You’re probably a victim of lifestyle creep. It only makes sense. I’ve always been pretty good at saving, but it’s so hard to fight that goddamn creep, man. In an effort to combat this, I’ve essentially kept my income the same since I was 22, meaning, whenever I got a raise, I would direct deposit the incremental raise to a separate bank account. It is important that this account is at a completely different bank, making it annoying to transfer funds. My theory was, if I don’t see it, I won’t use it.
For the most part, this plan worked pretty well, but it’s not foolproof. While I never touched that outside bank account, I still found myself transferring money in my main bank from my savings to checkings every now and then because I kept going over budget. This kind of negates the entire purpose of my plan. It’s hard to stick to a tight budget when deep down you know there won’t be any real repercussions if you don’t.
I wouldn’t exactly describe lifestyle creep as good or bad. It’s kind of part of growing up and should come slowly. I remember thinking that I finally made it when, without a second thought, I threw away socks that weren’t even old; they were just not as comfortable. My old roommate on the other hand, owns a wooden salad bowl and a matching large, wooden salad fork and spoon. Maybe one day, I’ll get on her level. More recently, I discovered my current roommate owns a paper towel holder. It’s not attached to anything, it just sits on the counter. Not sure if I’ll ever have enough disposable income to want to buy one of those. It’s nice though.
Anyway, I basically went over my preplanned budget every month this year, so obviously my “don’t see don’t spend” plan wasn’t working. Last month, I tried something new. Every night, I kept a running tally of how much money I spent that month on my whiteboard. So every night, I would erase the previous number, add what I spent that day to it and write the new number down. Doing this for an entire month helped me stay on budget for the first time this year. This process made me reflect on everything I spent money on at least once a day and constantly reminded me to not waste money. I thought it worked really well for how simple it was. I didn’t actively try to spend less money, but there was always a little voice in the back of my head reminding me how close I was tracking to my preplanned budget, which definitely helped curb my spending habits. I highly recommend trying this out for a month if you’re also having trouble sticking to your budget.