Author Topic: Do you battle lifestyle creep?  (Read 10321 times)

Villanelle

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Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« on: April 19, 2016, 08:26:54 PM »
It seems like many, perhaps include Pete, don't seem to battle too much with lifestyle creep.  I'm wondering how many of the rest of us do, and how people go about locking down on the mental aspect of that.  Lately, I'm really stressed because we have so very much going on, and I've very much been tempted to throw money at the problem.  Some of that is buying things, but much of it is paying for convenience, speed, and ease.  It's not that I'm suddenly coveting a nicer car or designer shoes, but someone else to cook dinner or buying some item without researching the heck out of it to make sure it the cheapest place to buy the specific item and the best value version of all the choices.

I do feel like it will naturally pass at the end of July when we are in our new home and things are settled in our new home country, but I don't really want allow this, or at least not to the extent I'm tempted, to go on that long, and I'm wondering what narratives others use if stuff like this pops up. 

erae

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2016, 09:37:29 PM »
We made a big move last year and saw our expenses - even outside of expenses directly related to the move - spike for about six months. I think the keys to bringing our spending back to our pre-move levels were to (1) know what our baseline spending looked like in each category of our budget so we knew exactly where and how we were inflating,(2) to give ourselves a limited window (two months in our case) in which convenience will be valued over frugality, and (3) push as many non-urgent purchases as possible outside of that 2-month free-for-all window to ensure you're actively working towards you baseline spending.

We took two months of no judgement spending on convenience (buying without exhaustive comparative research, lots of take-out dinners, paying folks to do work we would normally do ourselves or to expedite services) and then began to reign it back in. We got the necessary furniture (a bed, sofa, stools at the breakfast nook, and home office) up and running in those first couple months using reasonable options (Cost Plus World Market and Ikea) but not the more frugal options (craigslist, clearance sales, etc.)

Months 3-6 each had a larger planned furniture expense in which we shopped around, looked for sales, or tried (unsuccessfully) to find a good option on craigslist. Rugs one month, dining room table the next, the piano we always promised we'd get when we had more space the following month. At the end of each month, we looked at our expenses to ensure that only our planned furniture purchases were elevating our credit card bill, and brought the rest of our spending back to our pre-move baseline.

The line between self-care and laziness can be blurry, but 10 months post-move, our spending is now below our pre-move baseline. 

Moustachienne

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2016, 09:47:37 PM »
This is a really timely question for me.  We have some family and health issues to deal with and no time to "optimize".  I don't see this as lifestyle creep, though.  It's more about spending what's necessary for a short term situation, knowing that we can afford to because we're usually much more frugal.  This is the rainy day, or actually the rainy season.  But I do still feel a twinge so I get you.

Zikoris

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2016, 10:29:46 PM »
Not really - we purposely designed our lifestyle so that the "correct" actions are basically the least effort. For example, it would be way more trouble for us to eat out than cook, because we keep our kitchen really well stocked and have an arsenal of fast and easy recipes on hand, plus we always have plenty of tasty leftovers portioned out and ready to go. We don't have a car to begin with, so there's no temptation to drive places rather than bike or walk. At this point everything is just kind of set to autopilot, so the ongoing effort required is really minimal.

We don't really do much research into purchases because we just don't buy much outside of food and essentials. Looking at Mint I see that last month we bought some stickers at the dollar store, a couch to 5K running app, a pair of tights, a dish drying rack, and three work shirts at a warehouse sale, total $89. Zero research done for any of that.

Villanelle

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2016, 10:40:35 PM »
We made a big move last year and saw our expenses - even outside of expenses directly related to the move - spike for about six months. I think the keys to bringing our spending back to our pre-move levels were to (1) know what our baseline spending looked like in each category of our budget so we knew exactly where and how we were inflating,(2) to give ourselves a limited window (two months in our case) in which convenience will be valued over frugality, and (3) push as many non-urgent purchases as possible outside of that 2-month free-for-all window to ensure you're actively working towards you baseline spending.

We took two months of no judgement spending on convenience (buying without exhaustive comparative research, lots of take-out dinners, paying folks to do work we would normally do ourselves or to expedite services) and then began to reign it back in. We got the necessary furniture (a bed, sofa, stools at the breakfast nook, and home office) up and running in those first couple months using reasonable options (Cost Plus World Market and Ikea) but not the more frugal options (craigslist, clearance sales, etc.)

Months 3-6 each had a larger planned furniture expense in which we shopped around, looked for sales, or tried (unsuccessfully) to find a good option on craigslist. Rugs one month, dining room table the next, the piano we always promised we'd get when we had more space the following month. At the end of each month, we looked at our expenses to ensure that only our planned furniture purchases were elevating our credit card bill, and brought the rest of our spending back to our pre-move baseline.

The line between self-care and laziness can be blurry, but 10 months post-move, our spending is now below our pre-move baseline.

This issue is exacerbated by the fact that determining post move expenses is going to be really hard.  We lived in Japan before, but the yen/dollar ration was very different, and our situation was different.  So we really don't know what.  Returning to baseline spending won't really be an option, in the sense that they aren't comparable.  We may get back to that level, or even lower (as a % of income, since DH is paid slightly more due to his Cost Of Living Allowance).  But we could also end up significantly higher, with not a lot of great ways to bring that down. But I'm not super worried about that, truthfully.  If we are at 5% lower savings because that's the best we can do when we've reach our optimization comfort level, I'm perfectly fine with that.  It's just the waste today that I worry about.

We certainly aren't completely ignoring money in all ways, so there is some restraint, but far less than usual.  I don't like it, but I'm pretty stressed and I don't like adding more to my plate, either.  DH needs new dress clothes and buying them in Japan isn't really an option.  We checked a couple consignment stores.  No luck.  We checked a big sale at Macy's.  No luck. We hit Nordstrom's Rack and found two that work, and don't need a zillion dollars in tailoring, but they are more than we would have spent in different circumstances.  But it was hard to find something that fit, and we just wanted it checked off the list.  It's things like that.  I guess it goes against our usual mindset, so it bothers me. 

Classical_Liberal

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2016, 03:52:16 AM »
It reads more like you are just out of your routine vs lifestyle creep.  A year ago I took a job that required significant travel (it was nothing exotic like relocating to a different country, rather regional travel with lots of hotel living).  At first my expenses crept up and it worried me, I was losing a large percentage of the income increase that was my primary motivator for taking the job. Over time I found this happened for two main reasons. First, I hadn't learned an efficient way to live my new way of life. As i picked up on the lifestyle hacks my expenses reigned in quickly.  The second was time, or lack thereof.  I was out of my routine, things took longer and I outsourced activities I would have normally done myself.  As I developed a routine this improved as well.

It seems your attitude is right and I'd bet you'll be back to your old ways in short order, with a few new tricks up your frugality sleeve to boot.

Nickels Dimes Quarters

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2016, 05:25:09 AM »
I used to experience this, but then took a hard look at spending and life goals. Once I developed a plan for early retirement, the lifestyle fell into place.

What happens more now is I make changes that involve spending LESS, but my lifestyle actually IMPROVES. Go figure.

NDQ

little_brown_dog

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2016, 08:26:11 AM »
We battle lifestyle creep in 2 ways:

1 – Prioritize savings first. We assign a certain amount of income and funds to our financial goals every year and then make it happen, no excuses. If you are aggressive enough with your savings goals, you will naturally reign in your ability to spend frivolously because there just won’t be enough money left over. For example, we max a 401k and then assign a specific amount of income to go right to our efund, IRAs, and kid's college fund every month. We never see that money in our checking accounts, so it’s like it isn’t even there. This totally reduces the stress of having to "find" money in the budget to save. As we make more money with promotions, raises, etc, the savings goals always tick upwards to account for the increase in income.

2 – Focus on the big stuff. Lifestyle creep is most deadly with fixed expenses like your mortgage, cars, etc. If you can stay modest on those, then you are in a good place and can splurge a bit elsewhere. We try to optimize the fixed expenses and groceries, and then not worry much about the rest. So if we want to order takeout or get dinner once a week, who cares? If it isn’t harming your savings and the spending isn’t overboard, why not?  This is an actual “threshold” money management strategy, where instead of frugalizing every line item in the budget, people just set an aggressive savings goal and if they are hitting it, they get to play with the rest if they so choose. This method obviously only works if you are already saving aggressively and to your comfort level for your goals. We aren't racing to early retirement, so it works well for us.

elaine amj

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2016, 09:11:29 AM »
This is a really timely question for me.  We have some family and health issues to deal with and no time to "optimize".  I don't see this as lifestyle creep, though.  It's more about spending what's necessary for a short term situation, knowing that we can afford to because we're usually much more frugal.  This is the rainy day, or actually the rainy season.  But I do still feel a twinge so I get you.

We are in exactly the same place. It's pretty crazy how much we are spending right now. Some on convenience, and some on supplies/equipment. Like last week DH had no appetite to eat home cooking. I was getting burned out with trying to cook food he could eat. So he ate out a lot. I'm looking at this as a short-term thing because I know in our "normal" lives, we wouldn't spend like that. This week, he is eating entirely at home. I have a good Groupon offer for today for a local restaurant and he said not to buy it to save $$. I'm still tempted to get it for the next time he finds he needs to eat out.

mm1970

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2016, 12:49:17 PM »
For sure I am battling this right now.  I think it's because we are just BUSY.

I can manage some of it. 

Food:  Right now our food bill is creeping up.  Not because we are eating out, but because it's just *easier* to buy the same things every week, and to use a produce CSA that delivers, than it is to scour the sales and shop at 3 stores.  So, sticking to my old budget was getting really really hard in the first place.  Then add lack of time...

Entertainment: We don't go on dates much.  Not compared to many of my friends, who go out to fancy dinners, weekends away, and concerts.  That all adds up BUT the babysitting will kill you.  I have found that we are going on more dates now (6-8 per year, vs. only 1).  You know, date night is $50 in babysitting.  My friends are no longer interested in babysitting swaps.  We can keep the date night costs low aside from that by being smart.  We could do lunch dates, but our work days are pretty packed as it is.  We could skip dates, but having been married for almost 20 years with kids at 10 and 3...we need dates.  So yeah, this year, I'm letting date night lifestyle creep happen.  We're going on a date this week, and going to a concert in June.  I want to take the day off on our anniversary and do something fun, like go kayaking and have a leisurely lunch.

Travel: We also don't travel much because it's a pain with the kids.  But generally we fly to visit family every other year.  This year is not one of those years, but our niece is graduating from HS, and we decided to go.  And it's complicated, with 4 people there, 3 people back (leaving the 10 year old), and one fperson back out, and two people back.

Social: I get a lot of my social interaction on the weekends at our potlucks.  But honestly, there are people who are special to me that I don't get to see that often (former coworkers mostly).  I need to make a special effort to see them, and that generally involves lunch out.

Kids activities: my son recently started playing baseball. I've resisted much of the lifestyle creep (group trips to the Dodgers, buying a bunch of raffle tickets), but not others (opening day costs, taking our turn as the "snack parent", buying snacks at the game - a few bucks, getting a $1 snack at swim lessons once a week).

I guess it gets tiring saying "no no no no" all the time.

Wine: my taste in wine has gotten more expensive.  So I'm trying to drink less.

Clothing:  I did pretty well with the "no new clothes" in 2015, mostly just swim suits.  But this means that much of my summer clothing (shorts) are terribly ill fitting.  I found myself dreading the summer.  I finally sucked it up and bought 3 pairs of shorts and a pair of capris.  Yes, I could have scoured the thrift stores, but I hate shopping.

On the flip side, we've had a lot of free lunches at work lately due to interviews.  I got free lunch yesterday (with enough for dinner).  When I left, there was still a HUGE bowl of salad left, so I covered it and put it in the fridge.  Guess what's for lunch today?  And when I'm done, I'm washing out my bowl and filing it again for tomorrow.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2016, 01:25:44 PM by mm1970 »

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2016, 12:56:39 PM »
Yes and No.

Our goal as income increases is to slowly increase our savings rate and reduce our time till FIRE. This is a very important goal and we want our freedom sooner than later.

At the same time we want to enjoy the fruits of our labor now as well. We do not spend frivolously but have increased spending in areas that bring us happiness as income has gone up.  Some of the things we spend more money on are dining out more, more generous with gifts and charity, I replaced a beater car with an 8 year old luxury sports car, we plan on taking 2 vacations per year vs 1. I also have no problem outsourcing certain things that take up a lot of time but are relatively (to our new income) cheaper to have someone else do vs spending the time.

I guess it boils down to priorities.

From 2011 - 2014 our income went from $56k/yr to $71k/yr slowly. During that time we discovered FIRE optimized spending and for 2014 came in at $36k spending for a family of 2. For 2015 our income catapulted to $143k and our spending remained the same. This year we are loosening the purse strings as our income is projected to be ~$175-200k, by loosen the purse strings I mean we will likely spend ~$40-45k for the year.

As our income changes we will adjust spending accordingly. One thing we completely avoided doing is increasing recurring expenses. Our housing stayed the same, no new subscription services/memberships etc. We can go right back to spending $36k/yr at any point in time without feeling deprived. For us this is the best approach for now. In the future? Who knows.

Villanelle

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2016, 03:52:11 PM »
"The rainy season".  I like that.

Another increased expense that I didn't mention is getting together with various friends.  These are people I haven't seen much in the last 6 years while were were overseas, and won't likely see again for another 3 years while we are bakc overseas.  So it's like cramming 9 years of visits with friends into 6 months.  I'm trying to keep it cheap--having people over for game night or walking on the beach with friends, but sometimes there is a lunch before that beach walk.  That feels very right, and is probably $10 or less, but when I look at it from a larger perspective, I feel like I'm becoming someone who randomly goes out for lunch every 2 weeks, and that's not comfortable. 

Then there's the fact that delayed purchases, like replacing our 20 year old mattress that got bent in a move, have been put off until now, and they are all concentrated in this small window of time, because we are able to do them now.  (Different mattresses sizes in different countries, and we don't want a non-standard mattress because it would lead to difficulty finding cheap bedding in the future.)   

We are spending less in a few categories, like transportation. We can walk everywhere in this neighborhood and only own one small, fuel efficient car, and DH is often carpooling or biking to work. 

Our investment numbers are more or less the same, but the HELOC repayment has slowed a bit. If that were due to income cuts, I'd be perfectly fine with where the numbers are.  But it's hard feeling like a spendypants.   

norabird

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2016, 03:56:28 PM »
I'm not sure that spending under stress exactly qualifies as lifestyle creep. I know that even trying to be budget-conscious when I moved/set up my new apartment I kept on spending huge amounts. To an extent I think let up the pressure now and don't let worrying about buying a suit or any other situation-dependent expense; you don't need extra stress about what you're spending on top of the rest.

Bee21

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2016, 05:25:26 PM »
I think lifestyle creep can hurt you on the big ticket items. The larger house, because you need it. The newcar, cos you want it. Eating out. Hobbies. Hotels instead of camping.

The biggest creep for me was food and good quality clothes but it was easy to reign in once i identified the issue. Minimalism also helps.

The best thing i did in the past 6 years is putting the pay increases automatically into the retirement savings. I filled out the paperwork to increase contributions the same day i got the emails about the pay increase. I still have the same spending money as 6 years ago, i am used to it:)

meerkat

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2016, 06:41:49 AM »
I'm not sure that spending under stress exactly qualifies as lifestyle creep.

Until it becomes habit. We realized recently that we were eating lunch out all the time after I returned to work after having a baby, but there was no good reason why. We're back into a stable routine so now we go to the gym on lunch twice a week (which means there's no time to go out and we have to pack a lunch) and try to bring leftovers or just get a deli sub for the other days. ($7 for a 12" sub, I eat half one day with water and half the next day with water. Much healthier than eating out too!)

libertarian4321

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2016, 06:51:38 AM »
Nope.

We live a lifestyle only slightly above that of my working class (lower middle class) parents.  We look poorer than most of neighbors.

Even though we are both well paid, upper middle class professionals and are multi-millionaires.

I just don't feel the need to spend money on crap I don't need, even though I can easily do so.

I still drive an old "POS" truck, even though I can afford to pay cash for a fleet of Lamborghinis.  Because I'm pretty sure my 2002 Silverado will do a better job of picking up lumber at Home Depot than a Lambo Aventador.  Plus, I won't have to worry about some jerk "dinging" my car in the parking lot.  Go ahead, ding my POS Chevy.  I don't give a damn, you'll probably just knock some of the dirt/dust off of it.



There must be something wrong with me.

catccc

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2016, 08:37:29 AM »
I feel like our lifestyle is mostly the same over the last few years, but the cash outlay still grows- Same house, same cars, same school.  Same old laptop from 2010, same old furniture, barely any clothing purchases.  But spending has gone up anyway- rent increase (this January, first one since we moved in in 2011), older cars = car repairs, more than one kid in school or 5 days/wk of K tuition as opposed to 2 days/wk of Pre-K tuition.

The only "real" lifestyle creep I see in our numbers is vacations.  We spent almost $9K on travel last year.  That included a very expensive week in Turks and Caicos (just under $6K), Visiting family on the opposite coast (~$2K), Airfare for our 2016 Spring vacation to Disney and a small deposit for the Disney trip ($1K).  Vacation spend for 2016 is going to be much less, probably under $4K.  ($3K Disney balance, plus whatever else small we decide to do this year- camping at the beach or what not.)  We don't always do huge vacations, but we mix it up.  In 2014 we did a road trip to a national park a few hours away, rented a rustic cabin (no electricity, no running water), and hiked and enjoyed nature.  2016 was supposed be another low key year, but then I realized that there was a small window for Disney (intended to be the kids' one and only childhood visit) in terms of similar interests for our two kids and what school I was okay with them missing.  So we will take it easy for the rest of 2016 in vacation spending, and probably not do another big one until early 2018 at the soonest.

If you saw us, our house, our cars, and didn't know about our vacations, you'd probably assume we were just barely making it on our income. 

It's disappointing to see our annual spend climb.  At the same time, I don't feel like we are living it up and victim to lifestyle creep. (With the exception of our vacations, which I greatly value.  And like I said, are more up and down than on a steady increase.)  This is our last year of tuition for our youngest though.  The following year we plan on replacing our highest mileage car with money that has historically been used for tuition.  So hopefully we can bring our annual spend down in a few short years here.

chesebert

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #17 on: April 21, 2016, 11:56:02 AM »
We made a big move last year and saw our expenses - even outside of expenses directly related to the move - spike for about six months. I think the keys to bringing our spending back to our pre-move levels were to (1) know what our baseline spending looked like in each category of our budget so we knew exactly where and how we were inflating,(2) to give ourselves a limited window (two months in our case) in which convenience will be valued over frugality, and (3) push as many non-urgent purchases as possible outside of that 2-month free-for-all window to ensure you're actively working towards you baseline spending.

We took two months of no judgement spending on convenience (buying without exhaustive comparative research, lots of take-out dinners, paying folks to do work we would normally do ourselves or to expedite services) and then began to reign it back in. We got the necessary furniture (a bed, sofa, stools at the breakfast nook, and home office) up and running in those first couple months using reasonable options (Cost Plus World Market and Ikea) but not the more frugal options (craigslist, clearance sales, etc.)

Months 3-6 each had a larger planned furniture expense in which we shopped around, looked for sales, or tried (unsuccessfully) to find a good option on craigslist. Rugs one month, dining room table the next, the piano we always promised we'd get when we had more space the following month. At the end of each month, we looked at our expenses to ensure that only our planned furniture purchases were elevating our credit card bill, and brought the rest of our spending back to our pre-move baseline.

The line between self-care and laziness can be blurry, but 10 months post-move, our spending is now below our pre-move baseline.
Tell me about moving expenses! We just did an international move late last year and it's been 6 month and we are still in the recovery mode. The basic living expenses are down to our pre-move baseline, but the CapEx just keeps on going and going..... We need to replace multiple AC units in the new property, buy essential furniture and do some additional repair work. I think we will have elevated spending for another 4-6 months.

In other words, other than the new house and some furniture, we probably will not have much to show for our work this year.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2016, 11:58:34 AM by chesebert »

elaine amj

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2016, 12:37:49 PM »
The only "real" lifestyle creep I see in our numbers is vacations.  We spent almost $9K on travel last year.  That included a very expensive week in Turks and Caicos (just under $6K), Visiting family on the opposite coast (~$2K), Airfare for our 2016 Spring vacation to Disney and a small deposit for the Disney trip ($1K).  Vacation spend for 2016 is going to be much less, probably under $4K.  ($3K Disney balance, plus whatever else small we decide to do this year- camping at the beach or what not.)  We don't always do huge vacations, but we mix it up.  In 2014 we did a road trip to a national park a few hours away, rented a rustic cabin (no electricity, no running water), and hiked and enjoyed nature.  2016 was supposed be another low key year, but then I realized that there was a small window for Disney (intended to be the kids' one and only childhood visit) in terms of similar interests for our two kids and what school I was okay with them missing.  So we will take it easy for the rest of 2016 in vacation spending, and probably not do another big one until early 2018 at the soonest.

That's what we said on our first WDW trip (just a long weekend). We've been hooked ever since and return just about every year. It sure is an $$ habit!! (Although I have learned many ways to cut costs). Thank goodness we're also obsessed with camping....although here in Ontario, camping is NOT cheap ($40+ a night for a rustic site).

prognastat

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2016, 01:12:24 PM »
My best advise would be whenever you get a raise don't even let yourself get used to it. Instead if you haven't maxed out 401k yet raise that to where you still get the same deposited in your bank as before the raise. If you have that maxed see if you can deposit some of each month to max an HSA. If that is unavailable/undesirable instead see if you work allows you to deposit part of your paycheck somewhere other than your account, in that case put it towards IRA and if that is maxed out put it towards the next preferred account.

The biggest danger in my opinion not doing so immediately and adjusting to that money being available in your checking account. Also if having your emergency money in savings is not enough of a barrier to accessing it possibly move it to a savings account with a different bank/account than your checking account is with, just so you don't see it and are less tempted plus it takes just a few extra steps to take it out in to your checking account.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2016, 01:53:13 PM by prognastat »

catccc

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #20 on: April 21, 2016, 01:48:17 PM »
2016 was supposed be another low key year, but then I realized that there was a small window for Disney (intended to be the kids' one and only childhood visit) in terms of similar interests for our two kids and what school I was okay with them missing.

That's what we said on our first WDW trip (just a long weekend). We've been hooked ever since and return just about every year. It sure is an $$ habit!! (Although I have learned many ways to cut costs). Thank goodness we're also obsessed with camping....although here in Ontario, camping is NOT cheap ($40+ a night for a rustic site).

I can really see how that happens, a intended once-in-a-childhood trip turning into a regular thing.  It's a super fun place. We had a great time.  And really, it cost about 2/3rds of what Turks and Caicos cost (which we've done 2x now), and that was us kind of going "all out" on the trip- staying on site, buying and milking that dining plan (the QS dining plan turned out to be a stellar deal for us, averaging in the child cost and using credits exclusively for adult meals, and nearly always swapping out drinks/desserts allotted for other "real" food.), flying instead of driving.   But there are so many other things we want to do (national park camping in the west, Hawaii, and other things) that it's really likely we won't repeat WDW before the kids are grown.  I did admit to my husband that if the kids begged to go again it wouldn't take much to convince me.  But they like variety, too.  We also really like camping.  And it's always kind of surprising to me how much it costs.  For a little bit of ground at the state park, $45/night!

catccc

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #21 on: April 21, 2016, 01:57:02 PM »
My best advise would be whenever you get a raise don't even let yourself get used to it. Instead if you haven't maxed out 401k yet raise that to where you still get the same deposited in your bank as before the raise. If you have that maxed see if you can deposit some of each month to max an HSA. If that is unavailable/undesirable instead see if you work allows you to deposit part of your paycheck somewhere other than your account, in that case put it towards IRA and if that is maxed out put it towards the next preferred account.

The biggest danger in my opinion not doing so immediately and adjusting to that money being available in your checking account. Also if having it in your emergency money in savings is not enough of a barrier to accessing it possibly move it to a savings account with a different bank/account than your checking account is with, just so you don't see it and are less tempted plus it takes just a few extra steps to take it out in to your checking account.

I adjust my automatic savings every year, 401K has been maxed for years.  I bank my extra savings from each check to a savings account as the year goes on, then use those funds to max our IRAs first thing in January of the following year.  The problem is where the difference between the max and the total savings goes.  Sometimes we spend it on a pricey vacation, or put it into the kids 529.  I think I need to work on more regular investing to my taxable accounts. That stuff I will not take out and spend.  I treat it like retirement funds.  The cash savings is too flexible...

wenchsenior

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2016, 02:03:14 PM »
How about just picking one category that gives you a lot of bang for the buck in terms of lifestyle satisfaction, and allow the creep there, but nowhere else? That's more or less what we've done. We have spent more or less the same now for close to 10 years on discretionary spending, despite an increase in net income of about 30K. Most of the increase has gone to savings or debt (back when we had some). Now, we funnel some of it into travel.

prognastat

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2016, 02:05:09 PM »
My best advise would be whenever you get a raise don't even let yourself get used to it. Instead if you haven't maxed out 401k yet raise that to where you still get the same deposited in your bank as before the raise. If you have that maxed see if you can deposit some of each month to max an HSA. If that is unavailable/undesirable instead see if you work allows you to deposit part of your paycheck somewhere other than your account, in that case put it towards IRA and if that is maxed out put it towards the next preferred account.

The biggest danger in my opinion not doing so immediately and adjusting to that money being available in your checking account. Also if having it in your emergency money in savings is not enough of a barrier to accessing it possibly move it to a savings account with a different bank/account than your checking account is with, just so you don't see it and are less tempted plus it takes just a few extra steps to take it out in to your checking account.

I adjust my automatic savings every year, 401K has been maxed for years.  I bank my extra savings from each check to a savings account as the year goes on, then use those funds to max our IRAs first thing in January of the following year.  The problem is where the difference between the max and the total savings goes.  Sometimes we spend it on a pricey vacation, or put it into the kids 529.  I think I need to work on more regular investing to my taxable accounts. That stuff I will not take out and spend.  I treat it like retirement funds.  The cash savings is too flexible...

That's a tough one yeah. It would try to find the balance between ease of access for emergency and ease of access for non emergency. One way might be to put it in something less accessible where it might take a few weeks to take out and instead using credit card for emergency and pay it off by requesting a withdrawal immediately and paying it off before any fees are incurred. This would only work if then you wouldn't just use the CCs and take money out, but if you don't like CC debt it might be an effective deterrent from taking it out for non-emergency use.

Villanelle

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #24 on: April 21, 2016, 02:09:38 PM »
My best advise would be whenever you get a raise don't even let yourself get used to it. Instead if you haven't maxed out 401k yet raise that to where you still get the same deposited in your bank as before the raise. If you have that maxed see if you can deposit some of each month to max an HSA. If that is unavailable/undesirable instead see if you work allows you to deposit part of your paycheck somewhere other than your account, in that case put it towards IRA and if that is maxed out put it towards the next preferred account.

The biggest danger in my opinion not doing so immediately and adjusting to that money being available in your checking account. Also if having your emergency money in savings is not enough of a barrier to accessing it possibly move it to a savings account with a different bank/account than your checking account is with, just so you don't see it and are less tempted plus it takes just a few extra steps to take it out in to your checking account.

No 401k, no HSA.  But I think we've got the savings and investing stuff down, and that hasn't slipped.  Right now, it's just the temptation to spend for ease.  Another example.  We can have 10 suitcases (free of charge) for the move, and given all the stuff we have to carry with us, we kind of need (want?) to max that out.  We've done this before, and last time, I spent weeks scouring thrift stores for a combination of the cheapest/largest pieces of luggage I could find.  I don't think I spent more than $5 on any of them.  We don't have access to those (they are in a crate that was packed in Germany and is waiting to ship to Japan), so we are short 2 suitcases.  I am so, so tempted just to take the car on one of the days I have it, hit up Tuesday Morning, and buy a couple suitcases for probably $19.99 each.  So much easier, so much less time, so much less stress over needing to arrange things so I can have the car for eleventy thrift store excursion, and something I can check off the list NOW.  But probably $30+ dollars more. 

We are not budgeters in the traditional sense.  We evaluate each purchase on its merits.  I actually feel this keeps spending down and keeps us more accountable. So it's not like I can say exactly where this extra money is coming from.  In reality, every couple of months I scrape off the extra in the checking account and dump it toward our HELOC (used to pay off our traditional mortgage).  So I suppose the extra money is coming from there.  Investments are still maxed, savings are still sufficient.  But I'm out $30 in figurative suitcase money (and $12 for the take out Mexican we had for dinner last week, and...) toward our overall Stache.  It's making me crazy.  Perhaps I need to unclench a little and only worry if this continues once the dust on the move settles, but it's hard to do things that, in other circumstances, I'd consider blatantly wasteful. 

prognastat

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #25 on: April 21, 2016, 02:45:06 PM »
My best advise would be whenever you get a raise don't even let yourself get used to it. Instead if you haven't maxed out 401k yet raise that to where you still get the same deposited in your bank as before the raise. If you have that maxed see if you can deposit some of each month to max an HSA. If that is unavailable/undesirable instead see if you work allows you to deposit part of your paycheck somewhere other than your account, in that case put it towards IRA and if that is maxed out put it towards the next preferred account.

The biggest danger in my opinion not doing so immediately and adjusting to that money being available in your checking account. Also if having your emergency money in savings is not enough of a barrier to accessing it possibly move it to a savings account with a different bank/account than your checking account is with, just so you don't see it and are less tempted plus it takes just a few extra steps to take it out in to your checking account.

No 401k, no HSA.  But I think we've got the savings and investing stuff down, and that hasn't slipped.  Right now, it's just the temptation to spend for ease.  Another example.  We can have 10 suitcases (free of charge) for the move, and given all the stuff we have to carry with us, we kind of need (want?) to max that out.  We've done this before, and last time, I spent weeks scouring thrift stores for a combination of the cheapest/largest pieces of luggage I could find.  I don't think I spent more than $5 on any of them.  We don't have access to those (they are in a crate that was packed in Germany and is waiting to ship to Japan), so we are short 2 suitcases.  I am so, so tempted just to take the car on one of the days I have it, hit up Tuesday Morning, and buy a couple suitcases for probably $19.99 each.  So much easier, so much less time, so much less stress over needing to arrange things so I can have the car for eleventy thrift store excursion, and something I can check off the list NOW.  But probably $30+ dollars more. 

We are not budgeters in the traditional sense.  We evaluate each purchase on its merits.  I actually feel this keeps spending down and keeps us more accountable. So it's not like I can say exactly where this extra money is coming from.  In reality, every couple of months I scrape off the extra in the checking account and dump it toward our HELOC (used to pay off our traditional mortgage).  So I suppose the extra money is coming from there.  Investments are still maxed, savings are still sufficient.  But I'm out $30 in figurative suitcase money (and $12 for the take out Mexican we had for dinner last week, and...) toward our overall Stache.  It's making me crazy.  Perhaps I need to unclench a little and only worry if this continues once the dust on the move settles, but it's hard to do things that, in other circumstances, I'd consider blatantly wasteful. 

A middle ground may be something like craigslist, instead of having to go to stores and find a deal find an affordable used one online you can go pick up.

Also I wouldn't worry as much about one-time expenses related to a move as I would for recurring expenses, still don't overpay but getting the absolute best deal when it is a one time savings of maybe 10-20 dollars at the cost of a lot of time and stress spent on it is worth a lot less than a 10-20 dollar savings recurring every month.

elaine amj

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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #26 on: April 21, 2016, 04:45:22 PM »

I can really see how that happens, a intended once-in-a-childhood trip turning into a regular thing.  It's a super fun place. We had a great time.  And really, it cost about 2/3rds of what Turks and Caicos cost (which we've done 2x now), and that was us kind of going "all out" on the trip- staying on site, buying and milking that dining plan (the QS dining plan turned out to be a stellar deal for us, averaging in the child cost and using credits exclusively for adult meals, and nearly always swapping out drinks/desserts allotted for other "real" food.), flying instead of driving.   But there are so many other things we want to do (national park camping in the west, Hawaii, and other things) that it's really likely we won't repeat WDW before the kids are grown.  I did admit to my husband that if the kids begged to go again it wouldn't take much to convince me.  But they like variety, too.  We also really like camping.  And it's always kind of surprising to me how much it costs.  For a little bit of ground at the state park, $45/night!

Haha...WDW makes it too easy to have fun. It ties with camping for us as a fave destination. And really, it's rather reasonable in price if u take advantage of discounts, etc like u did. For me, it costs about $3k or so for our family of 4 to go so it is not bad compared to many other vacations.

It's definitely a lifestyle creep though since a camping/cottage vacation only costs about $1k or so. It would be hard for me to give up my WDW trips now though.


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Re: Do you battle lifestyle creep?
« Reply #27 on: April 21, 2016, 05:30:59 PM »
No.  We live the same way before that we do now.  No income coming in and same budget.  Haven't really cut anything.  And we didn't really change after we went from grad students to working stiffs.  Just bought a more expensive house but that wasn't hard since we moved from a 1 bd condo to a 3 bd condo.  We've never lived large, I say that but really living large is just having freedom to do as we pleased.  Turns out we did.  And we're not mustachian by a long shot, we eat out, use preschool and I stay at home, drive a new car.