- Valentine’s Day is especially hard for widows who are missing their loved one.
- Not only do we compare ourselves to others when it comes to our romantic relationships, but we also compare our money situation.
- These comparisons can lead to dissatisfaction with our financial situation and create bad financial habits.
Valentine’s day conjures up images of roses and chocolates as well as the perfect picture of what Hallmark says your life should look like. Romantic holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, can be especially hard for widows, and may be just another reminder of their loss, and that they are alone. The many embellished or idealized depictions of romantic connections on social media and cable TV makes it seem that everyone is in love and ecstatically happy with their life.
This Valentine’s Day phenomenon is not just about love or February 14th. We also compare ourselves to others when it comes to money. Images everywhere depict beautiful women with lucrative careers living successful, glamorous, and rich lives. These fictitious people have attained all of life’s significant milestones at the “appropriate” time: purchasing a large house, vacationing in pricey locations, buying expensive cars along with the perfectly trained dog, and children who never complain and are not only thoughtful, but kind. They seem never to struggle.
Nobody is perfect. This perfect life is not only elusive, but in most cases is an illusion. Pictures on social media and even real-life encounters provide only a filtered snapshot of a life. Even the wealthiest jet-setting crowd has struggles, fears, and insecurities.
People tend to assume that their friends are making more money, don’t have as much debt, or aren’t facing the same financial hurdles they are. This is just not true. Most people tend not to share their financial challenges and struggles on social media or during casual conversations. Instead, we only share the highlights of our life and our best days and experiences.
Rhonda, a recently widowed mom of three, admitted that she feels pressure to keep up with her social circle of moms who live in an affluent area of Westchester, New York. Rhonda shares, “I cannot help but look at my friends and feel that they are doing better than I am. I do not want my kids to miss out on the same experiences their childhood friends are having, but unfortunately, the income from my job and my husband’s small life insurance policy are not enough to cover these costs and save for my retirement. As a result, I’ve had to stop contributing to my employer’s 401K this year and I feel awful about it.”
These comparisons can lead to dissatisfaction with our financial situation, even if you’re in good financial shape. Creating a more realistic comparison of ourselves to others and, even better, ignoring what others are doing is key to blocking out the noise and focusing on the many blessings in your life.
Another thing to consider is that those in your social circle may be focused on short-term satisfaction, while your priority is long-term security and happiness. Sure, you could afford to go on more vacations, have a more expensive car payment or send your kids to scuba diving summer camp in the Bahamas. But at what cost? Spending more money on those things will hold you back from your long-term goals of retiring, buying your dream home, sending your kids to a great college, or having more financial stability overall.
If you want to stop comparing your financial position to others, concentrate on your financial goals. Some ways to do this:
- Write down your financial goals for 2022. Be as specific as possible, detailing the number of dollars you plan to save, how much you plan to cut in spending, or how much debt you will pay off.
- Post your goal in a place where you’ll see it each day. My goals are on the side of my computer monitor, so I see them dozens of times every day.
- Carve out time in your calendar once a week to review your progress towards achieving your goal.
- If you find your mind drifting off and focusing on what others have and you do not, sit down and journal about the many blessings in your life. Be sure to list financial blessings and those that have nothing to do with money.