Lifestyle Inflation? Yeah, I’m Guilty.

Some how, some way, I got roped into the whole pursuit of stuff, status, and happiness thing.  That is really embarrassing to say, but hey…I said it.  As is the case with our entire culture, at some point in my life (it was around 26 years of age) my focus went from trying to get better stuff to trying to get more stuff.  I joined right in with the other consumers of the world, and the more money I made the more stuff I bought.  Well, as I laid out in a previous post, I decided to sell all of my stuff and turn the tide on my life.

Nonetheless, I am still recovering from my stupidity.  I have about 6 months left until I am “back to the basics”, which means debt free minus the housing.

Here’s the stuff I did that got me into the mess in the first place:

  1. I started making more money.  Now I know this is not in and of itself a bad thing.  However, I was too young, stupid, and uneducated to know how to create a budget and maximize this money.  This whole making more money thing had some bad consequences!
  2. I bought nice cars.  Damn, I love cars.  I had some really nice ones, too.  An Audi and a Porsche that I still miss to this day (sniff…).  Problem is, I did what every other knucklehead does and figured that since I had the salary I could afford X% monthly nut for a car.  Besides, there are millions of calculators online that told me I could, too!  Stupid.
  3. I bought a house that the mortgage company told me was perfect for my income.  Hey, Wells Fargo told me that 40% of my salary on a 30 year fixed mortgage was a good way to go; who was I to question?  If I had to do it again, I would have bought way less house.
  4. I filled this house (and another one, by the way) with a lot of stuff.  Again, I had the rooms.  They couldn’t be empty, right?
I consider myself a pretty smart guy, but man…typing the stuff above really makes me feel like a tool.  I didn’t own my stuff; it owned me.  I told myself I “deserved” it for my hard work.  I enjoy my work a lot, so it wasn’t like I was easing the pain of the drudgery of a 9-5 job or anything.  I just thought at the time that I would work forever so I would keep the payments going and that would be that.  Either way, my expenses matched my income.  That is called lifestyle inflation any way you cut it!
After this crazy bout of spending and earning was done, here I am trying to downsize my lifestyle (and my expenses) and work less, thus having more time at an early age to enjoy the simple act of living.  
You can check out my older posts (and future ones) to see how I have alleviated many of these expenses.  I am in a totally different place now than I was a year ago.  I have done the following through budgeting and cutting:
  1. I sold my cars, walk more, and will be taking up bike riding soon as a means of transportation (post on the way!).
  2. I refinanced my homes to a low 2.75%, 15 year rate.  I sold a ton of stuff and cleared out many rooms.
  3. I write out a budget monthly with my wife and give every dollar a name.  I also do not use credit cards and pay cash only for everything.

So here’s the deal:

By June 2013, I pledge to be in a position to live off of only 60% of my income each month.   

It’s hard to make promises like that to the world, but I need to be held accountable for this one.  I want you readers to bug me about this goal come June!

At that point, I am going to be very interested to see how I feel about working.  Will I want to work as much as I do and continue to save a lot, perhaps for an early retirement (see my favorite links)?  Will I want to take a mini-retirement immediately since I won’t have to make as much to cover expenses?  I am anxious to see what will happen.

I’ll keep you posted along the way…..


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