Lifestyle inflation is something many of us struggle with. To put it simply, lifestyle inflation occurs when our spending increases along with our income. All of us could probably use a little more money. But when you get a raise, windfall, or a higher-paying job, it can be tempting to beat lifestyle as well.
When I look back at my budget from years ago, I used to spend so little compared to what I spend now. Yes, our income has increased, but our goals to save and invest are still the same. In order to improve my finances, I need to beat lifestyle inflation and keep spending low and reasonable.
Here are some practical ways that I’ve decided to try this year. Keep in mind, that these are just my personal ideas based on my goals and what I feel will help me reign in spending. However, I hope it encourages you to take real steps to beat lifestyle inflation as well.
Using a Reverse Budget
This year, I plan to use more of a reverse budget which is something I’ve strayed away from in previous years. A reverse budget is simply paying yourself first. Usually, when people get paid, they prioritize their bills and other immediate wants and needs. Then, if anything is left over at the end of the month, they put money toward savings or debt payoff.
In reality, this rarely works out because we all need to have a clear plan for our money and set it aside early on. If you don’t do this, your money will find a place to go during the month as random expenses come up.
This year, I plan to use a reverse budget and put money consistently toward investing and rebuilding our emergency fund as soon as I get paid. Then, I’ll budget with the remainder of the money for the month.
Prioritizing Paying Off Debt
Using a reverse budget will also help me prioritize debt payoff this year. Last year we sold our house and the process was very stressful and expensive. We ended up putting some expenses on credit cards and took out a small loan. This year, I want to pay off the credit card debt I accumulated, hopefully in just a few months.
Doing this will help me avoid lifestyle inflation by freeing up even more money in the budget to pursue other goals. So far, I’ve already created a debt repayment plan and decided to use the debt snowball method.
I’ve also begun budgeting for debt payments so I know specifically how much will go toward each account whenever I get paid each month.
Stop Comparing, Start Comparison Shopping
If you want to beat lifestyle inflation, you’ll also need to stop comparing your situation to others. Trying to compete with others or keep up with the Joneses will just drain your finances. Personally, I try not to pay too much attention to what other people are doing. I take what I see on social media with a grain of salt and continue to refocus on my personal goals and vision for my life and family.
It’s great to reframe your mindset this way so you focus less on trying to impress other people and more on what you have currently and where you’re headed in the future. Instead of comparing and trying to one-up others, it’s important to find ways to stretch money in your own household and I like to do this by comparison shopping.
Thanks to the internet and user-friendly mobile apps, it takes just a minute to shop around for certain items and take advantage of sales and coupons to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Amazon carries a ton of products so searching for the item on this site is an easy way to comparison shop. You can also the Google Shopping tab or Brad’s Deals to shop around and get the best price for everyday items.
More Dump and Go Crockpot Meals
We already don’t dine out a ton, but I want to limit restaurant meals even more by creating consistent meal plans and adopting simple recipes. Ideally, I want to have a few nights where I don’t cook at all (we eat leftovers) or where I can prepare a delicious full meal in 20 to 30 minutes or less. This includes prep time.
Dump-and-go crockpot meals are perfect for this because you can prepare large dinner portions and it only takes a few minutes to gather your ingredients. Just turn your slow cooker on low in the morning and by dinnertime, you’ll have a warm and tasty meal.
Some of my favorite crockpot meals include beef stew, lemon, herb-flavored whole chicken, chicken tortilla soup, and beef carnitas just to name a few.
If you have an air fryer or pressure cooker, you can use these tools to make quick and affordable meals at home too. By taking the stress and time out of cooking, you’ll be more likely to prepare meals at home and save money.
Canning and Preserving Food
In addition to making more easy meals at home, I want to start canning and preserving food this year. This will be a great hobby and also help my household save money. Last year, I bought canning equipment from Amazon and I’ve been watching a few YouTube videos and reading books.
I’m excited to just get started with this activity and see where it goes. Canning may seem old-fashioned, but it’s really not a ton of time-consuming work. Plus, when done right, it can help you save a ton of money in the future.
Imagine being able to buy in-season produce on sale and preserve it for future use. You’ll save money by avoiding having to buy the food at a higher price during the off-season. Think about the convenience of grabbing homemade pasta sauce from your pantry when you decide to make a quick pasta dish for dinner.
Decluttering Every Quarter
Decluttering is a great way to get organized and beat lifestyle inflation by being more mindful of your belongings. When you declutter, you get rid of the things you don’t want or need. Last year, I read a book called Declutter Like a Mother and it helped me get rid of a lot of unused stuff in my home before we moved.
In the book, the author mentions that decluttering is a process that you’ll need to do regularly. You may not get rid of everything the first time you do it. Plus, the more you declutter, the more aware you’ll be of the things you don’t want to bring into your home anymore.
Redeeming Travel Rewards
I have some travel rewards left over from previous years that I need to use up. Overall, my husband and I want to use credit cards much less and pay off some debt. But this still doesn’t mean I won’t be keeping my eyes out for travel deals and offers that make sense financially.
My family and I love to travel and vacation together. Right now, I have enough points for a resort stay somewhere and it won’t cost us any extra money. I plan to read more travel blogs and learn strategies to help me save money on travel without racking up additional debt. That way, we can still explore and try new things without dealing with lifestyle inflation.
Local Free and Frugal Activities
Back when my budget was very low, I always looked to find local free and frugal activities. Now that we’ve moved to a new city, I want to continue this habit. Just because you’re trying to beat lifestyle inflation, doesn’t mean you can’t do anything fun. Look for free events and affordable attractions in your area.
See if there are any free zoos in your area or free entry days at a local museum. This will require research and you’ll need to get creative, but it’s definitely worth it.
Summary: Beat Lifestyle Inflation By Making it a Lifestyle
If you’re looking to beat lifestyle inflation and lower your spending, you’re not alone. With the cost of living increasing this past year, everyone could benefit from saving a little money. The easiest way to make this change is to make it a lifestyle and adopt lifelong habits.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to cut back on spending. Choose the ideas and strategies that work best for you so they’ll be easier to stick to.