I’ll just say it: I love the Internet. Whether it’s going down a Reddit rabbit hole or watching “Friends” bloopers on YouTube or taking a Buzzfeed quiz to determine what sort of sandwich I am, you name it, I’ve done it. (Meatball sub, by the way.)
With that said, for all the good — access to information, a way to find your community, GIFs — you can glean, the web also has the ability to feed on your insecurities and issues.
This feels as though it has become especially true with the rise of social media.
As you browse other people’s highlight reels, the blips in your journey feel more like blows.
When it comes to your money journey — a journey we’re all on, in various stages — this can be especially damaging. That $5 you’re putting away each week can feel pretty piddly when someone else is talking about their pay rise or showing off their Qantas business class seat.
But — and I don’t mean to get all woo-woo on you — I think the best comparison to make is against yourself, not the Instagram masses and Facebook hordes.
Let me explain.
Seven years ago, I visited my grandmother in hospital.
She was dealing with post-surgery complications after having part of her lung removed due to lung cancer. As you can imagine, the process was long, hard and painful. And she struggled to breathe even when sitting still, let alone walking.
As we were sitting there, the doctor came by. When he asked her if she was feeling any better, I wasn’t exactly surprised when she shook her head no.
But the doctor was surprised.
Between breaths, my grandmother explained all the people around her had been getting better and checking out of the hospital. She was not feeling better. She was struggling.
But then the doctor asked her to think about the day post-surgery.
If she looked only at that day, and not the people around her, did she feel better?
This time she said yes.
He explained that when we try to determine whether we’ve improved, we often compare ourselves to the people around us or to how we felt the day before or recently.
But progress can sometimes be so gradual it can’t be measured that way.
Progress should only be measured over a length of time, he said, and only against the place you yourself have come from.
When you consider your financial journey, I believe you should do the same.
If you compare yourself to the people around you — whether that’s people in your real life or the ones on your Instagram feed — you’re not taking all the variables into account.
They might be showing off a hefty bank balance compared to yours, but you don’t know whether they also have a hefty amount of debt or a sugar daddy or whatever.
Whereas if you look back on your financial journey, you might realise you’ve come quite far. You might have once had $20 and now you have $100 or $500 saved.
Or maybe you discover nothing has changed, but at least then you know how to move forward!