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Home » Lifestyle Finance

Lifestyle Inflation, Justified.

Last updated by on February 15, 2016

“As long as I’m going to college, I might as well get a top notch degree. It may be pricey, but school is good debt. Besides, dad will help out, right?”

“Now that I have tens of thousands in student loans, I need to move to a big city to pay my debts.”

“Big cities are competitive, so I gotta look good. Better get some hipster threads.”

“I could buy a cheap or used car, but this one has every single feature I could ever want. And it only adds $100 per month to my payments.”

“Work isn’t really what I thought it might be. If I get the MBA, I should be able to land a much more exciting job. It will be a good investment in myself.”

“The job market is tough right now, but I have my MBA, so I should hold out for something better.”

“This job pays more, but not quite what I was hoping for. I should take it though. I can move up quickly. I do need some new shoes though. And a new smartphone”

“3 months expenses on an engagement ring is the norm? I better bump it to 4 so that she doesn’t think I’m cheap.”

“Wow, can’t believe I’m finally getting married. My fiance wants it to be perfect in every way. You only get married once, right?

“You only take one honeymoon. Let’s make it the best trip EVER!”

lifestyle inflation

“Now that we’re married, let’s start looking for a house.”

“We’ll be in this house for the next 15 years. We want it to be big enough for a dog, 2 kids, maybe 3. Besides, a mortgage is good debt, and we’ll get our money back when we sell.”

“We have this huge house, but it’s pretty darn empty. What’s a house, if it isn’t well decorated and comfortable? Lets go down to the furniture store this weekend.”

“Yeah, we’re only 25, but who wants to be an old parent? We better have that first kid NOW.”

“Cloth diapers? Gross!”

“Only-children aren’t well adjusted. We better have our second before we get too old.”

“We only get 2 weeks vacation. Let’s make it count. We should take the kids to Disney World.”

“Yeah, $40,000 is pricey for a kitchen renovation, but we’ll get our money back if we sell. And might as well enjoy it in the meantime!”

“You can’t have a kick-ass kitchen without new wine glasses, knives, cookware, and dinnerware to match!”

“I like my job, but this other one pays better. And I’ve got bills and debts to pay.”

“We simply can’t move in to a smaller house. Let’s find a nice big one in the suburbs that is safe for the kids. Better yet, let’s build!”

“Call the movers, honey, we just outbid that other couple. And it will only cost us another $100 per month on our second mortgage.”

“We can’t sell the home by owner, let’s call that realtor and just bump up the price 6%.”

“Yeah, we have 2 cars, but neither travels well in the snow. Now that we have a kid, we should get a 4-wheel drive truck too. Besides, we already have a 3 car garage, why not fill it?”

“Our DVD’s don’t work well on this new plasma TV. Let’s get a Blu-Ray.”

“We got this Blu-Ray, but in order to enjoy it, we should upgrade our collection.”

“We don’t want to lose our house, the car, or our retirement plans. We better beef up our auto, home, and life insurance.”

“A divorce would be best. Our careers have changed us. We’ll both be happier.”

“It’s my second marriage, but it’s her first. I want it to be nice for her.”

“You only live once!”

“Might as well go out with a bang. That Brazilian walnut casket looks beautiful.”

The subtle and seemingly harmless allure of expansion tempts you with every major life decision. How you respond to those temptations determines the journey and the destination. Choose wisely.

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About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • AJ says:

    Oh man, G.E. that was so depressing! I don’t know what happened, but suddenly we were talking about a second mortgage, second marriage and..death! Ouch lol I should print this out and put it on my fridge titled “DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN – AVOID AT ALL COSTS!”

  • Emily @ evolvingPF says:

    Love this! So hilarious and sad! Gotta nip lifestyle inflation in the bud.

  • Dan says:

    GE – different people have different values. It seems like every one of your posts ignores this simple concept.

    I value a nice car, but do not need a lavish wedding. I value knowledge so an education makes sense. I don’t care about clothes so I wear old T-shirts and jeans. I value time and experiences – so I pay more for nonstop flights and I buy nice tickets to sporting events. I don’t want to be 50 years old and have zero life experiences because I did want to spend $40 extra dollars to make an experience more memorable.

    Life is meant to be enjoyed. The whole point of having money is so you don’t have to worry about money!

    A couple weeks ago some results from an 85 question survey given to Harvard Business School’s Class of 1986 were made public. 25 years later it was found that the median annual net income was $350,000 and the median personal net worth was $6 million.

    Sounds like some people made good investments in themselves.

    • G.E. Miller says:

      I think you’ve missed the point, which is this: it is very easy to justify the super, shiny, bigger, sexier, easier, more convenient option. Many of these justifications have run through my mind and I’m guilty of giving in to a few myself – I’m judging the cliche – not the individual decision here. Sometimes that voice is driven by peer pressure and should be ignored. Sometimes it’s driven by 20,000 ad messages drilled through your head, and should be ignored. At other times, the expenditure might actually be worth it. At some point we ALL face that voice in our heads. Always saying “yes” is how lifestyle inflation happens and is the reason most Americans have a shit net worth and work themselves to death.

      To your “every one of your posts” comment, I understand people have different values. But, how would you suggest I cater to everyone’s differing values? Ultimately, my posts are a one-man show, it’s a PERSONAL finance blog, and I’m an opinionated guy with my own value set. I’ve read watered down personal finance blogs that are mostly written by ghost writers, and they bore the crap out of me. If you want one of those, there’s this little box at the top of your web browser where you can enter in a new URL and hit enter.

  • Nick says:

    I love this post! Classic stuff. It’s what I hear all around me.

  • Debt Free Teen says:

    Awesome post!!! So many people in our generation justify it all. I refuse to be in debt and fool myself. The media portrays student debt as a given not an option.

  • Clint says:

    Really great post! Also very scary as you can get sucked into the bigger, more, me me me mentality very quickly within our society.

  • IdaBaker says:

    I know a few people who think like, “Money comes, money goes,” with little or no thought for tomorrow.

    Your post illustrates that fact clearly. Of course, different people choose different parts of life that are more important to them, but in the big picture, we all have to make those choices.

    Thanks for taking the big picture on!!

  • Rick says:

    For the record, cloth diapers are gross.

  • Matt says:

    I like your post, it reminds me of Trainspotting, the film.
    People should be given a spreadsheet the day they open their first account. This spreadsheet should be a pie chart with incomings divided up into how it should be spent. Just big general categories. If a person doesn’t want a lavish wedding but instead spends it on a great vacation then that’s ok, it comes from the same segments in the pie chart. What does not change is the basics.
    Don’t buy more than you can afford and be realistic about what you’re going to get back.
    I think most people read this blog because they are interested in how others exercise prudence.

  • bbatson says:

    Man I have missed this blog!


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