Last year I was talking to an acquaintance and he was telling me how excited he was about his new raise, since recently he had been struggling to make ends-meet. I was surprised to hear this since he earned more money than me, and I was comfortably saving/investing over 50% of my paycheck. As far as I knew he had no family to support or any big student loans to pay off.
I asked him why he was basically living paycheck to paycheck and he mentioned: “Well the cost of living in San Diego has been going up, I just need more money to keep up”. Now I was confused, we lived in the same city, and even though, yes, prices had been going up, it was nothing outrageous, at least not compared to Los Angeles or San Francisco. I asked him to elaborate as to what he meant by “the cost of living”. He mentioned that it meant: rent, car payments, food – things like that. And then it struck me, he was completely confused! There he was, this guy that had just bought a new luxury car, living in an expensive part of the city, buying expensive coffees and teas every day, eating out at restaurants and buying groceries at expensive places, and was blaming all of it on the “rising cost of living”.
I told him that it was not the cost of living which affected him; he was actually experiencing: lifestyle inflation; spending more and inflating his lifestyle as his pay increased. As far as I knew, it was not a requirement to buy yourself a new expensive car and live in an expensive part of town in order to live in San Diego. He replied: “But you don’t understand, I need my luxuries”.
I decided to leave it at that. Clearly, I was not going to convince him that he didn’t need all of that, and didn’t have the will to start an argument, so I just said, “Ok”, and moved on. I haven’t talked to him since, but hopefully, his luxuries are still worth the paycheck to paycheck life…
Lesson: let’s take responsibility for our actions and situation, and not blame it on things out of our control.