Lifestyle inflation and doing more stuff
Sep 30, 2023 5:06 am
This month, I'm:
- Doing stuff! Lots of stuff!
- Putting podcasts to new uses
- Hacking sleep
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💰 A simple way to save more and spend more
There's not much you can do about inflation (unless you're Rishi Sunak, apparently). But we can all do something about lifestyle inflation.
This describes something we've all seen people do, and probably done ourselves to a degree: every time your earnings increase, your spending increases to match.
No-one is immune: I know investment bankers earning close to seven figures who are also spending close to seven figures – so despite being in the top fraction of the 1%, they're stuck on the trading-time-for-money treadmill with the rest of us.
Normal personal finance recommends that you save a fixed percentage of what you earn. Which doesn't help – and, in fact, mathematically guarantees lifestyle inflation....
By far my favourite thing about being an author is having translations I'd totally forgotten about randomly turn up in the post
👩👩👦👦 The "do more" challenge
My wife and I spent the years from 2020 until early 2023 attempting to survive lockdown, then going through IVF, then having a baby.
None of these activities were conducive to an adventurous life and fun-packed calendar – so even once that baby had become a toddler and we could reclaim some of our lives, we'd fallen into the habit of not doing much new and exciting stuff.
So: to snap ourselves out of it, a couple of months ago we set ourselves the "do more" challenge.
The idea was to start deliberately saying "yes" to more things and seeking out more activities – individually, as a couple, and as a family.
Since then we've taken day trips, booked trips abroad for the next two sets of school holidays, gone to comedy nights, seen a musical, visited the theatre, taken a cable car over the Thames before school, and a whole lot more I can't remember right now.
And – surprise surprise – even at the end of an exhausting day, it's still better than sitting at home complaining about being tired!
I've never managed to get into the habit of anything as formal as quarterly reviews, but I think this is a strong argument for doing something like that: we could have noticed sooner that we'd fallen into a rut and done something about it earlier.
The best thing we've started doing as a family, by the way, is geocaching. Rebrand it as a "pirate treasure hunt", and it's a fun way to explore the world around you in a whole new way.
Dinner with a group of entrepreneurs, at which I stayed out past 11pm for the first time in many years. Granted it was 11.01pm, but it still counts.
😴 My new sleep hack (with apologies to Melvyn Bragg)
You can keep your weighted blankets, cooling mattresses and fancy silk eye masks – I've figured out the perfect way of getting to sleep if your brain won't stop spinning.
The secret is to listen to a podcast or audiobook, which – and this is critical – you're mildly interested in.
Before this discovery, I tried listening to something outright tedious in the hope that it'd bore me to sleep. But it failed in the same way as when I tried to do a guided meditation or breathing exercises: I got caught up in my racing thoughts, and the audio didn't even consciously register.
Enter: something mildly interesting. The criteria are:
- It can't be connected to work, or any of your passions, BUT...
- You must be interested enough that you want to stay awake to see what happens next
That second point sounds counterproductive, but it's the key to the whole thing: I find that if I want to stay awake, my brain rebels and sends me straight to sleep. Ha – double-bluffed you, brain!
Don't tell Melvin, but the BBC's In Our Time podcast is my go-to for this. As a side-effect, I now know an unhelpfully small and incomplete amount about the Phoenicians, Berthe Morisot and King Canute among others.
Give it a try!
🔗 Odds and ends
👀 I loved this episode of the Planet Money podcast about tracking down the money stolen in crypto hacks... and the surprising actors involved.
🎥 I recorded this short video explaining why – especially now interest rates have normalised – property investors should embrace inflation.
That’s it for now! Feel free to write back and let me know what you've been up to.