Don’t let your lifestyle creep up on your income

When I started my blog a little over six years ago, my husband and I made about $70,000 per year. To many people, that seems like a lot of money. After taxes, the mortgage payment, and our debt payments we were barely getting by. Now, we make more than twice that. You wouldn’t know it looking at us because our lifestyle hasn’t changed much. We haven’t allowed our lifestyle to creep up to our income.

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It is so tempting to increase lifestyle when income rises. When we first started working, we did allow our lifestyle to creep. We bought new cars and nice things. We lived the way we thought we were meant to based on the income we made. If we could afford the payments, we could afford what we wanted.

After I was diagnosed with cancer and beat it, we realized that stuff did not make us happy. Security and weathering future storms made us happy. Having each other makes us happy.

We still live in the same house. My husband still drives one of those new cars we purchased in 2002. We don’t have a car payment. I do the majority of my grocery shopping at Aldi and PriceRite. We didn’t have cable TV for years and the only reason we have it now is because the cable company offered it free for one year. When that year is up, we will go back to our rabbit ears. We don’t buy expensive clothing, although we each have a few pairs of decent shoes. We actually rarely buy clothes at all.

Our monthly expenses are very similar to what they were six years ago, except for items that have increased in cost significantly like food and gasoline. We have actually cut back on a number of things and because of the debt we have paid off, we have fewer required monthly payments than we did six years ago. If our income dropped back to 2008 levels, we would actually be much better off than we were back then.

Even though we have an excellent income, we still live like we are broke. As far as we are concerned, we are still broke. We still have debt. We have a slightly positive net worth, mostly because of our retirement savings and the debt we have paid down. We still have a lot of work to do.

When our debt is paid off, we will increase our lifestyle a bit. My husband would like to eat more steak. We would like to travel. We will save up some money to buy my husband a (slightly) better car. We would also like to save more and give more. We would like to have more time to pursue our dreams.

We have purposely lived well below our means to achieve our goals. We do not feel deprived. We are happy with our progress and happy with our lives. We have everything we need right now and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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  • Great post and reminder! I wish I had stuck to the college budget from the start but then we wouldn’t have learned life long lessons that in the end will further us in life. Or so I tell myself 😉

    • I have learned so much but wish I would have learned it far sooner than I did! It’s much harder going back to living like a college student after 10 years!