This is such a timely post, considering we did just this last weekend. I have a love affair with real estate and, once again, allowed myself to consider the possibility of trading UP. After an entire day was spent driving by houses in our target market and running numbers, we started to feel that all too familiar anxiety of the cost associated with lifestyle inflation. You know that feeling, right? It starts out in your gut and never really goes away. It’s worry that is born out of fear, fear that you can’t comfortably afford to do something. Sometimes the worry is unwarranted; most of the time, it’s not.
How We Resisted The Urge To Trade Up
It was fairly easy to resist the temporary insane urge to sell our home and buy a bigger one, considering what we went through last year when we nearly got ourselves into a big financial mess. Even though we were considering more reasonably-priced homes this time, it was still ballooning into a hefty increase in monthly expenses for a VERY LONG time. Ultimately, remembering the events of 2015 that actually led to the creation of this blog, and keeping our financial goals in mind, we nixed the idea in record time. Less than 8 hours, to be exact!
Single Mom Complex
I was a single mom for quite a few years before meeting Mr. MMM. Even though I had (and still have) a great, high-paying job, I had to keep our expenses low if I wanted to give us a home, myself a retirement account, and my daughter a college fund. When she was really young (she’s 6-years old now) I made sure she saw New York City, Washington D.C., Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and the beach. I didn’t do this because I thought she would remember-I knew she wouldn’t. I did it to expose her to different environments and stimuli, in the hopes that it would benefit her developing brain-yes, I’m a scientist 🙂 All of those excursions occurred as day trips because I couldn’t afford to pay for our home, subsidize my mother’s living expenses (that’s another post), contribute to retirement accounts and college funds, AND take REAL vacations. Simply put, I couldn’t afford to give her the childhood I wanted to give her based on my single, albeit high, income. I did the best I could for all of us.
Now that I’m married, I have a second income (even though it’s variable and unpredictable) in my arsenal! This is a luxury that is not taken for granted. After having lived on a single income for so long, the idea that we can actually afford more is tempting, at times. All too often I think I’m doing my daughter a disservice if I keep her in our smaller home. How will she feel in her 10 x 11′ bedroom when she’s a teenager? I feel guilt. It’s unwarranted guilt, but, guilt nonetheless. Reminding myself that the guilt I feel is not warranted and not a good reason to be
stupid irresponsible with money. I also need to remind myself that providing my daughter with a stable, loving, easily-affordable lifestyle is BETTER than providing a BIG house.
Minimalism and Wealth Contracts
Committing to minimalism has given us focus and the ability to say NO to unecessary clutter in our lives. But it’s still difficult to resist everything. For me, real estate is much more than a place to live. Growing up in the original tiny house made me feel inferior compared to my classmates. Because of this, the urge to trade UP, not only proves my worth, but provides something for my daughter that my parents could not give me. These are emotional issues that I need to actively monitor and keep in check. My emotional, arbitrary indicators of wealth really have nothing to do with what we need or what makes the best financial sense. Obviously.
Mr. MMM and I acknowledge that lifestyle inflation is something we need to continuously monitor. We also acknowledge that it is difficult, at times, to adhere to the tight restrictions we have set for our money. Because of this, we have developed a wealth contract, specifically stating what we will do with our money this year. We have both signed it. It clearly states what our priorities are and what is acceptable spending for 2016. Thanks for the suggestion, John, at 60-Minute Finance!
What are your temptations? What techniques do you use to resist lifestyle inflation?
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