Part 1 – Rejecting Lifestyle Inflation
College life is a simple life. Living in a single small room with a roommate. Biking to class. Getting books from the library. Cutting costs wherever you can to save up for beer money (which never amounted to much since there were no good paying jobs available). Sounds rough, right?
Except that it wasn’t rough. It was a great time. Every day was a day spent with friends. The simple things like a free concert, a sunny afternoon playing ultimate Frisbee, and a cheap keg of Bud Light were all you needed for a perfect day.
Then you graduated and decided you needed new clothes, a nice car, and a loan for a house because that’s what people do. You bought an iPad to go with your Macbook and iPhone because mobility is key. You got a gym membership to stay healthy, and you always schedule some nights out at a good restaurants to stay social.
This is called lifestyle inflation. It starts when you graduate and get your first good job, and it continues when you get your first raise. Eventually you get promoted so you decide you should move out to a nicer neighborhood farther from work, but that’s OK because now you have a pool and 3189 square feet of space for all your stuff.
But now you don’t have enough stuff, so you have to go to pottery barn and get more stuff.
You get where I’m going with this?
But the thing is, this is all avoidable. These are all choices you get to make for yourself. Just remember principle #1: question everything.
If you’ve already succumbed to lifestyle inflation: that’s OK. I did too. It’s not a life sentence to working a job you hate for things you don’t want. The entire description above was me, literally (including the 3189 sq ft house with pool in a fancy neighborhood). But then I found a way out. I created my own lifestyle deflation. I downsized my house, moved close to work, sold my car, got rid of the money-sucking pool, and much more. And life got better. Way better. Now that I’ve seen the inflated life and the simple life, I know that there’s no going back.
Part 2 – Sometimes it’s not easy
This is more of a warning than anything else. Sometimes rejecting lifestyle inflation is hard. Sometimes it’s not fun to stand out as the guy who ride’s his bike to work, doesn’t go out to eat for lunch regularly, and lives in a small house near work rather than in the nicer neighborhoods 15 miles north.
And if it were all about frugality and rejecting lifestyle inflation, it would be nearly impossible to do this – and definitely not worth it.
This is when you have to remember that the core principles are ingredients in a recipe for what I like to call the brave new life. They will complement each other and support each other, and when placed together they will make a wonderful dish.
Rejecting one of the core principles puts the dish at risk. Taking one principle and saying “this one is too hard,” or “this one’s not for me” is like baking a cake and saying “sugar is bad for me, so I’m not going to use it in my cake.” That would not be a very good cake!
The Blank Slate
The blank slate is beginning to fill in. It still has a long way to go over the next 6 core principles, but we will watch the slate be filled in with principles and goals that support each other harmoniously. (click to enlarge)