Save. Spend. Splurge.

Lifestyle Inflation and Deflation: When you YOLO and upgrade without thinking

I have been thinking a lot about lifestyle inflation.

Once you start making money it is INEVITABLE you will upgrade your lifestyle even just a little.

(Don’t lie. We all know what you did with that work bonus and it is sitting in your closet right now.)

Maybe it isn’t noticeable but instead of a weekly coffee treat, it becomes a daily one.

Or maybe like me you decide you simply cannot deal with secondhand garbage any more for cars that threaten safety and peace of mind, and upgrade to something luxurious.

The problem with all of that, is of course, that you can’t really deflate your lifestyle inflation without a little pain and sweat.

If I ever need to go back to a small or secondhand car, I am going to find it very hard to downgrade especially now that I know what is out there and what it feels like to drive something so nice.

This is partly why I am also making sure to really take care of this rather expensive consumer gadget (yes, cars are consumer items to me because the worst possible thing is to have to downgrade to a bus pass and wrangle a small, wriggly, grumpy child every morning and afternoon on it during all sorts of weather conditions).

You get too used to the cushy comforts and it stops being a luxury and starts being normal.

I was talking to a colleague the other day in his late 50s who just said out of the blue:

I need to start saving more money and cutting back on my lifestyle.

I didn’t say anything in particular, but that kind of statement strikes fear in my little personal finance (PF) heart (yes I do have a piece of it!) because I don’t want to be that person at 50-ish, suddenly realizing she spent her whole life living it up like a happy grasshopper only to realize winter is coming and she is effed for it.

I don’t think (actually I am certain) I won’t reach that point, seeing as I am closing in within the next year or two (if I continue working full-time) into personally becoming a millionaire by myself all before the age of 40, but it still makes me think:

I need to re-evaluate my life.

I don’t want to be living on beans and rice in a cardboard box.

I don’t necessarily want to retire tomorrow or even at 40, but I do WANT to retire some day, or at least have the freedom and the option!

….which comes all the way back to lifestyle inflation.

If I keep inflating my expenses, I am never going to reach that kind of independence if things start getting too comfortable for me and I have to keep “upping the ante” so to speak, to feel like it is a treat for me.

My latest concerns center for now, mostly around my spa treatments. You know, a $50 pedicure here and there, monthly, laser hair removal which is now costing me upwards of $1000 in total…. that stuff….. is it really necessary?

I gave it some solid thought on the weekend as I was walking around listening to music, window shopping, and I came to the conclusion that laser hair removal would make a difference in my life as it would:

  • shave off (lol @ the pun) time from shaving in the shower
  • not having to carry or think about bringing a razor WITH SHARP BLADES when I am traveling and accidentally nicking myself (yes I have done this, and skinned my fingers as I reached into my toiletry bag)
  • not give me razor burn any more (not that I really had it but let’s avoid this..)

So $1000?

For a permanent solution that I don’t need to upkeep or maintain every month or so (unlike pedicures!!)?

Why not. Yes, I can accept that.

My second concern has been with upgrading to A phone. As you may or may not know, I do not have a cellphone personally. I share it with my partner, and it costs $35 a month for us.

Do I want to upgrade to (A) buy a new phone for $1000 and then (B) pay for a monthly plan at $40 a month (taxes in)?

That’s $480 a year, for the next 50 years presumably, which is about $24,000! Is it worth it? Just for some wifi connectivity 24/7, can make a call or two in an emergency…

I am seriously considering it because it’s more the fact that I can make an emergency call that gets to me.

What if I am out in the middle of nowhere with my baby and I need help? I would have to try and go find a wifi connection to call!? Insanity.

I’m already leaning towards buying and having this plan come September, and I guess since it can go under the company, it will not be as painful… and will shave off about $5000 on the overall cost.

I know I sound insane / silly because I have an expensive car, but then I don’t have a basic cellphone plan, but this is all part and parcel of me THINKING about my lifestyle inflation and wondering if the delta is worth it to upgrade.

I have to make choices, and prioritize what I want out of life, and every single decision I make, has to be something that I firmly know and believe I cannot downgrade from in the future (nice car, basic cellphone plan)…

Other than that, the rest is unnecessary, isn’t it?


  • Jessica

    I had laser hair removal done on my underarms about 10 years ago, and once I was done my initial set of sessions (after which it was ALL GONE) I never went back for any annual upkeep or anything. Now I’m right back where I started. Don’t believe the hype about it being permanent, it’s not. I mean, everyone is different, but I have super pale white skin and super dark black hair so I was basically the poster child for getting good results. I don’t mean to burst your bubble but it sucks when the beauty industry tells you something that’s not true. It will require upkeep and maintenance costs.

    • Alice

      I second this comment. I only went for 3 sessions instead of all 9(?), and in less than a year I’m back to square one. There was less growth for a few months, but according to my friend who worked there, people need to keep coming back to keep it completely hair free. Since you’ve already been going for sessions, it might be worth a shot to see how long it lasts for you.

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