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If you haven’t earned it, don’t live it

We’re all familiar with the concept of keeping up with the Joneses. Many of us try to stay on top of trends and have the urge to splurge on nice houses, fancy cars, fabulous clothes, fine dining and travel. I mean, who wouldn’t want to live their best life during these times? 

Growing up, I recall hearing some of the elders say, “Work hard for what you want.” Maybe you can relate. Have you ever been out shopping or browsing, and that one special thing catches your eye? It’s like this item speaks to your soul, and you must have it. You start to go back and forth in your head, debating whether you should get it or not. Then you decide and say, “Who am I kidding? I can afford it.” 

Guess what? Maybe you’re right, and you can afford it. I don’t know about you, but when I started making more money and could afford things that I couldn’t in the past, that boosted my confidence. I had a sense of pride about it, too. There’s nothing like working hard and treating yourself. 

However, we must all remember to budget — and no two budgets are identical for various reasons. We all have different money stories, and that is completely fine. 


  1. Research the item you want to buy. 
  2. Look at your financial picture to see where that purchase fits into your budget. 
  3. Create a plan for the purchase. 
  4. Work your plan, and be patient.

Let’s be honest — there have been times when we’ve had a spending plan, then we find ourselves going beyond our means because we’re surrounded by the temptations presented online, via social media, by mail, on billboards or through friends. These messages and images lead to an insatiable need to have what others have. 

This can be even more extensive and insidious than the influence of our old neighbors, “the Joneses.” We may find ourselves living beyond our means. 

I recall seeing “Oprah Winfrey Live” when she was doing her tours. She said something so powerful that it never left me: “There’s nothing wrong with wanting everything; you just can’t have it all at one time.” That was the “a-ha” moment for me, as that statement can be applied to anything — most of all, how we choose to spend our money. Living a life that we haven’t earned will cause us to fall into the abyss of debt if we aren’t careful. The best solution is to live in your current money zone with ease and gracefully enjoy the things you want over time. 

Janera Harvey is a money coach, certified credit counselor and owner of The Credit Journey LLC. Reach her at

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