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To wonder how many are trying to keep up with the Joneses

(135 Posts)
Coffeeinthepark Fri 07-Mar-14 19:14:36

I realise I've spent a crazy amount of time lately thinking about parts of my house that need improving. I've got a slightly dated kitchen, not my choice of colour but objectively 99% of the world's population would be very grateful for it and my own grandmothers could not have imagined such luxuries.

Problem is, all around me, people are redoing their kitchens and of course the nicer they become, the worse mine looks to me by comparison.

But new kitchens cost a lot of money and that comes at a cost of longer hours, more years working etc. I see a lot of families, including mine, working hard to do their houses up but I think it is a huge collective action problem of conspicuous consumption fed by beautiful interior magazines. Maybe I will do my kitchen and maybe it will make someone else feel worse about theirs in turn.

AIBU to think I should fight my desire for the dream kitchen?

Bunbaker Fri 07-Mar-14 19:17:04

Quite frankly, I don't care. I have friends with bigger houses than me, with nicer kitchens than me, but I don't care.

We are solvent, we enjoy our lifestyle and we are happy with each other. We don't need anything else.

mrscumberbatch Fri 07-Mar-14 19:19:30

To an extent... My front garden is a tip so I'm planning on gutting it and replanting it in the summer...

I don't want to be 'The neighbours with the tip for the garden.' Haha!

So other than not letting down the entire street (which is lovely) we are not bothered and pretty much do as we please.

pictish Fri 07-Mar-14 19:24:56

Our kitchen's a wreck! Doors hanging off, and drawer fronts missing. Everyone has a smarter kitchen than me. We can't afford to get it refitted atm, and besides we may eventually extend the kitchen anyway, and there's no point in doing it twice, so I have just learned to live with it as it is.

When I get annoyed about it, I just remind myself that there are millions of people out there who would give their eye teeth to have my wrecked kitchen.

I have a quirky house quite unlike those of my friends anyway - so keeping up with the Joneses isn't an issue for me. I value different things to them.

dyslexicdespot Fri 07-Mar-14 19:33:42

Yes, you should fight the desire for anything you really don't need and can't afford.

It's a constant battle, which makes sense considering the millions of pounds spent on making you feel like you need things.

pictish Fri 07-Mar-14 19:37:44

Dyslexic is right. And the other thing is, even if you DO get your dream kitchen installed, it won't be long before you turn your attention to something else you just have to have.
It will be never ending.

BuggersMuddle Fri 07-Mar-14 19:41:46

I'm sure some people do. I am more embarrassed by the mess in our house and some unfinished bits compared to some friends (in my case almost certainly poorer) who keep their houses like show homes! (Or maybe that's just what I see when I go round wink) The same mates might envy the size of my house, but console themselves with the fact my house is a shit tip compared to theirs...

Surely people focus on different things though. I have an old car and a 'middle aged' one. Cars aren't important to us, so while I can appreciate my friend's brand new BMW, I'm not going to try to keep up because we made different choices. They might judge my cars but that means nothing to me because I'm not envious through lack of money, just different priorities. Are you sure the 'new kitchen' people have more ready cash - they might well be going without other things you take for granted.

I have mates on a similar household income to us who go on 3 holidays a year - one skiing, one long haul and at least one other, but lads / girls weekends. How can I reasonably be jealous of their holidays when they live in a 2 bed flat furnished out of Ikea and don't run a car, whereas we have a house with garden and 2 cars? We just have different priorities.

Laquitar Fri 07-Mar-14 20:12:16

I thought that catching up with the neighbours re new shiny kitchen and jacuzzi is very 'yesterday' my dear. Where do you live? The trend is the 'i don't have time' look.
According to mn though you should have around 5,000 books but old furnitures and old kitchen.
I hope you feel better now!

Coffeeinthepark Fri 07-Mar-14 20:30:41

A good point Buggers, though maybe I can justify my coveting of new kitchen by the fact I'd rather spend on that than clothes or exotic holidays

I live in an affluent part of London. The building trade seems to be doing very good business around here.

BumpyGrindy Fri 07-Mar-14 20:42:57

Adjust your thinking. Consider those about you who have no home. Who would be thrilled with any fucking kitchen at all.

Zara8 Fri 07-Mar-14 20:44:22

Yes, fight the desire to overspend. That (and a raft of other ishoos) literally bankrupted my idiotic parents.

Don't spend money you don't have, to buy things you don't need, to impress people who don't care.

If your friends obsess about this shite/get all one-upmanship about it, change the topic or find new friends!!

Rampant consumerism and obsession with doing up housing is fucking toxic and pointless.

<rant over>

Sorry.... My childhood was scarred by 4 complete housing renovations!!! Hence I have strong feelings! My parents preferred to spend their money and time on fucking furniture and Italian tiles rather than on spending time with their children.

Coffeeinthepark Fri 07-Mar-14 20:54:48

That is really interesting. My parents barely touch their house why? - partly other priorities but partly because my Dad says his overriding childhood memory of his own father is of a pair of legs up a ladder constantly redecorating the house

Zara8 Fri 07-Mar-14 21:00:16

Yep I totally sympathise with your Dad!

The stupid thing was that our houses always looked spectacular, but we weren't allowed to LIVE in them, relax, IYSWIM. And we were broke all the time because my parents were in debt up to their eyelids to finance it all! But everyone thought we were loaded because of the way things appeared. And I'm sure it made those people feel like they had to renovate their houses etc etc and so the cycle continues.

Don't get me wrong, I lurve ikea trips and interior design! I just am allergic to DIY/renovation as a recreational activity....

Zara8 Fri 07-Mar-14 21:07:48

In fact I remember a friend coming round to visit, and her mum gushing over how amazing our rose garden was, how beautiful our furniture and decor was etc, she wished her house looked like that etc. and my mum being all smug like the cat that got the cream. And I am sitting there thinking "yeah but we are broke and this is all fucking boring for a kid. Oh and my parents argue all the time about money and renovations!!!"

I guess I got this whole "aspirational lifestyle" complex as a feature of my childhood so I get edgy about it!

But I do love watching Grand Designs. I get cross at people who massively over stretch themselves financially on the show, though, and shout at the telly....blush

FightingOverImaginaryIcecream Fri 07-Mar-14 21:18:49

I have lived nearly 13 years with a kitchen made out of MDF (badly). I hate the way it looks but the cooker, fridge, washing machine and dishwasher work, there are cupboards (some lacking doors and some where the shelves are just hanging on by a rusty nail) and a sink. It might not be the most beautiful room, but it works.

If I'd postponed having DC, or dashed back to work full-time after they were born, I'd have a new kitchen by now. I'm happy with the choices I've made and my (crappy) kitchen.

truelymadlysleepy Fri 07-Mar-14 21:21:05

I wonder if it rather depends where you live?
Here, in rural nowhere, few people notice the size of your house, make of car or newness of your kitchen.
I have 2 old friends that live elsewhere that are very conscious of the neighbours' new conservatory and who was taking the DC elephant trekking in Thailand. They never used to be like that, they seem infected by the competitiveness of it all shock

Cigarettesandsmirnoff Fri 07-Mar-14 21:25:30

My kitchen is a shit hole. I only have doors on dd1 bedroom, toilet and bathrooms upstairs.

Dp actually earns good money but bills swollow up every thing and it's only his wage coming in.

We choose to have a holiday to Cuba and forget about the house this year as we all need a holiday .

I am embarrassed about it but I have to keep telling myself not to give a fuck.

balenciaga Fri 07-Mar-14 21:26:19

well, my kitchen was free, it was a gift from a very rich friend of dh's, its worth about 5k. it really is beautiful and we didn't pay a penny for it


we RENT our house from the council and not sure if we can ever buy. so believe me I would swap my shiny kitchen but rented house for a shabby kitchen and a bought house.

so what I would say OP is just be glad you have got your own house.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 07-Mar-14 21:29:37

I am one of those people who deal in needs and not wants. Needs are very basic like food, water, roof over your head and wants are everything else, or so I believe.
One day I told a friend this and her response was yes I know what you mean I need a new kitchen, I think she missed the point.

So my opinion is people who deal in needs don't want for anything, especially new kitchens. Those who deal in wants are the type to want to keep up with the Jones's.

It is personal preference which you choose to be.

Zara8 Fri 07-Mar-14 21:34:58

Y y trulymadly I have two friends who have just bought houses in naice neighbourhoods and they are always going on now about what so and so across the road are doing with their kitchen, and they really need to do XYZas well.

And then they complain about having no money and I'm like errrrr confused

balenciaga Fri 07-Mar-14 21:36:41

does anyone think that people are getting more materialistic? more obsessed with things, with buying stuff, with doing better than others?

I think so, and I have a theory that its to do with the rise in popularity of social media, where everyone is documenting their "stuff"...well that's what my FB feed looks like anyway hmm

loveulotslikejellytots Fri 07-Mar-14 21:39:51

My DH is one of these people. He tries to keep up with friends of his and forgets just how lucky we are. We are both in our 20's have a nice (mortgaged) house, a nice car, 1 long haul holiday a year and one uk holiday a year. He also has a season ticket for his football team (£1200 a year).

Yet he still wants more. hmm He wants to be out every weekend having meals or drinks. He wants weekends away, he wants a new bathroom, a nicer house, a new car.

To be honest I really dislike this part of his personality and it's really affecting our marriage because it's so exhausting. Nothing we do, no matter how hard we work, it's not enough. He wasn't like this when we first met. He forgets our friends are 20 years older than us, earning a lot more.

Scuttlebug Fri 07-Mar-14 21:40:08

Great kitchen or shit kitchen, I've had both whilst renting and they both produced excellent dinners and many, many opened bottles of wine...that's what's important to me, fuck the Joneses, I'm having more fun!

bonvivant Fri 07-Mar-14 21:42:14

I'd much rather spend my money on experiences - material things all date.

When I'm old and wrinkly, I'm not going to give a hoot about the top of the range kitchen I might have bought or the designer handbags but I will be able to remember all the fab holidays we enjoyed when DS was little.

Cigarettesandsmirnoff Fri 07-Mar-14 21:45:51

I don't think people are getting more materialistic, I think for some people it's a sign of how successful they are, to others and themselves.

' look at my fantastic new house'
' look at my amazing kitchen '
' look at the car I drive'
I must be doing good.

I have to say, I've been one of those people .

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