Recently, The Hubby had his annual performance review at work. He transferred from one department to another over the summer (not a pay increase, but better working conditions), so he wasn’t expecting to be eligible for a raise. But, he got one! Are you ready for how much?
An extra $50 a month.
If you’re like I was before I became a PF nut, you’re sarcastically thinking “Woohoo! Fifty whole bucks!” If you’re someone who scrimps and saves and really appreciates how much each dollar is worth (like I know B&B readers are), you’re probably thinking “Fifty extra dollars! I can coupon my way to 100 tubes of toothpaste with that money!”
(Or something like that. You may not be that extreme.)
So naturally, the time came for “The Discussion…”
As budget master (mistress?) of our household, it was time for me (with The Hubby’s input, of course) to decide what to do with that extra $50/month.
We could have one nice dinner out (or two of our usual discount meals out).
We could increase the “misc.” category on our budget to give us a little extra wiggle room. (Always dangerous, because “misc.” expenses are usually the impulse purchases we don’t really need but talk ourselves into justifying in a moment of weakness.)
We could get some of the many home repairs we need done now, on financing, and use the extra $50 to make the payments. (Financing instead of paying cash is one of my big “avoid whenever possibles,” but you see how a little extra money gets my wheels spinning?)
In the end?
We decided that the extra money from The Hubby’s raise is going straight into our emergency fund. We’re going to keep going by the budget we had before his raise, and putting away the extra for the things that always do come up when you least expect them…vet bills, health care expenses, car repairs.
Why are we going this route?
Because we’ve seen too many friends and family members fall into the trap of “lifestyle inflation.” They get a better job, and suddenly they’re leasing a sports car and wearing designer clothes. They get a big promotion, and instead of using it to pay down the debt we know they have, they go out and celebrate with flat screen TVs and expensive vacations
Which means they never really get ahead, even though they’re making more money, because their expenses just get bigger as their income gets bigger.
We’re perfectly happy with the way our life is right now. Sure, we make a few sacrifices, but we don’t feel like we’re suffering by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t mind continuing to live a frugal lifestyle if it means we’ll be covered in the future if something unexpected pops up. And once our emergency fund hits the number we’re aiming for (currently $2,000), that money can start going towards something else, like those big home repairs or our retirement.
Have you ever been tempted by lifestyle inflation, or known someone who has? Have you fought it, or given in?
photo credit: Nathan Congleton