“What we possess no longer defines our lives.”
In our last post we introduced you to Charles and Leann. Remember how they found themselves in a new neighborhood and lured into a “Keeping up with the Joneses” lifestyle? If you missed that article you can catch up here.
Here we now share the rest of their story. Read along and learn how Charles and Leann struggled through their newfound lifestyle, made some tough decisions, and rediscovered their true selves. We think you will find their story fascinating. You can read this story as well as others in our award-winning and bestselling book Who Are the Joneses Anyway?
Charles and Leann weren’t earning enough to keep up with the lifestyles of their new neighbors, but that didn’t keep them from feeling like they needed to. Over time, the pressure grew. It eventually drove Charles to gambling as a way to make extra money and help him feel he was equal to his new friends, most of whose wives didn’t have to work to make ends meet like Leann had to.
“It’s probably a confidence flaw—like I wasn’t good enough—that drove me to take desperate measures,” Charles told us. “Actually, I donated a lot of money, but now I can see my intentions were misplaced even there. I was donating the money to make me feel good, like a big shot.”
Gambling to make extra money turned into an addiction. Charles found himself staying up all night, then going to work and running on fumes, becoming an absent husband and father at home. Then, just as quickly as he had won, Charles began to lose. He tried to catch up, placing his bets on credit cards. “Let’s just say I had become addicted, out of necessity to sustain this new lifestyle we felt expected to maintain,” Charles said.
Then one day Leann found the credit card statements and was astonished. “At this rate, we are going to end up homeless!” she remembered saying.
“Just the way she said that stopped me dead in my tracks,” Charles recalled. The peer pressure drove them to spend more than they earned and him to gambling. They felt crushed. Keeping up with the Joneses in their town had broken them, financially and otherwise.
After realizing how deep they were in debt, Leann remembered “breaking down in tears—more than once.” They knew they had to look deep within themselves, make some changes, and begin the long process of digging out of their self-created mess.
It was a long road, but eventually they made it. The key was deciding who they were and what was most important to them. From that starting point, Leann and Charles began moving forward confidently, living within their means, and making better daily decisions between needs and wants.
“We bought used furniture,” Leann shared. “I want people to feel welcome when they come into our home. I want it to look beautiful, but having our guests feel loved, blessed, and hugged is most important. The furniture, new or old, will never add a single thing to that.”
“What we possess no longer defines our lives,” Charles offered, to which Leann added, “And the rat race isn’t either.” They admit they are still learning each day. Refocusing and sticking to their priorities has resulted in less stress and more joy as they move forward.
Can you relate to Leann and Charles’ experiences? We love how they fought back from the brink of disaster and now willingly share their story with others.
What emotions does this story stir in you? Have you ever been through a similar experience? Respond here. We’d love to hear from you.
Thank you for reading along. We are honored that you have done so.
Blessings on your continuing journey,
Bob and Susan Karcher
Authors | Speakers | Coaches