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Don’t Upgrade

July 12th, 2006 at 06:04 pm

Imagine that your income was going to be cut by $100 a month permanently. What would you cut out or reduce? How about doing it now? You probably thought of things that weren’t as important to you….if you love dining out, you might have thought of cutting cable; if you love your TV, you may have thought about cutting out going out to eat. What if you gave up what wasn’t super important, and were then able to pay down debt, or build an emergency fund, or fund something really important to you, like a “real” vacation? Would you be willing to give up the things that you don’t need, don’t love?

I’m watching the Oprah Debt Diet show, and she’s reinforcing for me a principle that I have been working at articulating. Don’t Upgrade. I could lose my job today and take a minimum wage job and be okay, today. That is such a freeing feeling. It doesn’t feel deprived or degrading, it feels very freeing.

In all areas, we were very slow to increase spending when we went from broke to doing well. Getting Netflix, at $19.29 ($9.65 each) was a huge decision for us. We have the very basic $9.95 cable; that too was a huge decision for us (somewhat forced by a class of mine having televised segments.) People making half of what we do have “full” $50 cable.

In so many areas we have either not increased spending, or increased it by so little, that we don’t have much to lose. We’ve learned what is important to us, and spend little in areas that aren’t important to us.

I have a job I like. I eat a good diet, including lots of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. My house has plenty of furniture, and we have a wonderful comforter on a great bed. I have a lot of books, and a few magazine subscriptions. We have money to spend on leisure activities that are important to us. I have a great computer and a high speed connection. I have a car with 35,000 miles on it and no payments.

If our spending followed our income, if we had upgraded, and spent more, we’d have so much we’d have to give up. Faced with a downturn, we might have had to give up fancy coffee, full cable, Department Store shopping, convenience foods, fancy paper or cleaning products, new clothes, cruises, timeshares, jewelry, steak, a housecleaner.

By living low, I’ve actually created a better quality of life for myself than I might have if I had upgraded my spending without giving a lot of thought to it.

3 Responses to “Don’t Upgrade”

  1. flinnie Says:

    You have just put into words how I feel.
    I some time wonder if I am missing something because,
    I see people in my life just buying every thing they wont.

    They care less about how much clothing shoes or what ever cost.
    You make me feel so much better.
    Thank you.
    So back to saving.yea

  2. elgin526 Says:

    Excellant advice. I just got a 3% raise at work, and guess what? I increased my 401k contribution by 3%. Can't miss money I never had! Smile

  3. Lady Jennelle Says:

    Amen to that!! Smile

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