(Still on vacation, but I couldn’t bring myself to leave the blog completely empty. Enjoy!)
One of the things that personal finance gurus and bloggers alike warn against is lifestyle inflation. Lifestyle inflation happens when you get a raise or move to an area with lower rent or somehow come into more money than normal and then you suddenly find yourself spending more money than you were. You can afford to, after all. You have all this new money.
The better plan, of course, is to not let lifestyle inflation get to you and instead take all that newfound money and put it into some form of savings or use it to pay off debt.
I think I’m pretty good at preventing lifestyle inflation, but I’m not perfect. After my roommate moved in and I got a small raise, I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for a membership at a gym around the corner from my office. So far, i’ts been a really great plan. I hit the gym just about every day at lunch and it’s been great for my stress levels, plus I feel like I have so much more free time by getting my workout “out of the way” during the day.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I got a promotion and a raise at work, and I just recently received my first paycheck with the new numbers. I’ve been looking into increasing my TSP (401(k)) contributions as a possibility for some of this newfound money, and I’m also considering the possibility that my roommate might be moving out at the end of the summer. But I also let myself get talked into a Netflix account, something I’ve been toying with for years.
I can hear you all laughing now. I’ve been debating over a monthly membership that will cost me under $20? Well, yes. Sure, I can very easily drop $20 during a night out at the bar, but for whatever reason, this was a big deal to me. I like that it’s not a long-term subscription and I can cancel it at anytime, and I’ve also linked my account to FeedFlix so I can very easily figure out my cost per movie and decide whether or not the plan is actually right for me.
I guess in terms of lifestyle inflation, it’s not that bad. And it’s probably good that I look at these things with such a close eye. If only I were just as cautious when going out for drinks with friends!
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.