Comparison is the Thief of Financial Security

Comparison

Comparison is the Thief of Financial Security. It’s often said that comparison is the thief of joy. Believe it or not, this applies to financial wellness, too. Because not only can comparison steal our happiness, it can also rob us of our financial security.

It’s a good lesson to remind your employees that everyone is on their own financial journey, and everyone is traveling at their own pace. Comparison is especially prevalent in our social media-driven world, where it’s easy to forget that seeing isn’t always believing. In other words, much of what we see on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites is what our peers want us to see — it isn’t reality, or it’s only a snapshot of a moment in time that doesn’t convey the whole story. So while they may see their friends “living it up” and spending lavishly, your participants may not see the debt they wracked up to create that lifestyle or the pennies they pinched and saved so they could splurge on that awesome activity they photographed and posted online.

So how do you help your employees grasp “financial reality” in a world dominated by fake Facebook fortunes? This USA Today article titled “Why Facebook could ruin your retirement,” offers some great tips. For starters, encourage your employees to focus on their finances and no one else’s, and not to get tempted to spend their money frivolously just because they see everyone else spending theirs.

Rachel Cruze, debt-free guru Dave Ramsey’s daughter, has written a great book on how to do this, called “Love Your Life Not Theirs: 7 Money Habits For Living The Life You Want.” Social media is designed to make a splash, to garner attention. But it’s important to remind your employees that each post is also just a splash in the pan and that they should focus on building good, long-term financial habits and making smart choices with their money so they can live the life they want today and enjoy a financially stable retirement, too.

Another suggestion: help your employees reframe what they’re seeing in their social media feeds. Instead of focusing on how much money their peers are spending, try to get a sense of how others are saving money. Besides Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze, there are a ton of budget-conscious “debt kickers” and financial freedom devotees on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook — all over the Internet — who are teaching people how to manage their money and save to get ahead financially via video, blog and “vlog” (video blog).

USA Today offers these dos and don’ts to live by — more good fodder to share with your employees to remind them that focusing on their blessings, financial and otherwise, is the best way to live, even if they don’t deem it worthy of posting on Instagram.

Do

  • Be happy that your friends are living well.
  • Remember that every photo is cropped, and often there are many outtakes before the best ones are chosen.
  • Remember that their story is different from yours. They have faced different obstacles, and you only see less than half of the picture.

Don’t

  • Compare your “blooper reel” with their “highlights.”
  • Minimize your own strengths, loves or adventures.
  • Forget that the brag books of social media are often ways to compensate for feelings of emptiness and isolation. Social media activity is linked to depression and the like.”
Robyn Kurdek

Robyn Kurdek

Freelance writer with nearly 2 decades of financial industry experience, with niche expertise in the defined contribution (DC) industry. I also have defined benefit (DB) plan knowledge. I write all types of content for retirement plan participants, sponsors and advisors, including web copy, newsletters, white papers, fact sheets, blog posts, financial wellness articles, and more. "I speak DC."
Robyn Kurdek
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