Review: Love Your Life, Not Theirs

Love Your Life

Who doesn’t want to be one of the cool kids?

I certainly did, and I thought if I looked like them and had all the right stuff, maybe someday they would accept me into their clique.

I didn’t want just one cool backpack or snap bracelet (don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about)–I wanted All The Backpacks and All The Snap Bracelets. If each cool girl just had one and I had all of them, I’d be that much cooler and they’d have to like me, right?

Well, none of this ever went according to plan. None of the backpacks (or shoes or clothes or accessories) was ever quite right, and I never was and never will be one of the cool kids.

Rachel Cruze knows all this and much more. In Love Your Life, Not Theirs: 7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want, she explores the grown-up versions of our schoolyard comparisons and helps us learn how to appreciate being who we really are and stop trying to be clones of our friends.

The Joneses, They’re Everywhere!

Trying to keep up with the Joneses is nothing new, but Cruze reminds us that now the Joneses aren’t just outside our homes and down the street. They’re on our desks invading our laptops and even in our pockets hijacking our smartphones.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest–you name it, they’re there.

We don’t even have to see or talk to our friends to know what they’re up to, where they went on vacation, which shoes they bought, or even what they had for dinner.

And They Look Gooood

Not only do we know way more than we want or need to know about our friends’ amazing lives, we see only the amazing parts.

“They take fifty different shots before posting the one, perfect, “candid” beach photo…

When you get caught up in social media comparisons, you’re comparing yourself to make-believe. And when you compare yourself to make-believe, your real life will never feel good enough.”

Of course they’re only going to post the filtered versions of their lives. Would you really post an accurate #IWokeUpLikeThis photo?


Quit The Comparisons

We have no idea what happens behind the scenes in social media posts or photos.

Photos don’t show and tweets don’t mention the rain, the mosquitoes, the pants that don’t quite fit, the purse that got stolen, the disgusting leak in the hotel bathroom, or the credit card bills and debt collectors who harass our friends after the vacation is over. We can’t know that the ‘perfect’ couple is filing for divorce or just had their third miscarriage.

If we knew the truth behind the shiny facade, would we still want to be them?

Cruze gently points out that the only life we truly know is our own, and she provides suggestions for how to make the most of it.

Find Peace

When we focus on our own lives, we’re able to choose gratitude. Rather than jealousy or envy, we find peace and joy in what we do have. We appreciate our relationships and our memories more than our things.

“When you are content, you have a peace about your life. You may not be where you want to be yet, but you’re comfortable about where you’re heading. And, just as important, you’re able to be comfortable with where someone else is heading too…

When we’re at peace with our lives, our relationships get better because we become the kind of friend other people want to have.”

We can define our own values and pursue them while still supporting our friends as they pursue their own set of values. We can choose different paths and still cheer each other on.

Set Your Own Goals

My goal is to retire early and have more time to spend with family, volunteer, and travel.

Some of my friends want nothing more than to stay home with their kids, while others can’t wait to get back to their careers and would give anything for a nanny.

A few of my friends have been to hundreds of countries, and a few others are afraid to fly. Some want careers as writers or musicians and others enjoy numbers more than words.

Whatever your goals and priorities are, be grateful that they’re yours and yours alone. If everyone wanted to do the same things and had the same talents, the world would be a boring place and a lot of jobs would remain unfilled or be done very poorly.

The Total Money Makeover Reincarnated

Since Rachel Cruze is Dave Ramsey’s daughter, she advocates that the way to achieve these goals is through getting and staying debt-free, saving and investing as much money as possible, and practicing generosity.

The remainder of this book reviews Dave’s Total Money Makeover Baby Steps*, though Cruze’s voice is more friendly, sweet, and encouraging than her dad’s.

There’s plenty of how-to included, though I’ll leave you with a why-to for motivation.

“Too many people confuse fun with happiness. You can buy fun, like a great vacation or a night out on the town with friends, but you can’t buy happiness. Happy is the feeling of hanging out with your spouse, a special weekend getaway with your best friend, or the first time your child grabs onto your finger with her tiny hand. Those are the moments that move us forward, the ones we remember forever–and none of them are for sale.”

How do you avoid comparisons and stay focused on your own goals and values? Tell me your secrets in the comments below.

*I agree with much of Dave Ramsey’s advice, though for investing strategy, read Collins’s book instead (or read my review here). Ramsey also adamantly rants against credit cards with no exceptions, though I believe that they can be beneficial if used responsibly (read about a great deal here).

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Comments 15

  1. We went out and bought some fun yesterday – and we’ll do it again today. But we actually are helping my son learn some really important lessons (I HOPE!) as we do it. We went jet skiing for an hour yesterday and had a great time. It was sunny and warm and the ocean was like glass. We buzzed around on those things and he got to drive his own (since he turned 18 and has a boater’s license!) When we got done, we talked about how fun it was – but that an hour was enough. That was the perfect time to talk about how people buy jet skis because they think they are so amazing and that they’d use them all the time. We also calculated how many rentals you could do for the price of a used jet ski (and all the maintenance, gas, insurance, etc.). It was pretty eye opening to him to see that he could rent one once a month for 5 years rather than buy a used one… No need to keep up with anyone – just realize you can “buy” those experiences in small doses and still have fun. But the jet ski won’t make you happy! Off to the casino tonight – since he can gamble now too…. Let’s see how fun it is for him to lose money real fast… I think he won’t like it!

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      Once a month for 5 years! Wow! And you don’t have to insure it, tow it around, or find a place to store it.
      Good for you guys taking advantage of your vacation home and jet skiing in December, though, and your son is so lucky to have you to teach him these lessons proactively.
      I’m curious to hear what he thinks of the casino. For me, it was a big, smoky letdown with some very interesting characters, but at least the closest one here has beautiful lights on the building that we see frequently when we drive around town.

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  2. I like point is that fun and happiness are not equivalent. When you start to recognize the happiness in your daily life, it’s so much easier to let go of comparisons. Contentedness can go a long ways toward not wanting to keep up with the Joneses.

    I’ve been thinking about this so much lately – trying to figure out when, exactly, I stopped caring what other people had and what they thought about me. Though I cannot pinpoint an exact moment, I do know it was around the time I was spending more time in nature…and we were beginning to work on our goal of FI.

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      Amanda, I wonder if it’s always at least a little bit about comparison, but we change that comparison from things to bank/debt balances. Or better yet, we change it to time.
      I don’t mind if my friends have more shiny things as long as I have financial security and time to hike, and it sounds like your family is similar.
      Happy New Year!

  3. Love love love this!!!! We live in a world of comparison! Income, kids, intelligence, etc. and we all need to remember that we have only our lives to lead! I love my life, my husband and my kids! This is our life and the life we chose, so we won’t always have things other people have and that is ok. We all have amazing moments and not so amazing moments – the key is to remember our own amazing moments 🙂
    PS We are huge Dave Ramsey fans in this house 🙂

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      The best things are NOT those that money can buy, and you and your family are wonderful examples of this. There’s so much happiness and love, even on not-so-perfect days.
      I remember you saying you’re doing FPU. We’re wishing you all the best and are cheering loud from AZ. Hugs to you, Tom, and the girls x 3!

  4. Comparisons are one of the easiest routes to unhappiness. There will always be someone in a “better” position if you look around. I remind myself of that fact and usually it leads to avoiding comparisons. If I still can’t shake that desire I think of folks in the emerging countries and remember no matter how good or bad I’m doing I’ve already won the lottery as my lifestyle exceeds most of the rest of the world. That reminds me I need to be thankful for what I have, which clicks me back to reality. From there it’s back to my own path, unique as it is.

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      We tell kids all the time that there will always be someone better and someone worse, so we just have to do the best we can. We should remember to tell it to ourselves more often too!
      You’re also right that ‘better’ is subjective, and what makes one person happy could be misery for someone else.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment, and Happy New Year!

  5. We love Dave and I’m happy to hear you found Rachel’s book useful.

    I think FaceBook is Public Enemy #1 of happiness. People who are very susceptible to loving someone else’s life should set strict limits on their time spent on social media.

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      Isn’t that the truth! I love FB to see photos of family kids who live abroad, but other than that (and for sharing some funny Onion articles), it puts a lot of polish on our lives. Seeing and talking with someone in person is sooooo much better.

  6. Very interesting post. Sounds like you have most of it figured out. I do not have kids yet, but I’m sure I will one day. This is a bit of an eye opener for me. Thanks

  7. Envy is a powerful emotion and most people are slaves to their emotions. I temper my envy gene by reading posts like this. Thank you for this excellent review of Rachel’s book, Julie. It was a great way to start 2017!

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      Thanks, Mr. G! I like Dave’s ideas (most of them, anyway), but hearing them from Rachel is a little nicer. She’s closer to my demographic so the examples hit closer to home. Envy can have so much power if we forget to think about the big picture rather than the Instagram snapshot.
      Happy 2017 to you and Mrs. G.

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