Go Beyond Keeping Up With the Jones’ – Change Your Peception, Change Your Net Worth

By in Mind and Money, Money Management, Wealth | 22 comments

If you keep up with the Jones you’re destined for a bleak financial future.

I’m intrigued by the magazine articles that specify how to get a designer look on a budget. But there is a fallacy with these articles and I’ll tell you why.

Keep up with the Jones – High versus Low

The premise is that a designer spent $40,000.00 designing this room, and you can get an approximate look for $9,000.00. Think about it for a moment. Do you think $9,000.00 on furnishings and decoration for one room is an affordable price? Who are they writing for? The budget room is usually high priced too.

The article continues by explaining that the couch in the high priced designer room cost $20,000.00 and the low priced copy is only $4,5000.00.

$4,500.00 is a lot of money for a couch!

Is that really the lowest price for a comparable sofa? No way! There are high quality sofas for $1,000.00 or less.

Yet, if you believe the High versus Low, then you will get on the bandwagon that trumpets $4,500.00 as a bargain couch and $9,000.00 as a low priced room.

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Yet, by reading that magazine or watching that HGTV show, where they remodel on a budget and then spend $1,000 on a ceiling light, or $4,500 on a ‘budget’ couch you’re being told what is affordable.

This is a lie!

$9,000.00 is a lot  of money for most folks to spend decorating one room!

And for most folks, $4,500 is a lot of money to pay for a couch. 

Don't keep up with the Jones'. Your growing net worth will thank you.

Don’t Let Others Create Your Reality

There is a psychological premise called “anchoring”. Your mind latches on to the first price as an anchor, then the subsequent price is compared with the initial one, and if it’s lower, it seems like a bargain.

Perception is everything.

What if I came up to you and said I could redo your room for $9,000.00. Would you immediately think, “Wow, what a bargain?” I don’t think so. You’d probably think it’s a bit pricey, especially if you’ve ever shopped at Ikea!

In fact, I doubt if you would hire a decorator for that price quote, if you were starting out and living on a budget!

Don’t let advertisers, marketers, the Jones’ or anyone else set your priorities.

Don’t worry about keeping up with the Jones’, because they are in debt and broke.

Don’t kill yourself trying to have the latest and greatest.

You can look awesome in a sale outfit for under $70.00. You can decorate a room beautifully with thrift store finds and bargains from TJMaxx.

You can live an awesome life without spending a fortune.

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Drive an old car and put the money you save on payments in an investment account.

Shop for garage sale finds, refinish and you have a gem!

Be aware of your income, your savings and your spending. You can live great on your own terms! Don’t let others dictate what you “need or want.” 

Don’t let anyone else’s values, preferences or lifestyles define your lifestyle. By making smart money choices, in line with your income, you’ll grow your net worth


This article was originally published several years ago, yet the premise still holds true today. Please enjoy this vintage post.



  1. The basic premise is to spend within your means. If $9,000 is within your means so be it. Do not go into debt to furnish your place or exhaust your savings on furniture. We replaced a couch and chair a few months ago and followed those rules.


    October 19, 2011

  2. The other caution on decorating is that many people do it too much. If you are bored with your house, try re-arranging the furniture instead of replacing it. It’s a lot cheaper!

    We’ve had much the same furniture for over 35 years and some of our finest was actually handed down through several generations.

    Marie at FamilyMoneyValues

    October 19, 2011

  3. I always would laugh at those Hi/Lo rooms too. You don’t have to cover every square inch of your home with stuff. It’s ok to furnish your home over time. You don’t have to do it all at once. I like to use natural items for accessories: found pine cones, river stones, shells, etc.

    As far as the Joneses go, how about they try to keep up with you! Set your own style and enjoy living debt free!


    October 19, 2011

  4. what a waste of money! That is unless this is really not much for your budget in the first place. Why not just make up your own style according to your own budget? You can come out with more appropriate numbers like the one you came up with Barb.


    October 19, 2011

  5. Our couch cost… um… don’t remember exactly, it wasn’t super expensive, but was about $1,000, I think. And though it looks nice, the interior is pretty cheap and I don’t know how long it’s going to lost. We had to replace the first one that arrived since it was damaged on arrival!

    It seems like it’s hard to find good furniture for cheap these days. I hope the couch can make it for 10 years. I do like nice wooden furniture that could last a decent amount of time, though.

    Invest It Wisely

    October 19, 2011

  6. I thought our couch was expensive as well at about $1000. I couldn’t imagine spending $9000 on a room! Maybe the whole house from scratch?

    Robert @ My Multiple Incomes

    October 19, 2011

  7. Fun article. The down side of the shows you are taking about is that many were encouraged to “get the best” and got a second mortgage to do so spending big money to improve their homes. And, guess who owns it now? The bank. Better to adopt the old McDonald’s slogan of “change back from your dollar”


    October 19, 2011

  8. @Krantcents- I should have added that point myself. Thanks for adding it!
    Marie-another great tip. Rearranging is fun and makes a whole new look.
    @Maggie-Yes, savor the experience of making your home your castle.


    October 20, 2011

  9. @Beating-I like it. Set your own style and priorities.
    @Kevin-It is definitely preferable to get decent quality for a good price! You may have to shop around and look for some sales.
    @Robert-It’s all in ones perspective 🙂
    @Carol-Thanks for bringing it back to the recent economic problems. And I like the McDonald’s analogy too.


    October 20, 2011

  10. Perception is everything in our life if you ask me including what we buy in the store. You are so right about anchoring and how our brains can fool us. I am with Krant- it is all about what is within your means. If you have money to buy something new then do so but if you don’t, don’t even think about it.

  11. We had first hand experience with this when we went house hunting!


    October 20, 2011

  12. @Miss T-It’s also amazing how tempting walking through the mall can be for some of us!
    @Money-I hope it was a good experience !


    October 20, 2011

  13. Anchoring is really common — because it’s a sales tactic that works. Regarding decorating in particular, a good way to get a design look on a low budget is to decorate slowly over time. That’s also a plus because you have time to really think about what you want, and the room doesn’t look like it was bought of a showroom floor or “done”.


    October 20, 2011

  14. You’re right… perception is so powerful. I’m amazed at how much people can do with so little. I tend to be a minimalist… but far from being able to actually design much of value when it comes to decorations.

    Doctor Stock

    October 20, 2011

  15. Quite intrigued about this whole “Anchoring” thing. It is so true. And that’s how marketing gets us.


    October 21, 2011

  16. Our budget was $500 for the entire house (except the mattress). I had to wait for 9 months to get the couch I wanted for the price I wanted. I got it on Craigslist and professionally cleaned it. Same for other furniture except bed. Furniture depreciates a LOT.


    October 21, 2011

  17. Sounds like they are selling the couch through jedi mind tricks to me. I’m joking, but when someone say, oh $9,000 is a great price for a couch… we’ll if you believe it, you’ve been tricked!

    Money Reasons

    October 21, 2011

  18. I also chuckle at some of these decorating shows. We’ve done a couple of couches for 700 to 800 dollars. Find a high-quality used piece at a yard sale or a thrift store, something that was built in the US preferably in High Point, and get it re-upholstered.

    101 Centavos

    October 23, 2011

  19. @Tushar-I’m aware of it and it still sways me sometimes.
    @Jackie- Yes, anchoring works really well, in marketing….. but it can’t make you buy if you don’t go to the store :)!!!
    @Dr. Stock- I am a sucker for those tv shows showing getting a gread design for little cash!!!!

    Barb Friedberg

    October 23, 2011

  20. @Suba-You’re my kind of gal!!! Set a budget for you and be patient until you can fulfill it! Way to go 😉
    @Money-$9000 for a couch certainly isn’t realistic in my world!!!! Jedi tricks, maybe 🙂
    @101-Good advice!!

    Barb Friedberg

    October 23, 2011

  21. Anchoring is such an important concept for people to understand. I know small business owners who intentionally list a “high” priced option or “high” custom package that they don’t expect anyone to buy, simply so that they can ‘anchor’ that high pricetag in their consumer’s mind. Then they also offer a super-price-conscious option, and then a middle-ground option.

    Paula @ Afford Anything

    October 25, 2011

  22. @Paula-Sometimes it’s a bit tricky figuring out what is a reasonable price to pay!

    Barb Friedberg

    October 25, 2011

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