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  • I experienced a serious case of buyer’s remorse when I made my first childhood purchase at age 5.
  • I learned that buying something just because everyone else is won’t make me happy.
  • As an adult, I prioritize my spending to achieve my goals, regardless of what my friends are doing.

When you think of keeping up with the Joneses, you probably picture adults competing with each other for bigger houses and flashier cars. But I fell into the trap of keeping up with the Joneses as a kindergartner.

As a 5 year old, I wanted to have all the cool toys. Although the playroom was filled with a large collection of toys, I set my heart on a special heart-shaped pillow that all my friends had.

Of course, I did not have a reliable income when I was young. So I started saving money by getting paid for chores around the house and putting any birthday money in my piggy bank. After I had saved all my money for this tempting pillow, I went down to the local mall with my mom. I handed over my cash and headed back to the car with my coveted pillow in tow.

But after returning to the car, I took a closer look at the pillow. And what I found was frustration that led to tears. I quickly realized that the pillow was not worth all the money I had painstakingly saved for this purchase. After a tearful moment, my mom helped me return the pillow and get my money back.

I left the mall without the pillow I’d wanted for months. But I had to hang on to my funds for another day. I also learned a lesson about money that I have implemented into my financial choices as an adult.

I spend on things that are important to me, regardless of what my friends do

I learned to make financial decisions based on what was best for me. Instead of following in the footsteps of my friends, I decided that it was better to make money decisions on my own.

As a kid, this meant spending money on my unique interests and hobbies. I hung on to those funds for a while after I left without the heart pillow. A few months later, I spent the money on a CD that I really wanted. Although the CD I chose (Kenny Chesney’s No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem album) was not popular among my friends, I was happy to dance around the house to my new favorite tunes.

This lesson has served me well as an adult as well.

For example, when it came time to buy a house, my husband and I opted for a smaller house than we could technically afford. Most of my friends live in more exclusive zip codes with more room to entertain. But we opted for a smaller home that better fits our long-term financial goals.

And I’ve been driving the same 2008 car for years. Technically, I could afford to upgrade a car that has spent less than a decade on the road. But I’m perfectly fine with mine, even if most of my friends and family have flashier rides. And my decision to stick with my old ride frees me up to spend on other things that are important to me, like a honeymoon in Scotland.

I learned early on not to base my spending decisions on what everyone else is doing. If I keep up with the Joneses, I often end up with a major case of buyer’s remorse.