The Joneses? Never met ’em…

You know that family down the street that we’re all theoretically aspiring to keep up with – the Joneses? We’ve never met ’em.


This is how Kitty PoP sits in the front window. You’d swear he had no shame. No. Shame. At. All.

Actually, despite the fact that we’ve lived here for more than three years now, we haven’t really been formally introduced to many people in our neighborhood. I’m not BFF’s with the other ladies on the block like Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives, and Mr. PoP doesn’t hang out, drink beer, and watch football with guys down the street.  Maybe someday we’ll have that, but for now, we’re on more of a “wave, smile, and comment on the weather” kind of stage with many of our neighbors.


Who Are Our Neighbors?

When we go for our nightly walks (and morning runs!) we see many of the same people, day after day, just living their lives and doing their own thing. So we’ve developed names for some of the characters (and households) in our neighborhood. Here are just a few:

  • Pipe Man – owns a couple of scottie dogs and lives in one of the homes with one of the nicest looking landscaping, which he tends to while gripping Pop-Eye style (you guessed it) an old fashioned pipe between his teeth.
  • The Hippies – live in one of the smallest houses on the biggest lot in the neighborhood. They’ll sit out back in their wide open yard laughing, smoking (smoking what?), and listening to music well into the evenings. They seem incredibly laid back and all the men have long hair and beards.
  • The Fisherman – lives near us and will come over to the lake in our backyard (and the neighbor’s) and stand on the little bank fishing for hours sometimes. Oh yeah, and he wears REALLY short shorts. Seriously, I think some of my running shorts are longer.
  • The Fat Animal Family – are the caretakers of a dog and cat that both look ancient and incredibly fat. The cat will sit in the front yard grass and a rabbit will hop within a couple of feet and the cat just kindof looks at it and I swear its face says, “Not worth the effort.”
  • The Attempted Bad-Asses – are a family that seems to have just a mom and several late teen, early twenties young men who seem to be trying awfully hard to “look tough”. They even bought a pit-bull puppy a couple years ago. Their only problem – their pit bull is one of the most playful loving dogs you’ve ever met. Hence, the “Attempted” in their name.
  • The Germans – might not actually be German! They speak German, but I can never remember if they’re actually from Austria or Switzerland… Either way, you know when they’re in town by the EU flag is flying outside of their front door. It’s super cute.
  • Living the Dream Dude – rides his bike around the neighborhood pretty much every night with plastic cup of what looks to be beer, “walking” his adorable black lab. The lab runs circles around the bike as he lazes around the neighborhood drinking his beer from his bike seat and stopping to pick up after the dog when necessary.

There are others, but this is pretty much how we end up describing those that live around us – who we know of, but don’t really know.


And since we’re incredibly self-centered, we’ve wondered that if we have all these names for our neighbors, surely they’ve got to have some for us, right?  So what do they know about us to make a memory association???


  • Bought one of the smallest houses in the neighborhood at a fire sale price in the middle of the great recession.
  • Worked on the house a LOT when we first moved in. People commented on the size of the debris piles that we would form for the garbage men every week for a while.
  • Exercise a lot. Mrs PoP always seems to be in gym clothes and Mr. PoP is pretty often, too!
  • Have a dirty, old car. The car that gets parked outside is Mr. PoP’s. It’s old, dirty, and has over 100K miles on it. He takes pride in NEVER washing it. Need I say more?
  • Aren’t particularly meticulous about sweeping the driveway. With The Tree constantly dropping acorns, leaves, and twigs all over it – it’s always seemed like a sysiphysian (sp?) task. Though the recent leaf blower purchase might change that.
  • Are quiet. When we have people over, it’s usually only a few at a time. No big parties, even though our house is kindof set up for decent parties.
  • Aren’t big drinkers. A quick peek through the recycle bins makes that pretty evident. (Come on, haven’t you ever looked in your neighbor’s recycling bin as you walk past? It’s like the medicine cabinet, but set out on the street for everyone to see!)
  • Don’t have many big toys! No boat, no jet-skis, no motorcycles in the garage.
  • Have an indoor cat. And the cat stares out of his front window on a fairly regular basis.

What Does This Say About Us?

So what kind of names might they give us based on this very superficial knowledge? Here are some of what we’ve come up with:

  • The Young ‘Uns – We are a good deal younger than your average Florida homeowner. Shocking, I know.
  • The Do It Yourself-ers – There are very few things we outsource in the house – the pool care and poisonous snake retrieval are the only things that immediately come to mind. And when we take on particularly big tasks (like replacing all the siding on house) ourselves, we’ve had some gawkers stop by and call out “Another DIY project, huh?”
  • Aerobics Instructor – (well, this one is just me, Mrs. PoP) – But there are neighbors that I swear have never seen me wearing anything nicer than a yoga outfit on the way to the gym. And more often, they see me after my runs and workouts all sweaty when we walk around the neighborhood for a cool-down.
  • Those Poor Kids (aka In Over Their Heads) – Kindof a variation on the DIY-ers, we’re pretty sure some of our neighbors think we’re incredibly poor – otherwise why would we tackle such big projects ourselves.
  • Weedy Lawn Couple – Where I grew up, if it was green, it was grass. ‘Nuff said. The idea of spending thousands on sod (not to mention the water bills!) is insane to us – so our lawn is definitely more weeds than grass in parts. But Mr. PoP does keep it all nicely trimmed every Saturday!
  • Ran Out of Money – Given the pace that we were renovating the house when we first moved in, I think people are surprised we haven’t done more the last couple of years to keep sprucing up the outside. (Don’t worry guys – we were just a little preoccupied with buying a rental duplex!)
  • Nice Kid, Mows Lawns On the Weekends For Extra Cash – For a while, Mr. PoP was putting the lawn mower in the back of his car and driving it over to the duplex every Saturday to mow over there. Now the ultimate luxury is having a lawn mower at each property. A-MAZ-ING.

Is That Us?

We’re pretty sure that we look like a financially struggling young couple. But we’re not – we’re doing pretty well for how old we are! Check out our current net worth if you don’t believe us. Luckily, our neighborhood isn’t one that puts a big priority on “keeping up with the Joneses”, and we don’t really care whether the neighbors think we’re poor or not.

Personally we’d rather be in our situation than the opposite – looking wealthy but drowning in debt. Heck, if thieves ever come through the neighborhood I’d much rather they think our neighbors have a lot more money so they’ll be more apt to hit their houses first!

Is keeping up appearances important in your neighborhood? Do you think you *look* your financial part? Do you want to? Would you rather look “poor” or “rich”?

44 comments to The Joneses? Never met ’em…

  • We dont have Joneses either. Just people. I think someitmes the Joneses thing has to do wtih coworkers, friends or family these days, not your actual neighbors. Know what I’m saying? What gadgets do you have to show off around the water cooler and stuff.
    TB at BlueCollarWorkman recently posted..Stealing From Your OwnMy Profile

    • I see where you’re coming from but it might depend on the office dynamic. In ours, the people with the most money tend to dress the most casually and put the lowest premium on having the newest fanciest stuff. The people that make the least money are always buying new clothes and shoes… Kindof a classic “millionaire next door scenario”

  • […] 5) Planting our Pennies: The Joneses? Never met ‘em… […]

  • haha this is so cute. We also don’t really know our neighbors but have decided we don’t like a number of them for different reasons. Terrible, I know. We really like our next-door neighbors though which is enough. We don’t hang out with them or anything but we’re friendly and they’re a sweet retired couple.
    Catherine recently posted..Weekly Reads: 26.10.12My Profile

    • Haha, well hopefully our neighbors haven’t decided they don’t like us without knowing us!

      We know one of our next door neighbors, but we’re not sure how much longer that’ll be her house since she’s now in a rehab facility recovering from a stroke! =( Such a sweet lady, too!

  • also, I love you kitty :)
    Catherine recently posted..Weekly Reads: 26.10.12My Profile

  • We live in a huge apartment complex!!!! I don’t know any of my neighbors. I know a couple people that live in the complex that attend the fitness classes. The girls are all nice, and we are by far super young compare to everyone.
    SavvyFinancialLatina recently posted..Money Should Make Money Right?My Profile

    • And apartment complexes are usually designed in ways that encourage interaction within the residents. Common elevators, your fitness classes, etc.

  • this is one of the unfortunate side effects of our current lives.. i think that our propensity to go online has pushed this even further.. most of us don’t really know our neighbors..

    we have lived in our home for 8 years now.. and know them a little better than you.. but none are good friends. i have been in all of my neighbor’s homes, and those that have kids.. do play with our kids.. but we certainly don’t watch football or party together.. although i would love to have a neighbor like that nearby..

    ftr.. we have some nicknames for our neighbors as well.. the “goodie” neighbor right down the street wears sweaters and has a mustache and glasses, so naturally is known as “Flanders”..
    jefferson @SeeDebtRun recently posted..What Does Payday Mean to You?My Profile

    • Love, love, love that you call one of your neighbors Flanders. Hi-dilly, Ho-dilly neighbor!

      Even if we don’t really *know* them, though – knowing their habits is a oddly comforting. We were able to help a neighbor when her habits changed and she didn’t pick up her paper one morning (she had a mild stroke).

  • How funny! 😀

    You know, one of the problems with neighborhoods built after, say, the 1950s is that the very design of the houses tends to discourage getting to know the neighbors. I was struck by this after we moved from a 1929 house in a historic neighborhood where we knew everyone to a 1950s house in a more upscale area where theoretically we could’ve put our kid in a public school.

    To the extent that the old houses had garages, they were separate buildings at the back of the lot. Most were too small to park late 20th-cenetury cars in, and many had been converted to studios or torn down. This meant that you usually parked on the driveway and got out of your car in front of the house. You might walk to the side door (rather than entering through the front), but at some point you were bound to see and say hello to at least one neighbor.

    Also, the neighborhood had sidewalks and a big nearby park. It was designed for walking.

    The newer neighborhood was a suburb at the time it was built (now, of course, it’s central-city). It has no sidewalks and does not invite walking. But more to the point, it has garages with electric doors. People drive into the garage, close the door, and get out of the car. So, when you arrive home from work, the grocery store, or church, you’re not going to say hello to the neighbor who’s mowing the lawn.

    The architecture itself tends to isolate us.
    Funny about Money recently posted..Why?My Profile

    • Florida has so few sidewalks in neighborhoods. It’s kindof odd, but everyone just walks in the streets – we actually have a lot of walkers in our neighborhood. But you’re definitely right about the garages. If people park in their garages we see less of them. Luckily(?) many of our neighbors have so many boats and “big toys” in their garages that people still park in the driveways so we see a bit more of them than we might otherwise.

  • Oh wow, you really know your neighbors!!

    I finally had a Jones moment when I saw my 34 year old neighbor who still lives at home with mom and dad drive out in a brand new 4Runner Toyota Limited that costs $48,000! Damn him! hahah
    Financial Samurai recently posted..Traditional Media Must Adapt Or DieMy Profile

  • I’m pretty sure that our neighbors see as the “Mortuary people” and avoid us at all costs.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..The VIP Club Roundup – 8th EditionMy Profile

  • Ivy

    How funny. I thought we were the exception, not knowing our neighbors, but seeing the comments seem to be the more common thing. I would say this is also the mobile society, not like back home in Europe where you live most of your life in one house or apartment, here it feels temporary. Plus we have plenty of friends we have chosen for interests not for location.
    To be fair, my husband who is a SAHD at least recognizes them on sight, and he has good memory for people. With me it’s just sad, I wouldn’t recognize most of them if I met them elsewhere.

    • Recognizing people out of context is actually really hard for me, too. I went to weekly yoga classes with a girl for over 2 years before seeing her at a friend’s baby shower. She came up and started talking to me and I had NO idea who she was. Wearing something other than a tank top and yoga pants with no makeup I had no clue who she was. I looked like a bit of a jerk, but she forgave me and we became better friends because of it, actually!

  • Too funny. I like maintaining this type of relationship with my neighbors, though. I mean, I don’t want to annoy them. But I do want to maintain a friendly relationship without getting intimate. I don’t need someone in my space all the time. But I watch out for my neighbors and they watch out for me. It’s pretty much perfect.
    femmefrugality recently posted..Burgh Halloween PartiesMy Profile

    • I think if we had kids it’d be different – I’d want to know more about the people around just in case… but for now, I really like our neighborhood and the easy to maintain relationship we’ve got with the rest of the people living here!

  • Mrs.CBB and I are out minimum 3 times per day and do the exact same thing as you both. I had to laugh when reading your post because I thought I was reading a conversation Mrs.CBB and I would have. We have names for our neighbours as well… even Mr.Fat cat and Socks the cat haha… I have no idea what our neighbours call us or even if they do but I’m betting so. We are very quiet as well and say hi, bye and how’s things or nice day today.. lol. Great site, just had a look around, really reminds me of us. Great job on the Net worth.. awesome. Mr.CBB
    Canadianbudgetbinder recently posted..Mr.CBB’s Weekly Blog Post Picks Oct 26,2012My Profile

    • I think it’s probably natural to have nicknames for people you don’t really know. Thanks for the compliments on the site and the net worth progress! =)

  • […] The Joneses? Never met ‘em… at Planting Our Pennies […]

  • […] Okay, onto happier things. Remember how, just a couple links ago, I talked about making choices and being happy with them? One choice that almost never makes people happy is trying to keep up with the Joneses. Over at Planting Our Pennies, they have a great way to dealing with the issue- don’t meet the Joneses. […]

  • […] Okay, onto happier things. Remember how, just a couple links ago, I talked about making choices and being happy with them? One choice that almost never makes people happy is trying to keep up with the Joneses. Over at Planting Our Pennies, they have a great way to dealing with the issue- don’t meet the Joneses. […]

  • Haha if you changed Florida to Michigan it would be as if I wrote this post. After five years we’ve only know the name of the people directly on our left.
    I’m glad to hear that we’re not the only ones with strange nicknames for almost all of our neighbors.
    justin@thefrugalpath recently posted..Friday’s Fork in the Path: Posts that Kept Me On Track 10/26My Profile

  • We’ve moved around a lot and never really gotten to know our neighbours. Our current place is probably the place where we’ve become most familiar with them (previous house was in a neighbourhood that was very rich and everyone hid away down long driveways or behind gates. Our back neighbour keeps to herself and is out a lot (except when she comes and annoys us about car parking/laundry). Next door are an older family with a bunch of young men – their sons – living at home, and a flat of 20-somethings.
    eemusings recently posted..Link love (Powered by tiramisu and the Muppets)My Profile

    • We’re not big fans of gates, either. Even the developments that have gates around them were off limits when we were looking for a house to buy because we’re just not big on how the gates feel in terms of being “welcoming”.

  • Most thieves will be convinced of a family’s wealth with the obvious: flashy cars, big houses, affluent lawn, workers doing regular jobs around the house, constant parties, and so forth. It’s better they think you’re poor so they won’t come barging through your door, huh?
    CreditDonkey recently posted..Survey: Women More Worried About Credit Card Fraud than MenMy Profile

    • That’s what we’ve convinced ourselves of, so I hope it’s true. I’ve also heard that gated communities around here tend to have more robberies than non-gated neighborhoods like the one we live in. Guess the gate provides only a false sense of security.

  • OMG, this is absolutely hilarious! You make me want to do this for my own neighborhood (if I do, I’ll be sure to let you know the results). We would probably be “the loud people” – because everything about us (kids, dog, cars) are noisy.

    In our neighborhood, though, appearances aren’t all that important – it’s not that posh of a place. My parents neighborhood, though, is another story!
    Elizabeth @ Simple Finance recently posted..(Inexpensive) Personalized GiftsMy Profile

    • Oh you should totally do it and share. I am dying of curiosity to hear about some of the other characters that people have around their neighborhoods!

  • […] The Joneses? Never met’em – Planting our Pennies […]

  • […] you think about it, do you really have Joneses in your life? Planting Our Pennies may be […]

  • Congrats! Your post was picked for the top post of this weeks Carnival of Personal Finance:
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  • […] Planting Our Pennies: The Joneses? Never Met Em… […]

  • […] post The Joneses? Never Met ‘Em was highlighted as Jeff Rose’s best post of the week in the Carnival of Personal Finance this […]

  • […] is mostly true. Our next-door neighbor is more than three times as old as we are, and although our neighborhood isn’t ostentatious, most of its members are wealthy enough to have a home in Fla., and somewhere up […]

  • […] the end, yes it’s a little weird that our neighbors could find a copy of our marriage certificate online if they really wanted to.  But it seems like […]

  • […] the easiest way to explain it is to introduce you to a “friend” of ours in the neighborhood.  Stumpy is at least a part-time resident in The Tree in our front yard.  While Stumpy is a […]