My TV was sitting on my mantle and I also had an old school TV stand meant for a box TV rather than a flat screen.
So, this past weekend I headed to Walmart to see what they had. I wasn’t too impressed by the three choices they gave me, but I decided that their $140 particle board TV stand was better than what I had. I seriously contemplated purchasing it until I walked near the whopping 4 checkouts that they had open which had amassed lines of at least 20 shoppers per check out. Screw it. I wasn’t going to wait in line for an hour to buy something I didn’t love and didn’t really need.
The next day, bored, I went down to a Mom and Pop store to see what they had. There it was – a long dresser painted black with cherry drawers. It was real wood and fit my rustic style perfectly. And, the price tag? Only $95! I didn’t hesitate, that dresser would be my new TV stand!
I brought home the dresser. It looked beautiful, but the rest of my furniture looked oddly out of place. I decided I’d stain my tables black to match the new TV stand. But what about the pictures hanging on the wall? They don’t match. I’d just buy new picture frames to hang.
Now that old, over used chair with the springs hanging out really looks out of place. New chair?
You can see where this is going.
I bought a TV stand that I didn’t really need and since it was nicer than every other thing I had in my house the need to buy new things spread.
My weekend turned into a mini shopping spree that amounted to a few hundred dollars. In reality this could have been much worse. I am lucky that I am a tightwad at heart and have some awesome bargain shopping skills.
Moral of the story? Lifestyle inflation spreads like wildfire.
Evaluate Your Situation
Should you never redo rooms in your home just to save money? Absolutely not. Money is meant to be saved and spent, it just needs to be done in a responsible manner.
Take me for example. I just switched to self-employment about a month ago. While I do have a decent sized emergency fund and self-employment is going pretty good so far, now is not the time for me to go on mini spending sprees.
I should have thought about my situation a little bit more but I let the living room mini makeover take over my thought process. Once I had one nice thing I wanted everything else to match.
What I should have done was started a savings account to specifically redo the living room instead of spending money that would have been better utilized going toward one of my other goals.
Your situation could be totally different. If you have a stable job, a nice savings account, and other financial plans in place then there’d probably be no problem with allowing yourself money to spend on the things you want rather than need.
However, if you’re in debt, working an unstable job, or working toward a big financial goal letting the lifestyle inflation creep in is a bad idea.
Just Say No
Self-discipline breeds self-discipline just like impulse spending breeds more impulse spending. So, the best way to avoid lifestyle inflation? Just say no.
Now that I’ve satisfied my spending cravings and used money I shouldn’t have, I will definitely be keeping the “Just Say No” tactic in mind.
Most of my goals mean so much more to me than having a nice living room does. One of my new goals I am working at is saving money for an investment property. It’s constantly on my mind and unfortunately the money I just spent could have went toward my new goal.
Had I said no to buying a new TV stand I wouldn’t have felt the need to upgrade everything else in my living room. Lifestyle inflation kind of creeps on you like that though. You improve one area and suddenly everything else doesn’t seem quite up to par.
Know the Time and Place
Your life is meant to be enjoyed so to say you should never spend money on things you want is just plain silly. There should be a healthy balance of having fun now and saving for the future.
We’re all human. We all slip up now and again. If you find yourself occasionally caving in to a bit of lifestyle inflation there’s no need to beat yourself up. Just brush yourself off and go back to your prior financial plans.
What are your thoughts on lifestyle inflation?
Alexa Mason is a freelance writer and wanna be internet entrepreneur. She is also a newly single mom to two beautiful little girls. She chronicles her journey as a single mom trying to make it big at www.singlemomsincome.com.