Facebook Spawns Envy?

Don't let unproductive emotions do in your financial plan.

Like many people, I've been watching the Facebook story unfold both from an investing standpoint but also personally (I have an account that I use actively). One of many story lines has been the #deletefacebook movement. I found this article from Quartz that included the following passage about the extent to which Facebook contributes to unhappiness;

"Researchers suspect that Facebook makes us unhappy because we spend a lot of time engaging in social comparison—measuring our achievements and self-worth against our acquaintances’ status updates."

I shared the article...on Facebook with the following observation; If this describes you, focus on the cause for this because getting off FB won't make envy go away.

This is something I have been writing about for ages in a retirement context. Driven by envy of what friends or neighbors are doing/posting, someone might persistently make bad financial decisions spending too much on cars and homes (easy things to be envious of). One of my recurring attempts at being funny on Facebook is to share a picture like the following and caption in, "I don't know what this is but I gotta have one."

I write a lot about figuring yourself out so that you don't waste time saving (or not being able to save) or working to the wrong goal, a lifestyle that won't actually make you happy.Seeing someone else post that they just bought a new <fill in whatever car you love>, getting so upset that you don't have one that you buy one and take on a $1000 payment for five years or longer is borderline tragic.

Personally, I love Land Rover Defender 90s and Defender 110s. I take a lot of pictures anytime I see them. They are a fortune and I know the financial difficulty of buying one would far outweigh the enjoyment I would derive from owning it and seeing it in the driveway. It's not even a difficult decision but making the decision requires some self-awareness.

Envy also occurs from seeing other people who appear to be more successful. It can be difficult to get here but I would encourage you to think of success as doing what you want to do, in the life circumstance you want. I have defined "wealthy" many times as making enough to pay the bills, set some aside for retirement with a little left over for fun as leaving you better off than most people. I am in exactly that spot and quite content. When I see someone who appears to be more successful than however successful (or not) I may be I typically assume a couple of things. They work harder now than I do or they worked harder before to get to where they are now. Some people who are more successful than us are simply smarter than us and so it won't drive you nuts, some people are just luckier. None of that has to have anything to do with how well you do or the life that you create for yourself.

I love anything to do with the stock market so being able to make a living in that field is a huge win. I work from home, haven't had a daily commute in more than 15 years (half of my post college life) which is a huge win. I have the flexibility to be very involved with the volunteer fire department where I live which is a huge win. My wife is a great partner and we are on the same page on all of this stuff which is a huge win. None of that has anything to do with salary. That last paragraph could describe someone making $50,000 or $500,000

My wife has this t-shirt;

Letting that shit go could be the difference between thinking you need $2 million saved for retirement or $700,000. Maybe $700,000 seems like an insanely big number but it's nowhere near the $2 million that many advisers will tell you that you need.

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