Here’s why you shouldn’t keep up with the Joneses (PICS)

I don’t have a subscription to the Wall Street Journal, so I couldn’t read this article.

However, it’s safe to assume that Mr. Greene regrets building his MegaMansion. I don’t have any statistical proof on this…. but I would estimate that 90% of the people who buy very large homes end up regretting their purchases at some point in the future.

We often hear the old saying that we shouldn’t try to “keep up with the Joneses.”

Have you ever wondered where this saying came from? I have, so I ended up doing a a little research and was shocked by what I found!

The phrase is believed to have come from Wyndcliffe Mansion owned by Elizabeth Shermerhorn Jones. In 1853, she built a massive gothic mansion, which was about a hundred miles north of New York.

The mansion had 24 rooms with ornate finishes, including Tiffany skylights. The mansion featured nine bedrooms, five bathrooms and four fireplaces. It actually sat on 80 acres with spectacular Hudson River views. The 80 acres featured sweeping grounds with boat and carriage houses, along with tennis courts where players could apparently enjoy cold beer piped directly from the home.

From Atlas Obscura: “Wyndcliffe was so magnificent and imposing it inspired a fashion among her similarly wealthy contemporaries to build their own palatial mansions along the Hudson Valley. But Elizabeth’s was the first and the grandest.”

Ms. Jones was apparently related to two prominent New York families that included the Astors and the Whartons. This home and her connection to New York high society spurred a building boom by the wealthiest families, leading to the saying “keeping up with the Joneses.”

You can actually see this in action by studying the dates of when grand estates were built by other prominent families. They all seemed to have been built subsequent to Wyndcliffe Mansion.

Sadly, after her death, the Wyndcliffe mansion fell into disrepair. Future owners couldn’t maintain the home, and it was utlimately abandoned in 1950 never to be lived in again.

Today, the mansion is in ruins. Walls are missing. Whole floors have collapsed, and entire sections of the original home are gone. The landscaping has overtaken the property and it’s a pile of bricks and debris.

At some point, one of the owners of the property sold off over 77 acres of the surrounding land. 🙁

The home actually sold a year or two ago for $120,000 at an auction. Rumor has it that it’s being renovated to bring it back its orginal glory. 🙂

I tried to determine when Ms. Jones passed away, but couldn’t seem to locate the date of her death. The question I was pondering was:

“How long did the original Jones family enjoy living like the Joneses?”

My guess is her enjoyment of this beautiful home was short-lived.

The reality is that time always wins.

The high cost of living compounded over time tends to be too much for most, including our beloved Joneses.

The next time you’re thinking of up upgrading your lifestyle, remember Ms. Elizabeth Jones. Think of how her lovely home has deteriorated. Consider the ultimate fate of those who owned this home, or similar homes and do NOT copy them.

The Joneses don’t own their homes. Their homes own them. Their homes end up destroying them more and more with each passing year. This applies to Mr. Greene, too.

This same outcome has happened time and time again, and you can see it by studying what has happened to those who built palatial homes back in the 1800s and early 1900s.

In Cleveland, one of our big claims to fame back then was “Millionaires’ Row.” The homes on Euclid Avenue were some of the most beautiful homes in the world.

In fact, one of the residents on Millionaires’ Row was Mr. John Rockefeller. You’ve heard of him, right?

All but four of these amazing homes are gone. 🙁

If you study other fortune builders from this time period, you’ll find the same story repeating itself over and over again.

Check out an older article I wrote about the Vanderbilt fortune and their grand estates here. You’ll see how the Vanderbilt family blew the largest fortune in the world trying to keep up with Ms. Jones. 🙁

I’m serious…. this is exactly what happened!

It’s simply fascinating.