Imagine for a second that you grew up with little to nothing.
Your childhood consisted of playing with toys that have been passed down for decades.
You and your family live in a small bedroom that was meant for one but instead holds five.
Eating out is a rare occurrence or it just never happens.
Every meal is barebones and is just enough to keep you alive with the essentials but you go to bed hungry more often than not.
Now let’s move along for a bit and flash-forward a couple decades.
Your family is better off now.
Hand-me-downs are a thing of the past and everything in your house is brand new. Nice television (four of them, in fact). Everyone has the latest and greatest smartphone.
Your parents are living more comfortably and you’ve even bought them a nice home of their own to thank them for caring for you.
You dine in the best restaurants several times a week, rarely eating at home.
You no longer have to budget carefully for large purchases. The purse strings are loose.
And you wonder how you ever got by with anything less, even though you grew up on the opposite side of the wealth & comfort spectrum.
I’m certainly not rich by any means. I don’t live in a large house or buy the latest and greatest with any sort of frequency.
But now that I’m making decent money, I find myself splurging on what I used to consider unimportant in my life.
I spent two weeks in Japan and found myself booking the nicer hotels and refusing to stay in more affordable hostels because I assumed they wouldn’t be comfortable.
When I was in Kobe, I nearly spent a significant sum on the world-famous Kobe beef (I instead opted for the much more affordable Brazilian BBQ experience).
And when I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, I spent a week looking at several different apartments with a strict criteria, eliminating rooms for simple reasons like the building lacking an elevator.
There are some valid reasons as to why I had to be so selective with my semi-long-term stay (consistent wifi is needed to run my business) but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t because I’ve grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle of luxury.
The higher up you go on the list of luxuries you demand, the more difficult it is to accept anything less.
The funny thing is, the luxuries rarely improve your life in any tangible way. I don’t feel happier now that I’m eating at nicer places nor do I sleep better because I’m in a larger room.
Yet, I can’t remove myself from these things. I’ve grown used to them and even though I know there’s no real “point” in indulging, I still do.
You definitely should be enjoying yourself–if that means splurging on occasion, so be it–but know that you’re limiting yourself if you demand a certain level of luxury everywhere you go.
Know what matters to you. Know what you can and can’t live without, because luxury has a point of no return.
P.S. I highly recommend you visit my good friend Joshua’s website, Becoming Minimalist, if you haven’t already. He knows better than most about what it means to have a full and purposeful life with less.
Niklas Goeke says
great post! Where do you think your point of no return would be? Can you put a number of monthly or annual income on it? Where you just couldn’t go back to less?
Also, I find a small thing to counteract that is to, on random days, just pick one thing to throw away or do without for a day.
For example you could just NOT buy coffee one day. Or throw out an old shirt that you never wear anyways.
Anyway, great post, keep up the good work!
Cheers from Germany,
Vincent Nguyen says
Not sure about the exact dollar amount but it’s more like drawing that line where you promise yourself not to consistently indulge in a certain area.
For example: only settling for the best housing arrangement or consistently eating at restaurants that are expensive. Those two are aspects that affect daily life. Refusing anything less than premium in those two areas will get pricey and limit your options.
Niklas Goeke says
Got it! Thanks for clarifying.
In part that’s why I set fixed proportions of my income to go to savings, education (seminars, books etc.), investments and fun.
I think pre-deciding/planning is key here.
I think it was a Jeff Goins book that said: Define when you will have enough.
Because everyone says: I’ll stop when I have enough. But if you don’t know how much enough is, when are you gonna stop? 😉
But it’s tough to say: Oh yeah sure I’ll stop at 10k/month.
Maybe just mark milestones where you take a deep breath and re-evaluate?
Whatever it takes not to get sucked into the vortex you described 🙂
Keep up the good work!
Vincent Nguyen says
Dig the idea of setting fixed proportions into different areas of your life! I used to do something similar and it was really effective because it lets you break things down into a $X per day limit in that category (just divide the monthly limit by 30).
Time to re-visit!
Know what you mean. I’m not a coffee aficianado. One day my parents brought home Kona from Hawaii. No comparison to what we call coffee here. Nowadays I just don’t bother with the crap. Who needs dregs? Just for a caffeine jolt? But if someone is brewing Kona or Jamaican Blue Mountain I can distinguish the aroma hundreds of yards away.
In a way isn’t life really all about the choices we make. We can choose to waste our time around people who drag us down. Or, we can learn to identify those who are better for us and the goals we seek.
Vincent Nguyen says
Not a coffee aficianado here either but my buddy gave me some Kopi Luwak coffee a while back and WOW, that stuff is good! Would definitely drink that more often if it weren’t crazy expensive. 🙂