Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Keeping Up With The Joneses

Keeping up with the Joneses was not how I got into debt. You can read my tragic story here.

However, I think that this is why a great deal of people go into debt. They may be at a level they are comfortable with, then lose a job or suffer some other misfortune, and rather than scale back to deal with the situation, they use consumer credit to maintain appearances.

Before you feel the need to keep up with them, here are some things to remember about the Joneses.

• Mr. Jones hates the song "Mr. Jones" by the Counting Crows. Mrs. Jones, however, loves that Mr. Jones hates "Mr. Jones." She plays it often.

• Mrs. Jones wipes boogers underneath the leather seat of her leased BMW 350i. She also does a good deal of her "stress crying" in there.

• Mr. and Mrs. Jones' kids hate riding the four wheelers their father bought for them on his gold card. Mr. and Mrs. Jones know this. They make the kids ride them anyway; in his mind Mr. Jones bitterly imagines the kids jumping the four wheelers over the mountain of debt on his gold card.

• Mr. Jones thinks his coworkers think he's a "big man" because he drives a brand new Hummer H3 that lost $4,000 when the rear wheels hit the pavement off the car dealership lot. Mr. Jones' coworkers think he's a "tool."

• Yes, Mr. Jones owns a flatscreen (via Discover). No, you can not come watch the game on Sunday. Why? Mr. Jones can't afford cable. Mr. Jones would not admit this if his fingernails were being removed with a pair of needle-nosed pliers. A fine evening of flatscreen entertainment for Mr. Jones involves the following: the creepy cold shoulder from Mrs. Jones, a dimming of the lights, a coffee mug full of vodka and a run through of "Married With Children" on the local Fox affiliate. The Bundys are HD-larious! Wait - it's just the vodka mixing with the anger that produces a potent hallucinogenic effect. At 1:30 a.m., is there any difference between laughing and crying?

• Mrs. Jones likes to talk movies with her neighbor, Fran. Mrs. Jones likes to brag about buying DVD's. "It's easier than renting, plus you can re-watch them anytime!" Not only has Mrs. Jones never watched her copy of "The Holiday," she doesn't have any idea what it's about, only that it stars that Joker-faced chick that was always kissing Justin Timberlake on the cover of Us Weekly. Fran thinks to herself, How quick could I be with these rose shears? Would I feel anything?

• Mrs. and Mr. Jones wish they were you.

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