The following post is a contribution from Tony at We Only Do This Once. Tony is a trombone player who has performed with major symphony orchestra, on Broadway in NYC, and in recordings and movie soundtracks. He blogs about simplifying your life through downsizing and becoming financially fit.
One of the best and worst things that ever happened to me was that I had a five year stretch of massive raises in income. During this time, I chose to not live off of my old income, and instead buy a ton of stuff.
A year and a half ago, I found myself with debt up to my eyeballs (about $120,000 including my car loans, student loans, and credit card debt), and I decided that enough was enough. I am only a few short months from paying it all off, and I will never go back!
If you are in the same situation as I was, you can turn the tide and reverse lifestyle inflation. Here is how:
Become Detached From Your Stuff:
The bottom line is: less stuff = less stress = more freedom.
We must develop an attitude about our stuff that leaves us unattached to it. Remember when we were young college students with only a box of stuff? Remember how free that felt? Developing this “old” attitude will make it so much easier to de-clutter our current homes when we decide to reverse lifestyle inflation.
Can You Detach? If So, Sell It:
Start slow. Get rid of one item each day. Start with an old fork; anything works. Sell, donate, or trash one item every day for three months. You will be shocked at the results.
Here’s what I did:
I sold my cars, walk more, and will be taking up bike riding soon as a means of transportation.
Do you have a car loan? Consider trading it in and buying a “beater”. Your car loan is one of the largest wealth killers you have. How bad do you want to get out of debt? Your car is first on the list to go.
Sell your items online.
Get on eBay, Craigslist, or your local town website and sell any item you have not touched for six months. I sold a ton of stuff and cleared out so many rooms that I could move into a house with 1000 less square feet if I chose! I do not miss one item that I sold. If you miss it that much, you can buy another!
Combat Lifestyle Inflation with a Budget and Stick With It:
You have heard it a million times, so here it is again: Without a budget that you strictly adhere to you are not going to deflate your lifestyle. I write out a budget monthly with my wife and give every dollar a name. I also do not use credit cards and pay cash only for everything using an envelope system.
You have probably read scores of blogs that have said the same thing as I am here. What I am getting at is that reversing lifestyle inflation is a paradigm shift in our behavior. We must disengage from the attitude that owning things will make us happy. By starting slowly (one thing at a time), we can reverse our behavior and start building new, better habits.
It took me about 3 months to sell my stuff, get on a budget that worked, and regulate my envelopes. Habits take time, so you must be patient. But understand this: anyone can reverse lifestyle inflation…anyone. How badly do you want it?
MMD Note: Thanks Tony for this post. A lot of people think that managing money is all about making more and covering their bills. But you’ve identified a very subtle and significant part of the battle that is just as important: How you think about your money and spending. For anyone who would like some help with their budget, you can download it from my Excel Budget Template post here.
Readers – How will you reverse lifestyle inflation in your life?
Image courtesy of ddpavumba / FreeDigitalPhotos.net