Earlier this week I pulled a stereotypical millennial move — I started a new job. Apparently, the average 25-year-old (which I’ll be in a month) has worked 6.3 jobs between the ages of 18-25.
Well, let’s count ’em up:
- Resident Assistant in college
- Koop Lab assistant (that was the broadcast editing lab on my campus)
- The Late Show with David Letterman, page
- (During the same time period as Late Show) Starbucks barista
- Babysitter extraordinaire (still working this gig)
- Account coordinator at a PR agency
- Freelance writer
- Mystery new job!
Oh, look at that. Eight jobs! I just always have to be slightly better than average.
In my new position (don’t worry, I’m writing a full-length post on it soon), I have gotten a bit of a pay bump. Anyone who works in the communications field knows that it isn’t a well-paying industry.
Several months ago, I wrote an article for DailyFinance about Lifestyle inflation (don’t bother reading the comments). Because I wasn’t experiencing it myself, I remember thinking how easy it is to handle lifestyle inflation. Just keep living the way you’re used to living and bank all that sweet, sweet extra cash.
Suddenly, I’m empathizing with people who fall into the trap. I’m eying gym memberships and thinking, “I could swing that.” Suddenly, I’m a little more likely to eat lunch out instead of sticking by my long-standing tradition of brown-bagging it. Hell, I even briefly considered getting cable again! (What can I say, I was at my parents house and it was nice being able to catch up on ‘The Real Housewives‘).
Don’t be confused. I’m not suddenly rolling in it. It’s just a bit more than I’m used to make. This coupled with the slightly Trappist monk lifestyle I’ve been living, and the freelance money, means I’ve set myself up so that I’m comfortable with spending a little. I’m not plotting a drastic lifestyle inflation or anything, but it’s nice to feel free to go to the movies AND out to dinner without wringing my hands. Or enjoy some of the finer (as in not on my list of cheap stuff to do) things New York City has to offer.
How am I handling it, you ask?
Naturally, I have set up a 401(k) at work. I plan to automate a portion of my paycheck into savings into to curb too much temptation to splurge. Usually I just transfer it myself. I’ll also continue to save all the freelance income I earn in order to reach my emergency fund goal. Finally, I want to do some more investing — but I’m not sure exactly what yet.
It’s natural to experience some level of lifestyle inflation
I’m certainly not eager to ever go back to my days of sustaining primarily on “expired” Starbucks leftovers I got to take home after I closed up. There is no shame in increasing your comfort level, just a bit. But in order to stay frugal and financially fit, I’m taking the steps right now to ensure that this pay increase means more investing power, higher contributions to savings and a fun splurge just here-and-there.
How have you handled lifestyle inflation?
Favorite Reads This Week:
- You Don’t Need to Be Financially Literate to Teach Your Kids About Money – Shannon at The Heavy Purse
- Is it REALLY Okay to Take Paternity Leave? – Andrew at Living Rich Cheaply
- Mental Health and and Money – Michelle at Fit is the New Poor [Warning: this one has some triggers for certain folks, but it’s an important and often overlooked topic]