The materialistic masses who strive for the latest and greatest are said to be “keeping up with the Joneses.” But who are the Joneses and how can they afford so much?

The phrase comes from an early 20th-century comic appropriately titled “Keeping up With the Joneses,” by Arthur “Pop” Momand. The Joneses were neighbors to the McGinis family (the main characters) and were sometimes referenced as “objects of envy.” According to Don Markstein’s Toonpedia, the Joneses never actually appeared in the comic, but that didn’t stop the phrase from catching on with image-conscious consumers.

For what it’s worth, Wikipedia believes Momand may have named the Joneses after George and Lucretia Jones, parents of novelist Edith Wharton. Another possibility is that Momand simply picked the name “Jones” because of its popularity. The comic could have just as easily been called “Keeping up With the Smiths” or “Darn that Rich Johnson Family!”

As for how the Joneses financed their lavish style, who knows. We can only assume they died penniless and disgraced. After all, living beyond one’s means has consequences.

Update: I was recently reminded about the wonderful British comedy series "Keeping Up Appearances" - below is season 1, episode 1 - it speaks for itself