- Anna Baluch and her husband have grown their income during their careers, but they haven’t allowed their lifestyle to grow with it.
- Spending more as you earn more is called lifestyle inflation, and it’s a common spending trap that can stand in the way of building wealth.
- To resist lifestyle inflation, Baluch keeps busy, focuses on long-term goals, and treats herself every once in a while.
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I grew up in an upper class community where many of my peers had the latest and greatest of everything.
Any time any of my friends showed up to school in a $200 pair of jeans from Nordstrom, I went home and asked my parents if I could get them too. Almost always, the answer was no. At the time, I was mad at them for saying no but today I am forever grateful.
While I didn’t get all the “things” I wanted growing up, my parents took me on a memorable vacation every year and paid for my undergraduate and graduate education in full. Their priorities were travel and education rather than having the largest house, a closet full of designer clothing, and the fanciest cars.
Although they owned a successful business, they didn’t allow lifestyle inflation to creep up on them and deter them from their long-term goals. They set a wonderful example for me because now that I’m a 29, I am pretty good at resisting lifestyle inflation.
Since my husband and I now earn more than we ever have before and keep our expenses low by having no mortgage or car payments, we have a considerable amount of cash left over at the end of every month.
Sometimes, we’re tempted to “live it up” and use it to inflate our lifestyles. However, we almost always resist this temptation as we know that living well below our means is what will allow us to meet (or even exceed) our long-term financial goals, like paying for some home updates in cash and maxing out our retirement accounts.
Here are five reasons I am able to do so.
1. I value experiences over things
Although I’d love to drive a luxury SUV rather than my Honda, experiences are more important to me than things like cars. I’d rather go on a girls trip with my sisters or getaway for the weekend with my husband than have a fancy car. By prioritizing experiences over things, I am able to say “no” to frequent mall trips and “yes” to vacation planning.
2. I only shop when I have to
When I was younger, I used to go shopping simply because I was bored. I didn’t actually need anything. I was just looking for a way to kill some time so I went to the mall, Target, CVS, and other stores for fun. Of course, these random shopping trips led me to spend money on things I really didn’t need. Now, I only go shopping out of necessity. You won’t see me in a Target unless I really need something.
3. I keep busy
I found that the busier I am, the less I care about keeping up with the Joneses. Since I have a pretty jam-packed schedule that consists of writing, working out, and hanging out with friends and family, I don’t have much time to pay attention to what other people have that I don’t have. While my life can get hectic at times, I know that keeping busy is good for my soul (and my wallet!)
4. I treat myself every so often
Every once in a while, I treat myself to something special. Whether it’s a Starbucks coffee, new workout clothes, or a meal at Fleming’s (my favorite steakhouse), treating myself keeps me motivated and focused on my long-term goals. While I do believe resisting lifestyle inflation is one of the keys to financial success, I also believe in living your life to the fullest and treating myself (maybe once a month) allows me to do just that.
5. I write down my long-term goals
Having long-term goals that you’re determined to meet can really help you resist lifestyle temptation. My husband and I have a list of long-term goals that we’ve framed and placed on our dresser. Every time, I want something I really don’t need, I simply look at our goals and am suddenly convinced I don’t need to blow money on Chipotle for lunch when I have a fridge full of food at home.
Spending less when you earn more is no walk in the park. However, with determination and a focus on the future, it is possible.