How to Avoid Falling Into the Money Comparison Trap

Everyone has one of those relatives. You know who I’m talking about—the ones who seem to be wildly successful in every area. Maybe your cousin just bought a house, or your sister just landed a high-paying job and just returned from an amazing vacation.

What’s even worse: these relatives aren’t afraid to talk about the latest and greatest around the holiday dinner table – as you quietly sit and listen. And then, as the conversation lulls, Uncle Bob turns to you and says, “so, what’s going on in your life now?”

It can be tough to resist comparing yourself to your more-successful relatives in these situations. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways you can get over this trap. Read on to learn more.

Luck is a bigger player than most people realize

Sure, your successful relative worked hard to get where she is. But, what people often don’t acknowledge is the role luck plays when it comes to getting ahead.

Your relative may have simply got lucky because she works in a well-paying field or lives in an area where real estate isn’t as expensive as the Northeast city you call home. Or, maybe your cousin Tom has never dealt with hardcore student loans because his parents paid for his college education. There are thousands of other ways your relatives may have ended up where they are today.

But, there’s good news too: you can also be lucky, maybe even in ways that your more-successful relatives aren’t. Maybe you have talents that they don’t have. Just think: you can use your talents to create a side hustle to earn extra money and improve your situation.

Move ahead financially

Good news! You’re not stuck where you are today. You can always improve your financial state.  

Remember when you graduated from the kids’ table to the adults’ table at holiday family gatherings? You can do the same thing and graduate to a better personal finance situation.

I’m not gonna lie and say it’ll happen overnight or it won’t take a lot of work. It’ll probably be quite the opposite, in fact. You’ll need to make sacrifices, get out of your comfort zone, and become more disciplined. Maybe it’ll even be harder for you than for others. But, you can do it.

Practice gratitude

You might have noticed a theme here. By being thankful for the things you do have, you can directly counteract the negativity surrounding your supposed “failures.” In fact, it’s been proven that showing gratitude can actually help your finances improve.

But how do you actually do this and make it stick?

For starters, it’s important to focus on rewiring your brain so you can instead see a more balanced side with the positive aspects of any given situation. This isn’t so easy because, as humans, we’re biologically hardwired to always recognize the negative side of things. To get around this, try keeping a daily gratitude journal and each day, write down three things that you’re grateful for and why.

It doesn’t have to be anything earth-shattering like “I was promoted to a director position.” It can literally be as simple as “I am grateful for the heat in my apartment” or “I am grateful I don’t have a serious health condition.” These are good things after all, right?

You can also practice gratitude rituals before regular daily occurrences. Saying a quick mental thanks every time you eat a meal or arrive home from work can go a long ways towards shifting your perspective from the negative to the positive.

Boast about your wins

Okay, so we aren’t advocating to actively compete with your relatives and rub your successes in their faces…but, a little boasting can help motivate you to continue to improve your situation.

Think about how great it will feel to show up at a family holiday gathering and say, “you know what? I’m debt-free now,” or “guess who just got a fantastic new job?”

Just remember, don’t become that person who won’t stop talking obsessively about his achievements. Let your relatives know how you’re faring financially, briefly bask in the glory, answer any of their questions, and move on to celebrate everyone else’s successes.

Wrapping up

Family holiday gatherings can be tough at this time of year, especially if you’re struggling to make ends meet and save money. But we also know that falling into the money comparison trap with your relatives can only serve to make this time of year more difficult.

To that end, if you remember these tips and stop comparing yourself to others, you can instead focus on more productive things—like moving ahead financially!

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