I’ve been thinking alot about our “lifestyle” lately. I guess because of the economy and everyone talking about how they are cutting back. I’ve read things like “no more eating out every week, no more Starbucks, less travel, fewer gadgets.
20 years ago my husband and I with two kids were living on his post-doc salary. It wasn’t very much. We did great though. I never felt poor at all. I got used to spending very little. Once he got a real job we bought a house that forced us to keep living at the same standard for several more years.
Then it happened. Some great friends of ours joked and called it Lifestyle Creep. Like a frog in water that’s heating up. Little by little the lifestyle goes up…eating out more, buying more expensive food for “special”, a new TV – bigger screen, more cool gear for camping (that’s not a bad thing is it?!), buying books at Borders instead of using the library, a new pillow for the couch, a new couch…the old one doesn’t really match. It keeps going, slowly but surely. We earn more – we spend more, to have a better life. That’s the creep thing.
Granted our lifestyle never crept beyond our means. We still managed to release money to charity and save a fair amount. But creep it has. But not as much as other people we know, we still have old cars, we still don’t eat out all that much (all the rationalizing.) But I think I want to be done creeping.
Somehow as an American this is the question that seems to be of highest value during an election year:”Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?” This makes the assumption that the goal of government is to make sure each person in the US is better off than they were before. LifeStyle Creep is the goal. Do I really measure my success in life by lifestyle creep? That’s really creepy!
What if we started changing the goal and it became Lifestyle shrink. Ha! The question would be this “is your life simpler, more manageable, less expensive, less frivolous than it was 4 years ago? Do you give more away to those in need? Do you value people more than stuff? Do you make decisions based on goodness rather than on your pocketbook?”
Lifestyle shrink. That’s what I want. Of course some of you will think I need a shrink after this post!