone looks without make-up on, or how ugly your neighbour’s house is, or how shit your colleague is at their job. All of these things boost your own ego because you believe that you’re better than someone else.
When it comes to comparing your financial position to someone that you believe is worse off financially than you, just take a step back for a moment and check your privilege. Trust me, it helps me to stop comparing my financial position to others quick smart. Let me show you what I mean…
I mean, who the hell do I think I am to be judging others for being in debt or not having as much money saved as me when I have had a hell of a lot of privilege in my life? I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I don’t have huge medical bills to pay for, I don’t have a staggering amount of student loans, I don’t have to work to support my family and I live in a country that has decent welfare. Regularly checking my privilege makes it a lot easier for me to stop comparing my financial situation to others.
Use The Comparison To Work Even Harder
Like I said before, it’s pretty unlikely that you are ever going to be able to completely stop comparing your financial situation to others. After all, it’s human nature. If you are in a position where you can’t seem to stop comparing yourself to someone else, then use that comparison to push yourself to work even bloody harder towards whatever it is you want to achieve financially.
Maybe your younger brother just paid off his credit card and is now living his best debt-free life. Suck it up, congratulate him and use his success as motivation to pay off your debt even faster. Or maybe your mate just bought that expensive white Zimmermann jumpsuit you’ve been eyeing off for weeks but knew you couldn’t afford? Fight the temptation to pour red wine all over it when she wears it on a girls night out, tell her how great she looks in it and work harder to save your money so that the next time you see a jumpsuit you just HAVE to have, you will be able to afford it.
Personally, I’m not saying that I’m ever going to be able to afford to fly first class around the world, or own three houses in Italy. I am sure as hell going to hustle hard to try and get there though. Why? Because comparing myself to that girl from high school is motivation for me to work even harder, and even smarter, than I was before.
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The Stingy Bitch
Based in Sydney, Australia.
Created in 2020.
This site and all of it’s contents are provided for entertainment purposes only and do not constitute personal financial advice. All products that are mentioned are general product advice only, not personal product advice. Not all options are presented and my opinions are subject to change. All content and posts have been prepared as a general summary only and is not intended to be financial advice with respect to any particular matter. This post should not be relied on with respect to any particular matter. If you have questions about any aspect of the content or this site or otherwise require personal financial advice, you ought to seek financial advice. The author disclaims liability to any person who relies on this post.
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