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I felt like Admiral Ackbar; ready for the battle against lifestyle inflation. I had a fleet of fellow rebellion ships, and there was a carefully crafted plan of attack. All I had to do, was show up, and crush the dark side of the force – lifestyle inflation.
Only did I realize, too late.
Best Laid Plans
Much of my financial knowledge is built on a foundation of library books. I have watched a few training videos on LinkedIn Learning and read some blogs, but much of my financial insight was gleaned from library books.
At my local library, I have read about half the collection of personal finance books. I borrow other books too, but I devour nonfiction finance. I wasn’t always like this, but as I became more familiar with the topic, I kept seeing the same stuff come up again and again.
The more familiar it became, the more I enjoyed the content. One of the easiest concepts to understand was lifestyle inflation. As wages go up, so does spending. More here, equals more there. Its as logical as spicy food now more bathroom time later; it’s logical and expected.
More money means more stuff. The problem with more stuff is the less money I have because of it.
Then like a laser wielding red demon, the more stuff causes more maintenance like when I buy a phone.
I buy a phone, but it needs a data plan too. Then a phone cover and case. Then I get swindled into insurance because I don’t want to pay for another phone when my current one decides to go for a swim in the toilet. As I become more observant with Yoda like mindfulness of spending, I realize that upgrading isn’t just the sticker price. There are little purchases that are just as lame as the overall cost.
But after reading personal finance books, I began to emit a smug overconfidence. I was doing all the right things like budgeting and aggressively tracking my spending. I even calculated my paycheck down to percentages of spending and saving.
Little did I know, I was building my own trap.
I was looking at my budget and adjusting for a big change, going from full-time to part-time. As I was changing numbers and looking at my expenses, a thought fought through the fog, “Why is my spending so much higher than it used to be earlier in the year?” As I sifted through numbers, a slow, painful realization began to take hold. I had given my spending a pay raise when my paycheck increased.
It felt like the one time my husband went to the Kennedy Space Center without me – irritated with a dash of confusion (you don’t even like space, Mr. BuLL!).
After all my training, I had fallen into the lifestyle inflation trap and let my spending increase.
Winning a Battle
The damage was minimal since my wages had only increased a few months ago but, it’s still annoying that it happened in the first place! What good is a library’s worth of knowledge, if I’m not going to use it?!
The course is corrected. I adjusted my budget to fixed amounts. What isn’t being used for monthly expenses is being forced into fortifying my future expeditions and investment accounts.
The next time I have an influx of cash, there won’t be an unexpected trap of lifestyle inflation waiting.