You know me by now, right? So you know that I’m always fairly honest and open with what’s going on in my life, with both the good and the…not-so-good. Today’s post is a little bit of a confession: Since I’ve started my full time job back in December, I’ve succumbed a little bit to lifestyle inflation. Anyone want to assign me a penance? 🙂
This is not a tale of hitting rock bottom though. Thankfully, I’m far from that, in fact, my net worth has been steadily growing since my new job, and I’ve almost reached my emergency fund milestone of $20,000, and I’m saving between 35% to 40% of my income each month, but, I also know what a slippery slope lifestyle inflation can be. It can start off rather innocent, and the next thing you know, you’re writing articles for The Atlantic like this guy did. No thanks.
When I first started my new job, the plan was to live with, “an artificial economic environment of scarcity,” which I had read in The Millionaire Next Door. I mean, I was already used to living with a meager budget, so why change things? Well, easier said than done.
Initially I did anything but live frugally when I started my new job. I bought a couple new threads, treated my best friend to a dinner out (since I owe a lot of my sanity to him), and tied up a few loose ends that I had been putting off. But I quickly regained control and settled in to a continued frugal existence.
But, things have a tendency to have a slow creep. Where I once had been ridiculously diligent with my budget, there were times that weeks went by where I didn’t even open it. And I just threw the receipts away that had been sitting on my kitchen table, instead of recording it in my excel spreadsheet. “Next month,” I thought. And that’s easy to do since I know now I always have money in my accounts, as opposed to the days where I’d sprint to the mailbox, hoping a client had finally paid me.
There were two instances this month where after a day of cheap fun in the sun and exercise, I was perfectly content to settle into a night of “Netflix and chillin’ (albeit not the kind the “kids” are referring to these days), when someone texted me and asked if I wanted to go out to eat. Never mind the fact that I had good food in the fridge, I was just excited that friends had invited me out (because for so long I think they knew that the answer would almost always be “no”).
Not only did I have a hangover the next day (sadly having only two drinks can make me feel like crap), I was out upwards of around $20-$30. Again, not harmful in and of itself, but when you add it all up…
Granted not all has fallen off the rails. Whew! I still adamantly bring my lunch every day to work (or go home for lunch). I haven’t had a pedicure since before starting my job (I’m embarrassed to be seen with my feet), I’ve barely seen a movie at the theater, and while I’d love to had more new threads, I’m just too lazy to go shopping. In fact, I have a budget to buy some clothes for on-camera work through my job, and I’ve been sitting on if for over a month! That’s how much I hate shopping!
Today I was tending to my garden (I feel smug just saying that) and I had this idea that I would pop on over to the 99 Cents Store and buy some garden chachkies to decorate the backyard. Our good friend Shannon’s voice popped into my head and reminded me of what she calls our, “sacred cows. It’s those things in life that are so sacred to us that are totally worth spending money on. The things we hold near and dear to our hearts. Garden chachkies, although fairly cheap at that store, are not one of them. In fact, that goes against my minimalistic tendencies as well.
It’s so important to check in with our own sacred cows ALL the time, because they are easy to set aside and forget. For instance, one of my sacred cows is good, healthy food. In fact, anything related to good health. I’m doing a disservice to my pet cow by going out to eat (when I’m not, like super dying to go) because not only am I spending money, but I feel kind of frumpy afterwards.
And although, like I said earlier, I am saving a good amount of my paycheck per month (despite lifestyle creep), another sacred cow of mine is being as financially free as humanly possible. I have nearly seven years of retirement savings I need to catch up on (since I barely saved a penny as a freelancer).
So, time to buckle down and re-focus on those things that are most important to me and get back to a more disciplined financial state. My budget will thank me.
Have you ever experienced a lifestyle creep in your own life? How do you get back on track?