Author Topic: Sources of lifestye inflation  (Read 9751 times)

Ian

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 363
  • Location: South Korea
Sources of lifestye inflation
« on: November 11, 2013, 05:15:13 AM »
Not asking for myself, but for a game (pretty sure that's a first on this forum). I'm helping to design a game related to money management and I think lifestyle inflation would make a central mechanic more interesting.

Without going into too much detail, the idea is that players undergo a challenge to get a promotion at work. The trick is that each promotion causes lifestyle inflation (new optional challenges representing specific things). I want to balance the system so that unless you tackle the individual expense challenges, your expenses always rise with income. I think that's a pretty accurate representation of reality.

My problem is getting the new expenses right, especially at higher levels. Your character starts out at grunt level, $10/hour with debt, so I started with the basic expenses of someone who doesn't give money much thought. To be realistic, I know various expenses should increase, but that's way more detail than would be fun for the game, so I tried to give each upgrade a basic theme:

Promotion Level 1: Rent, Utilities, Food, Phone, Health Insurance, Gas, Car Insurance, Debts
Promotion Level 2: (no lifestyle inflation, since this promotion just lets you break even)
Promotion Level 3: Social Drinking, Lattes, Gym Membership, Vacations, Hobbies
Promotion Level 4: Mortgage, Wine
Promotion Level 5: Fancy Clothes, Housekeeping

Maybe levels 1-4 don't make perfect sense (there should probably be a clothing or household item in there) but in game terms they balance perfectly. But for level 5, I don't have enough ideas for discrete new expenses (tech gadgets, maybe?). That's where I'd like some ideas.

I'm also open to objections about the former levels. This will likely be stuff that no one is really analyzing in depth, but it doesn't hurt to be more representative.

Sparafusile

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 333
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Indiana, USA
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2013, 06:21:54 AM »
Sports car, cosmetic surgery, private schools, etc. You actually don't mention children at all, that might be a good possibly random event.

senecando

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 486
  • Age: 29
  • Location: Madison, Wi
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2013, 08:46:55 AM »
Timeshares, second houses, cruises. New promotions = more stress = you deserve fancier vacations.

rufflina

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 40
  • Location: San Jose, CA
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2013, 09:10:32 AM »
Spa visits, massages

Pistacheo

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 23
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2013, 10:28:52 AM »
House remodels, appliance upgrades, landscaping upgrades, water features, third car, club memberships, weekend getaways, RVs, storage unit fees.

StarryC

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 283
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2013, 10:59:15 AM »
Somewhere in there: More expensive food (pre-cut fruit and vegetables, prepared side dishes instead of cooking yourself, organic, grass fed, free range, farmers market), getting the name brands instead of generic/ bulk.

Paying people for car & house repairs/ maintenance (Car wash, oil changes, painters, handy man, gardener, plumber, electrician, maybe interior decorator)

Probably before level 5, but could be: Higher healthcare spending- dental work, orthodontics, Lasik, cosmetic dermatology, Teeth whitening, getting those tests that are expensive and get put off. 

For level 5: A boat/Jet Ski/ 4 wheelers/ snowmobile; a pool; Even more expensive food (dinners at $50 a plate restaurants, lunches at $12 places), Other "servants" other than housekeeping- personal trainer, personal chef, nanny, accountant.  Definitely higher child related expenses: Riding lessons, music lessons, camps, tutors, college admissions advisors, club sports,  SAT prep.

TrulyStashin

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1030
  • Location: Mid-Sized Southern City
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2013, 12:25:24 PM »
Spa visits, massages

+1

Add this at level 3, and also include:  manicure/ pedicure; expensive hair treatments (color, highlights); expensive makeup

Some people spend a stunning amount of money each month on elaborate grooming.  I recently met up with a good friend of mine at her salon as she was wrapping up a 3-hour appointment.  Her tab came to $320. without tip.

This is the same friend who often tells me how worried she is over money because child support ends in June.  I've been hearing her say this for almost three years now.  Sigh.

The Taminator

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 132
  • Location: Toronto, Canada
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2013, 12:34:24 PM »
Pets and all of their related expenses: vet visits, grooming, food, and the doggy spa.

Sounds like a fun game btw.

gooki

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2376
  • Location: NZ
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2013, 01:11:29 PM »
New cars, boats, eating out every night, cable tv, expensive clothes, big house, regular cell phone upgrades.

Basically anything where the excuse is "because I deserve it".

2527

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 485
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2013, 02:56:29 PM »
Ordering Chinese, laundry service, international travel.

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6644
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2013, 05:52:54 PM »
Children

Ian

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 363
  • Location: South Korea
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2013, 06:18:57 PM »
Thanks to everyone who gave ideas, even if I don't mention you specifically. There are so many I'm wondering if I should reconsider a few things - I'll be back with a revised list. Meanwhile, the idea is for characters to start as lower middle class (with plenty of debt, but that's another issue). I based the pay levels on averages for mediocre jobs in America, so here they are:
PLvl 1: 20k/year (1700/month)
PLvl 2: 24k/year (2000/month)
PLvl 3: 29k/year (2400/month)
PLvl 4: 42k/year (3500/month)
PLvl 5: 58k/year (4200/month)

I actually wanted to start at minimum wage, but even the $10/hour wage at PLvl1 creates a huge deficit. The first two promotions seem low, but that's what the data says for non-STEM fields in areas with average cost of living. PLvl4 represents moving to management and gets us to the median income. I'd intended for PLvl 5 to be the max (what the main character does is ambiguous, but it's not a great job). All the ideas here tempt me to add a PLvl6.

I plan to include representations for side jobs but not retraining for a major career change. Not because I want to dismiss that path, but because I think your average player finds that idea too daunting.

Quote from: Sparafusile
You actually don't mention children at all, that might be a good possibly random event.
I'm reluctant to include children because it's a touchy topic and might come off as moralistic. It's one thing to tell people to lay off lattes, it's another to take money from them for having children. You can get married, with weddings of various expense levels and potentially very expensive spouses, but children would add a whole new layer of design complexity.

Quote from: The Taminator
Sounds like a fun game btw.

Thanks. I hope to capture some of what makes financial planning fun, but in a format where you don't have weeks of real life in between increments. It's still in the planning and resource building stage.

Mega

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 176
  • Location: Burlington, Ontario
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2013, 07:33:58 AM »
You need to provide incentives for lifestyle inflation.

E.g. Perhaps some sort of work - entertainment life balance, increased income due to looking "successful" (which of course don't cover the cost of your image)

Alternatively, you could have scores that make people want to keep inflating their lifestyle. (E.g. An as compared to the Joneses you have a cooler car)

Why have an upper limit on income? Let people work overtime / take on a second job.

I don't think you should start people with debt. Let them bury themselves.

(Essentially re-make the Game of Life, but let people choose how the doom themselves)

Osprey

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 134
    • Osprey's Lab
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2013, 09:17:02 AM »
Sounds like a fun game! (that I would - er - buy...)
There are already some great suggestions for lifestyle inflation. What hurts my own wallet though is not adding new items (e.g. jetski) but rather having the initial items get more expensive over time. For example, as you get older it becomes less acceptable to have box wine and video games as entertainment, as opposed to dinner and a show. So now you must compromise on the $ or the friendships.
Maybe you could work friends/family into the game?

Ian

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 363
  • Location: South Korea
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2013, 04:55:43 PM »
Rebalanced the top promotions; mortgages and other major purchases are now separate choices. New ideas don't hurt, but I'm reasonably happy with this list.

Promotion Level 3: Social Drinking, Lattes, Gym Membership, Gadgets, Entertainment
Promotion Level 4: Vacations, Fancy Clothes, Wine
Promotion Level 5: Housekeeping, Landscaping, Cruises, Massages, Club Memberships
Flexible: Mortgage, New Cars, Yachts

(Essentially re-make the Game of Life, but let people choose how the doom themselves)
Thanks for such an extensive response, but we're not entirely on the same page here. While remaking the Game of Life could be a worthwhile goal, it is not my goal. If that's what everyone here was interested in, sorry.

The game begins with the player character several years after graduation, stuck in a dead end job with mounting credit card debt. Broken down and on the verge of depression, he* falls asleep in front of the television. In his dream, he reimagines his life in a fantasy framework to try to regain control. The Credit Card Armies have taken over most of his kingdom, conquering places like Free Time Mountain and letting darker forces (the Knights of Stress, Disillusionment, and Discontent) attack Castle Sanity. Terms not final, but you get the idea.

*I wanted to let players choose gender and some other things, but this would multiply the amount of work this will take and reduce the amount of content possible.

I don't want this to take itself terribly seriously, or be edutainment - it's a game, not repackaged financial advice. But if you want to play well, you'll end up following strategies that work in real life. If players intuit those lessons that's fine, but ideally this won't feel intrusive. Ultimately the goal is to take on more abstract enemies of unhappiness, and there are multiple valid paths to get there. Hence it's important that you start with baggage, because with a clean slate, players would feel like the game just represented life on easy mode.

For me (and this forum, I'd expect) the fun will be more about doing this efficiently: maximizing income, minimizing expenses, investing, etc. Early retirement will be optional post-game content, ie challenges more difficult than the final dungeon/boss. My hope is that different kinds of people could get different kinds of fun out of the game.

You need to provide incentives for lifestyle inflation.

E.g. Perhaps some sort of work - entertainment life balance, increased income due to looking "successful" (which of course don't cover the cost of your image)

Alternatively, you could have scores that make people want to keep inflating their lifestyle. (E.g. An as compared to the Joneses you have a cooler car)

Why have an upper limit on income? Let people work overtime / take on a second job.
I want to include a mechanic for work-life balance and stress, but I haven't figured out how it's going to work in yet. I agree it's important to include.

As of levels 3-5 the player is salaried, so overtime isn't possible. There's already some content for second jobs and other work on the side - since that's a more ambitious path, it doesn't come with lifestyle inflation by default. I worry the current promotions will already feel unrealistically optimistic to most people given the starting position, but ultimately, the upper limit exists because there's a limit to how much new content I'm going to create.

Quote from: Osprey
Sounds like a fun game! (that I would - er - buy...)
There are already some great suggestions for lifestyle inflation. What hurts my own wallet though is not adding new items (e.g. jetski) but rather having the initial items get more expensive over time. For example, as you get older it becomes less acceptable to have box wine and video games as entertainment, as opposed to dinner and a show. So now you must compromise on the $ or the friendships.
Maybe you could work friends/family into the game?
I agree, I just worry that constantly rising general expenses wouldn't be much fun as a game mechanic. The money vs friendships idea is an interesting one and I'll have to think about how to model it.

For family and friends, do you mean social aspects as in Farmville and other such games? That's not part of the plan right now, sorry. If you mean the character having family and friends, yeah, that's a major aspect.

dragoncar

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8617
  • Registered member
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2013, 05:12:31 PM »
Ha!  This reminds me of Jones in the Fast Lane, which kinda failed on this topic.  In that game, you could work your way up the corporate ladder and simultaneously choose to live in a hovel with no furniture.  In fact, it was more effort to move than to stay and save up your money while working crazy shifts.  Then once you reached your other goals, you could just relax for days on end to meet your happiness goal.  Now that I think about it, that's pretty close to MMM ER.  I'm gonna go see if that game is available as abandonware.

Ian

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 363
  • Location: South Korea
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2013, 06:45:04 PM »
Quote from: dragoncar
Ha!  This reminds me of Jones in the Fast Lane, which kinda failed on this topic.  In that game, you could work your way up the corporate ladder and simultaneously choose to live in a hovel with no furniture.  In fact, it was more effort to move than to stay and save up your money while working crazy shifts.  Then once you reached your other goals, you could just relax for days on end to meet your happiness goal.  Now that I think about it, that's pretty close to MMM ER.  I'm gonna go see if that game is available as abandonware.
I'm sure you can find it on abandonware sites, but I discovered a flash version, for anyone interested:
http://home.broadpark.no/~kboye/jones/jones.html

Suggestions for games similar to mine are welcome, by the way.

Eric

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4061
  • Location: On my bike
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2013, 08:48:38 PM »
The Credit Card Armies have taken over most of his kingdom, conquering places like Free Time Mountain and letting darker forces (the Knights of Stress, Disillusionment, and Discontent) attack Castle Sanity. Terms not final, but you get the idea.

Ha!  I love it!

dragoncar

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8617
  • Registered member
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2013, 11:39:22 PM »
Quote from: dragoncar
Ha!  This reminds me of Jones in the Fast Lane, which kinda failed on this topic.  In that game, you could work your way up the corporate ladder and simultaneously choose to live in a hovel with no furniture.  In fact, it was more effort to move than to stay and save up your money while working crazy shifts.  Then once you reached your other goals, you could just relax for days on end to meet your happiness goal.  Now that I think about it, that's pretty close to MMM ER.  I'm gonna go see if that game is available as abandonware.
I'm sure you can find it on abandonware sites, but I discovered a flash version, for anyone interested:
http://home.broadpark.no/~kboye/jones/jones.html

Suggestions for games similar to mine are welcome, by the way.

There goes my evening

NestEggChick (formerly PFgal)

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 238
  • Location: Boston-ish, MA
    • Nest Egg Chick
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2013, 08:28:40 AM »
At level 1 or 2, travel to visit friends and sleep on their couches.
At level 5, travel to various places around the world and stay in expensive hotels.

Good luck!

Ian

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 363
  • Location: South Korea
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #20 on: November 15, 2013, 12:05:44 AM »
This has been helpful, everyone, so much so that I'll ask your input on another aspect. In the game, instead of using typical equipment like swords and armor, you use cognitive things. You have five equipment slots: Goal, Virtue, Book, Hobby, and Accessory. I'd like input on two things:
1) I like my first three slots, but I'm sure I could think of better ideas for the last two. What categories of things assist someone on a personal level?
2) I need goal suggestions - relatively abstract ones. For example, your starting goal is "Survive Today" which is pretty weak. Mid-game you might equip goals like "Escape Debt" and late-game you equip the things like "Financial Independence" or "Attain Enlightenment." But I need at least 20+ ideas to populate the game and I'm not coming up with them.

More info on the equipment for anyone interested:
Goal - your primary way of dealing damage to the doubts and difficulties of life, upgrades
Virtue - all are about equal, so you equip different ones for different situations
Book - equipping them long enough teaches new skills, so you read one and then equip another
Hobby - somewhat duplicating Books, maybe these encourage longer time investments
Accessory - the catch-all for other frugality-related situational equipment, Bikes and such

Pistacheo

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 23
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #21 on: November 15, 2013, 04:41:05 AM »
1. How about something that touches on the benefit of being part of a community. Depending on what you preferred to emphasize, it could be Community (advantages gained  through social and material support to reach goals), Social Connectedness (advantages gained by experiencing value and well being in non-material aspects of life), Social Capitol (advantages gained by your standing in the community or by your relationships with those in privileged positions), etc.

2. "Improve health" -  allows player to eventually reduce medical spending, do expensive tasks such as home remodel or weekly housecleaning without needing to hire out.

"Satisfice" -  allows player to resist lifestyle inflation pitfalls, avoid continual upgrading of items player already has.

Eric

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4061
  • Location: On my bike
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #22 on: November 15, 2013, 04:26:27 PM »
2) I need goal suggestions - relatively abstract ones. For example, your starting goal is "Survive Today" which is pretty weak. Mid-game you might equip goals like "Escape Debt" and late-game you equip the things like "Financial Independence" or "Attain Enlightenment." But I need at least 20+ ideas to populate the game and I'm not coming up with them.

Just off the top of my head, probably not in order

Open a savings acct
Emergency fund
House downpayment
Kids college fund
Contribute to 401k
Open brokerage acct

Plus, "Escape Debt" is too broad.  I'd break it down into something like
Pay off payday loans
Pay back parents
Pay off CCs
Pay off Student Loans
Pay off Mortgage





Ian

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 363
  • Location: South Korea
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #23 on: November 17, 2013, 03:19:08 AM »
Some good ideas here, thanks.

Quote from: Pistacheo
1. How about something that touches on the benefit of being part of a community. Depending on what you preferred to emphasize, it could be Community (advantages gained  through social and material support to reach goals), Social Connectedness (advantages gained by experiencing value and well being in non-material aspects of life), Social Capitol (advantages gained by your standing in the community or by your relationships with those in privileged positions), etc.
That's a very good idea. Some of the community aspects are represented by your party (roommates, spouses, etc) who can fight with you, but this is significant enough it might be worth a slot. I'm trying to think of abstract categories of the communities that support (or hinder) people. You should probably start with Isolation (no community), other equips could include Work Friends or College Buddies. This could work.

Ideas for these categories (goals, communities) are welcome, or any ideas at all. Otherwise, I think I'll let this project keep working in my subconscious and build resources until I'm ready to move forward.

CommonCents

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2386
Re: Sources of lifestye inflation
« Reply #24 on: November 18, 2013, 03:30:21 PM »
Re lifestyle inflation encouragement:
  • Need new clothes for better job you just got/are trying to get.  Pay X for nice, or Y for really nice and stylish clothes.  Or Z, lose time to search thrift shops.
  • Can pay for [sports tickets/golf t times] to get more clients.  It's X for just the tickets, but Y for season tickets or golf membership.  Will increase happiness quotient by a certain amount and increase "Status"