I’ve totally been doing The Creep…the Lifestyle Creep. A little over a year ago, I was making about a third less than what I currently make. And somehow I am saving WAY LESS than I did while at my previous job. Yes, we bought a house and took on higher bills and a little more going to the mortgage than rent at our previous place. But where is the rest of it going?! I will tell you, my friends. It’s going to me being an idiot about spending.
It’s so easy to find an excuse to reward yourself when you’ve gotten a raise or when you feel like you work really hard. Trying not to spend on non-necessities has shown me that I have a SERIOUS lifestyle creep problem. Instead of aiming to go out for a beer, now we’ll go out for a beer and dinner. I also used to primarily eat out for breakfast, and that has turned into dinner. That’s dumb because I LOVE BREAKFAST. I don’t even want to eat dinner (that’s a lie…I love all food all the time), but given the option, I pick breakfast any day. And you know what the best part about going out for breakfast is? It’s way less expensive than dinner. We also used to have people over for brunch or game nights. Now that Andy is working nights, that doesn’t happen and we end up meeting people out at restaurants or bars. And since when do I stop at Whole Foods more than once a month, let alone 3 times a week? Oh, since I started taking the bus that leaves from the Whole Foods parking lot. I don’t need coffee. I have coffee at home. I don’t need kombucha. I have kombucha at home and it’s expensive. I also don’t need a $4 breakfast burrito that isn’t really that good anyway.
WHY CAN’T I STAY AWAY?!?
Check out this article from LearnVest about lifestyle creep.
So I’m going to combat it. I’m going to go back to doing what I do best: hosting people and eating breakfast. Meaning, I’m putting an end to the lifestyle creep. The higher bills aren’t avoidable, but I can cut other places. I started by canceling my Audible membership before they could get me one more time for this month. I even resisted the $20 coupon they offered me to stay. Look at that willpower…
Have you experienced lifestyle creep? What’d you do about it? Or did you just keep Doing the Creep?
NPR has been running stories this week about wage garnishment and funds seizure for consumer and medical debt. It’s a terrifying prospect that you could find yourself suddenly only making minimum wage on pay day when you’re expecting more, or looking at your bank account to find that it’s suddenly empty.
I came home one day a couple weeks ago to a letter from a collection company demanding I pay a medical bill from visiting my doctor in April. I had never received a statement for the bill that was in collections and had last paid my doctor’s office in June, and then confirmed with their billing office that I was all paid up. They had even told me I had overpaid and would need to get in touch with billing to get reimbursed about $20.
After a minor heart attack, I called the billing office for my doctor’s office, and they told me a statement had been sent to “920 Mash St.” Not only have they had our correct address and sent me other statements for over a year, but this only slightly resembles our previous address because the number is correct. They also had my phone number wrong in their system, even though I have received several calls from the nurses and receptionists, so they clearly have the correct number somewhere.
Fortunately, the billing office recognized their mistake and contacted the collections company to make sure I don’t receive any more collection notices and so it doesn’t impact my credit. But what if those collections notices had gone to “920 Mash St” and I woke up one day to money missing from my account or from my paycheck? It’s a terrifying prospect that in many places, there’s nothing protecting people from these aggressive collections tactics. It’s also a common thread in these stories that when the people in debt were served notices to appear in court, the summons was hidden in a bunch of other paperwork related to the debt and they missed the summonses completely, and thus their only opportunity to defend themselves from wage garnishment or having their accounts depleted.
I will spare you all from a political rant, but I really think we need to do a better job of taking care of each other. You never know what someone’s situation is like unless you’re in it, and most people want to pay back their debts. These practices seem over-the-top and predatory. Wage garnishment when someone isn’t paying child support and someone else is dependent upon that money to care for a child, but when the only ones benefiting from ransacking someone’s paycheck or bank accounts are multi-billion dollar corporations, it’s time to rethink these policies.
This is apparently my year of really excellent luck. I have been MIA on the blog because I wrecked pretty hard on my bicycle last weekend and managed to fracture my ribs (most likely multiple). The very quaint trolley tracks downtown that are for a trolley that no longer runs grabbed ahold of my tire and sent me ribs-first into the curb of the median. It probably looked something like these pictures, minus my head spilling egg.
Thankfully, I wasn’t scratched up, but I did feel like I got hit by a bus. It was also like the second time EVER that I forgot to wear my helmet and I feel so fortunate that my head didn’t look like the egg head guy. WEAR YOUR HELMET!
So, besides the procurement of a new washing machine, the addition of unanticipated health related costs made me very thankful that I have an emergency fund in place.
Unanticipated costs as a result of my wreck:
- Co-pay for doctor appointment where he told me what I already guessed and gave me a prescription that made everything worse
- Prescription that made everything worse–I was SOOOOOO sick from the pain pills so I only took two before I stopped. This was a generic so it only set me back $9.
- OTC painkillers in two varieties (Aleve is a godsend), capsaicin pain relief patches, heat and cool patches, and thermal heat patches to try to find some solution to allow me to sleep through the night
- Take out and easily prepared (ie not things I normally buy) groceries because I couldn’t do anything for myself
- Anti-inflammatory foods and supplements (tart cherry juice, turmeric, detox tea, kombucha, epsom salts for bath, etc.)
- Acupuncture five days in a row
- Most likely an additional chiropractic appointment
It could have been much, much worse and cost much, much more and this is why it’s important to have an emergency fund in place.
I am feeling like a normal person again and the pain has localized, so I no longer feel like I got hit by a bus…or like I hit the hard concrete of a curb followed by the hard bricks of Mountain Ave., but I still have costs rolling in trying to care for myself. On the bright side, I don’t have a yoga membership for two months and I’m not drinking because I’m taking pain relievers and I am trying to heal, so that balances out a bit of the unanticipated expenses.
I’ll have to get back to you on No Spend September posts because I was out of commission for a week.
To FINALLY wrap up the minimalist game from July, Andy and I took a giant load of purged stuff to Arc. In a fit of desperation of wanting my garage back, we took a bunch of stuff to Arc, a thrift store in town that provides training, jobs, and resources to people with developmental disabilities and their families. I had some stuff that was slated for sale, but decided I would rather reclaim the garage and donate a lot of it. I also get the joy of itemizing on my tax return, so it’ll help out when tax time rolls around.
Some highlights: a big box of VHS tapes that our friend sneakily abandoned in our living room before he left for the Peach Corps, my alarm clock from college and grad school that tortured me for many mornings, my old climbing shoes, lots of clothes that did not make the Plato’s Closet or consignment cuts during previous purges, a shoe organizer, a wireless router (sneakily abandoned with the VHS tapes), a rug, a toaster, an old pan, and a Fossil purse and matching wallet that I bought at a garage sale. There were also many giveaway items from conferences, a giant bag of ribbon scraps, and a couple of DVDs that we have duplicates of.
Not absolutely sure of the final count, but I do know for certain that I eliminated way more items than I planned on. Sadly, I still have two rooms in the house that I didn’t touch.
I am certainly nowhere near being a “minimalist,” but it felt great to get rid of some of the extra crap that’s accumulated and I’m always shocked when I purge at how much we can get rid of and never miss it. I am currently reading Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, and I vow not to die from being crushed to death by a mountain of junk.
I am actually going to do it this time. I have fought many temptations already and we’re only on day 2. I am also going to post my spending so I have to be accountable when I make a terrible decision. Here we go:
September 1–Labor Day
First of all, starting this on a holiday was sort of a terrible idea. We checked out the new brewery, Snowbank Brewing (delicious and great atmosphere). Andy was nice enough to buy my flight, and we didn’t plan well so we needed food to continue to live. I spent $16.80 on two entrees from Umami for us. We NEEDED to eat though or our one beer each would have been enough to send us over the edge so, while not ideal, I’m calling this a necessity. I also went with the cheapest options available to us.
We then went to a barbecue and I spent $6.48 on chips and dip supplies, along with a Rockstar–$2.00 of this was clearly not necessary.