Even the most self-confident among us are likely to succumb to the keeping up with the Joneses (and the Smiths and the Kardashians) phenomenon. And the effect on our finances is usually brutal, as we try to compete with the car, house or designer duds that our Insta-neighbors have.
A recent survey only confirmed this, as researchers found people were more likely to base their perception of their financial health on their relative status to others, rather than on more concrete factors like income, age, gender or occupation. And the more often people compare themselves, Morningstar found, the worse they tend to feel about their own finances.
But there is one silver lining: If you shift your perspective a bit, the comparison game could help. For starters, everyone — even the highest earners — tended to look up at who has more than them, researchers found. But if you stop to look at who has less, it could make you feel gratitude for what you do have, behavioral economist and report author Sarah Newcomb told MarketWatch.
Also, consider that you probably have friends who make less than you do but are still living perfectly happy and well-adjusted lives. After all, you don't even need to make six figures to reach peak happiness, according to one recent study.
Second — and this is the tip we love — if you compare yourself to someone you consider a money role model, rather than any old friend or family member, you can take what you admire about them and emulate it for your own success, Newcomb says. For instance, ask yourself: What were the first steps they took to become successful? How can I make those same moves in my life?
A money role model could be a friend who always seems to stay in budget, a relative who's a pro at saving, or a work colleague who has successfully negotiated her salary throughout her career. Consider asking them out to coffee so you can pick their financially savvy brains — and avoid scrolling through Instagram right after.