Americans compare each other’s cars, houses, incomes, kid’s colleges (and so forth) all the time. Some of it might be useful, but more than a little bit of this comparison habit is unhelpful.

When setting up your financial future, or just gauging how you are doing now, it is best not to compare with your neighbor, co-worker, or high school friend.

Did your parents pay for the down payment on your first home? Do you make $150,000 a year? Many of us did not or do not benefit from these more fortunate circumstances, and that’s okay. But to compare your saving or spending with someone who is, it’s a losing game.

Another topic is debt. There’s a saying, “Don’t try to keep up with the Jones, the Jones are in debt.” An estimated 115 million Americans have credit card debt. Of them, the average household is carrying $15,799. Spending is a public act, while saving is almost always private.

When considering how you are doing financially create an internal reference point. Consider the following questions:

  • Do I feel secure?
  • Do I feel in control of the money coming into my life and going out of my life?
  • Do I spend my money on things I, personally, truly value?
  • Are my financial goals aligned with what will make ME happier?

Stop chasing someone else’s life and enjoy your own!