So I’ve started subscribing to some new newsletters lately to better expand the ol’ mind, and this last one I read by David Perell (who I very much recommend, btw) featured a great clip that I can’t stop marinating on:
“One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations. Once people get used to a certain luxury, they take it for granted. Then they begin to count on it. Finally they reach a point where they can’t live without it.” – Yuval Noah Harari, from “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”
We talk a lot about *lifestyle inflation* here and how our expenses tend to creep up over time along with our incomes, however thinking about it in terms of *luxuries* like that changes the picture a bit in my mind and actually makes me realize that I’m a lot more prone to lifestyle inflation than I originally thought!
In 10 seconds I came up with a list of 5 things I feel like I now “need” in my life, even though I was perfectly fine before them! Haha…
You wanna see what they are?
Of course you do:
- Smart phones. The biggest culprit of all! A decade ago I was just fine calling and texting around with my friends, and now if I go an hour without picking it up I have a minor heart murmur!
- Laptops. A bit more productive than the above, but I’m still very much attached to it more so than I’d like (if only you didn’t need a computer for blogging!).
- Internet. The bad boy that connects up our entire lives!! You literally disconnect from this one thing and your entire time – and wallet – expands over night, lol…
- Coffee shops. Remember the time before Starbucks or Cosi or Panera bread, etc? ME NEITHER! Because that was NO LIFE without coffee on every corner!!
- Cars. Believe it or not, there was also a time where people walked or buggied everwhere too… All the while enjoying quainter and more connected communities with one less major debt on their minds…Hell, even in modern times most of us don’t get behind a wheel until our late teens and still manage to survive okay… (albeit with a cramped style having mom take you everywhere, haha…)
Again, that’s just the stuff I came up with off the top of my head…
As soon as this Starbucks coffee hits my brain I’ll see about coming back and updating the list ;)
Point is – we’re all susceptible to inflating our expenses, and it’s especially hard to ignore once we get used to a lot of these “finer things” in life. Even if they don’t seem like *luxuries* anymore!
Best to just never try anything fun so you never have to worry about getting hooked, haha… At least that’s my reasoning for staying away from hard drugs and weed my entire life. I take one swig of booze and puff of cigar and get hooked on both on the spot! Ain’t no way I’m trying anything else and forever knowing the difference, haha…
Anyways, a fun exercise to do to see how far you’ve slipped into lifestyle inflation too ;)
Not everything we spend our money on is bad, of course, but if you don’t *know* why you’re still spending the way you are, it might make for a good opportunity to reassess and get back to the basics again.
James Clear recently came up with a good trick on how to re-focus where you’re spending your time, and I think it could very easily be applied to how you can better be spending your *money* too:
A simple way to ensure you are focused on what matters:
Imagine everything gets wiped. You inherit no tasks or responsibilities from your past or present.
Then, add back only what you miss. Choose what to add to a blank slate, not what to keep from a full plate.
What are some luxuries you’re now accustomed to that you weren’t even aware of?
For another excellent read on “stripping down” and starting over (along with some Zero-Based Budgeting love thrown in!), check out this piece from Morgan Housel: The Full Reset
// Link to Sapiens book above is an Amazon affiliate link.
Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!