Lifestyle Creep

I don’t know about you, but the first time I got paid, I thought I was the richest person in the world. Granted, I was 17 and my only expenses were gas for my glorious little red Honda Civic ($16 for a full tank of gas in 2003), my cell phone bill ($28 per month) and fun money (which likely meant coffee and clothes… nothing has changed in 14 years). I was making $7.30 an hour as a barista and I was on top of the freaking world. I went from making NOTHING to making what felt like a million dollars… bliss.

Fast forward ten years – still hustling (side gigs, part-time jobs, full-time jobs) then I landed a ‘career’ job – one that wasn’t temporary or merely a means to an end – I was a trainee solicitor at an American law firm in London on my way to becoming a corporate lawyer. Hot damn – watch out world!

Over the course of the three years spent at the firm in London my salary tripled – and I never received any bonus – that was just the base salary. Now, the salary practically doubles upon qualification as a solicitor (attorney in American terms) – so that was expected… but because of the salary increases in American firms in the US (and abroad), my firm was also subject to market pressure to pay its lawyers top dollar. I tip my hat to you, peer pressure.

But when I left that job, I still had a TON of debt. Where did that money go? I’ll tell you.

LIFESTYLE CREEP

We have all seen it – our salaries go up but instead of saving that extra bit every month, we end up spending it on other stuff… and it happens to everyone (celebrities are the worst… particularly reality tv stars – there are always stories about them filing for bankruptcy).

My living expenses didn’t triple… I wasn’t paying down my debt three times as quickly as when I started at the firm… in fact, I had accrued MORE debt and not made meaningful progress on my outstanding debt. I was living large – much larger than I needed to – because I “could” (in reality, I couldn’t). I was shopping, traveling, going out, having so much fun – then I met the Enemy of Fun – the most fiscally responsible person I have ever met.  Wanna hear something crazy? His salary also more than tripled over the course of several years in an American law firm… but his expenses and cost of living have stayed the same… EVERY.SINGLE.YEAR. oh – and he has a positive net worth and no cash flow issues (for years)… the mind boggles.

Before he met me, he was subject to his internal, stringent Enemy of Fun ways (i.e., no fun). But now… fun abounds (and is mandatory). We (he) is very conscious of our (my) spending and as a result, I look for ways to have just as much fun, to the standard I expect (high obvi), at a price he finds (almost) reasonable, or rather, acceptable.

And it is possible! I promise! I will be doing a whole series of “Ways to Save” without sacrificing the fun, the Instagram pics or the experiences… but in the meantime, don’t let lifestyle creep get the best of you and your hard earned money.

Sincerely yours in harmonious fun and fiscal responsibility,

Rachel

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