Many people seem obsessed with comparisons to others.  This is pointless behavior, of course. How other people are doing has nothing to do with how you are doing. But it’s what we do.

Last week I posted a LinkedIn poll (link) asking about relative compensation.  The goal was to get people to think about these comparisons.  To assess this, I used a question that was also asked by Harvard researchers during a study.

Assuming that everything else (the cost of goods and services, the economy, etc.) stayed equal.
Would you rather?

A.  Make $50,000 per year while everyone else made $25,000
B.  Make $100,000 per year while everyone else made $200,000

My unscientific poll results were 10% A and 90% B.

This is very different than the results Harvard Researchers got.  In their study, 50% of the people picked A.  To me, that’s crazy.  50% of the people would rather be worse off just so they had more than their neighbors did.

While in this hypothetical you may think I’d always take more money, how often do we compare ourselves to others?  I know I do it.  It’s also not new.  In 1928, humorist, Robert Quillen quipped…”Americanism: Using money you haven’t earned to buy things you don’t need to impress people you don’t like.”

My goal?  Understanding what I want and to stop making comparisons to everyone else. It doesn’t matter how big anyone else’s house, truck or 401k is… because they aren’t me.


  • Mike Hunsberger, ChFC®, CFP®, CCFC

    Mike Hunsberger, ChFC®, CFP®, CCFC is the owner of Next Mission Financial Planning located in Saint Charles, Missouri serving clients across the US and wherever the military takes them. After 25 years in the Air Force he started his firm to support military, former military, and retirees through values-based financial planning enabling clients to live their best lives.