My team consisted of just five people, but two of us could not stand each other and were constantly busy quarreling and denigrate each other. Another team member was regularly sick, and one was immune to overtime, which is why he was held by the other for a slacker. As team leader Paul could not just go at six clock home, even if he had done his work. That would have given the impression that he did not do enough, he’ll take his duties seriously, or he was not the career man whom his superiors wanted to see in him. So he often sat around in the office and waited until the rest of the management was gone, so he could go home.
“Well, at least you get a raise,” I said.
Paul sighed. “That was not worth it. After taxes and the things that I bought, it makes little difference. ”
“If you could decide again,” I asked him, “would you like the carriage again?”
He thought for a few seconds long. “No. Not with what I know now. “
I want Paul not to criticize harshly, because if we are honest, we can at least partially seen in his behavior and even imagine that we would have acted just like him. Of course it does our ego good if we get the feeling that our performance will be appreciated if someone says: “They do a great job. We would like to give you a more demanding task, and you pay more for that you do. “That’s what has happened in Paul’s case. He was flattered, he believed, the extra money would make him happier than it then was indeed the case. Until he however noted that he had already adapted his lifestyle to the new income.
For many people, life evolves in a similar manner. We get a job and this job brings a certain amount of money. Based on this information, we make financial decisions, such as what kind of car we drive, how many rooms our house or our apartment, which resorts to come for our holiday in question. We work in this job, there’s no tomorrow, then we look for a better, which is generally accompanied with a higher salary and a higher status.
Just like Paul.
But now that we have a higher income, we want to indulge in some areas of our lives a little. New toys. New accessories. New apartment. When we would reach a new level in a computer game. The kitchen in our apartment we never like, right? It is a bit dark. In addition, the dining room is too small for the dinner parties that we give so much, right? So we move into a bigger apartment.
Until we realized is that we now have new problems. Approximately all the extra space in our new home, which must be filled. Of course, it should be beautiful furniture of good quality, as befits someone with our new status, right? As has also increased our work with the highest responsibility, we need time-saving devices such as dishwashers or vacuum cleaning robot. We feel even want us to treat all these extravagant things that could our past I mocked mercilessly as meaningless or exaggerated – a cleaning lady, heated towel racks, an expensive set of knives, good wine, a lemon hood.
Through this continuous upgrading process increase our monthly expenses and adapt to the height of our new, higher income to. With the result that, no great difference can be established in our bank account at the end of the month, after everything is paid. The more we earn, the more we spend. It’s called lifestyle Creep or lifestyle inflation – and there is a real and serious problem.
Because – even if it sounds like a truism – the more our employer pays us, the more he expects from us. So increases with the increase in our salary, the number of our work hours. At the end we are more stressed than before and have less time we spend in front of the new 1000 euro TVs or with our lemon hood in our new apartment or behind the wheel of the new car, or on the couch. And even if we find the time, it may be that our thoughts are increasingly busy with work. With the constant pressure in our necks.
The less time we have, the more we expect understandably by this time. We want to be compensated for all the hard work and all the stress that we have. How often do you hear people say: “I’m working hard. Did I deserve no expensive shoes? Or a five-star holiday? Or a nice home? Or a meal in a fancy restaurant? “So we enjoy these things.
But if we are very, not very careful, we have quickly become accustomed to all these increases in our lifestyle – and so it can easily happen that we just keep burdening us with ever new and ever higher financial obligations each month. And that in turn means that we always work so hard and have to earn as much to pay for it all, even if we are not happy at the end than before with our earlier, more modest lifestyle. The problem is that we very quickly get used to things, whether it is a new apartment or swimming in a waterfall. This phenomenon is called hedonic treadmill or hedonic adaptation. If our fixed costs so about our rent or monthly mortgage payments – rise, which can become a ball and chain that prevents us to new horizons. The fixed costs are fixed chains on our current standard of living and make it difficult to change jobs or stoke fears of job losses. These fears may well be justified, given the pace of technological change in our economy. It is therefore of utmost importance that we, after we have mentally prepared ourselves for the increasing insecurity of life, financially take this into account. One of the biggest obstacles in this regard is the lifestyle Creep.
Our happiness is not a fixed size – it varies, and we can increase it active. However, not as much as we like to imagine ourselves, and also not for the reasons that we think generally. A well-known study on this subject compared the life satisfaction of lottery winners, people who had suffered paralysis from an accident, and a control group over a given period. The surprising result: All three groups had similar levels of happiness. Lottery winners got used after some time on their profits and were then not happier than paraplegics after it as much had had time to get used to their new disability. Similar studies have concluded that divorce, the death of a partner, the birth of a child or a marriage all have no effect on the long-term happiness. They may cause a temporary loss or gain, but after some time we return to our usual base level. Our income, our physical attractiveness, even our health are poor indicators of our happiness level.
What is the best indicator? The quality of our interpersonal relationships. A study published in the Journal of socioeconomics study came to the conclusion that an increase of our “social commitment” could make us as happy as additional EUR 90 000 per year.
Of course, it requires great courage to refuse carriage and to decide that you’re happy there, where you are just. That one has everything what you need, and that you want to spend as much time as possible with family and friends. And that everything else that we bring into our lives, just things that we have to pay, or who again we lose fear are. Interestingly, the lottery winners were not only no happier after their win, it could prove also that they “had to a number of everyday things significantly less pleasure”. Lifestyle Creep means not only that we get used to our new achievements, it also ensures that the old things lose their luster makes – what delighted us earlier, we feel now as unsatisfactory.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this problem and found a solution, which I believe that it represents an easy way to get our finances under control and at the same time to combat the dangers of lifestyle Creep. I call them the freedom formula. She is the subject of the next chapter.