Several people have questions about the way they spend their lives, the area they live in, the clothes they wear and even the car they drive. Most wealthy people socialize with similar people, similarity meaning the amount of money they have in their bank accounts, but a large majority of these people end up hating the way they live their lives due to the fact that they have bound themselves into a standard of life that they have to maintain forever.
However, I think of all this differently. Why should someone spend their lives according to someone else’s standards? If you are amongst those people who are confused about how they should spend their life, then you will be glad you made it to this article for the first time because I will explain to you just a single change that will not only change your life, but can also save you thousands of dollars.
Avoid Lifestyle Inflation
At times, we misuse our money by comparing our personal lives to the people who earn the same amount we do, and that also fuels the idea of moving to the areas where they reside. However, this does not end there; living amongst people of the same standard or better has its disadvantages. For instance, you may always wish to drive a fancier car and send your children to the right schools in order to keep up with the people in the area.
Let’s go through an example that will make things more clear: for example, your current salary is $80,000 per year, and based on your performance you are given a raise of 30% on your current salary. You currently own a house with 3 beds and 2 baths in a pretty decent area and the per annum property tax is $2.6k. Based on the sharp rise in property costs, if you move to another home in the same vicinity, that is going to cost you almost twice the taxes you are paying already. Tacked along to the taxes are several other expenses that keep on growing on a daily basis; at times they may go unnoticed, but they do put a huge dent in the overall payment plan that we have to maintain.
How to Avoid Lifestyle Inflation?
Let me put it in simple words for you: “Stay away from high-income neighborhoods”. If you think you will manage to live in a wealthy suburb and not engage in a lifestyle inflation, then you need to think again.
We as humans start copying the people we live among slowly and gradually, even if we don’t wish to do so. That is how the human race developed, and if you think you can beat the law of evolution then you are totally wrong.
When it comes to living in fancy houses, there are several negative things that you will have to go through. Simply put, you have always dreamed of owning a BMW 7 Series, which costs approximately $94,000. You have worked hard for years in order to save up that much money, but once you buy the car and drive to your house in your all-new BMW you notice that the person living next door to you bought a new car as well. Unfortunately, the neighbor dreamt of a Bentley Continental GT, which costs approximately $200,000.
You can imagine how it would actually feel; if you manage not to hate the BMW, at the very least you would start thinking badly about the deal you got yourself. This would unknowingly push you into an inferiority complex, and this is a phenomenon known as relative deprivation.
Reduce Advertising Exposure
The main idea behind advertising is to make things seem intriguing for us, so that we are dedicated to getting that thing, regardless of whether or not we need that thing. These advertisements are meant to implant ideas in our minds.
People in different age groups tend to perceive advertisements differently. As kids, we have not yet developed the critical reasoning skills that help us consider the positive and the negative impact that occurs as a result of accepting something. If you have been exposed to too many advertisements as a kid, you feel like you need to have those things to maintain your status and self-worth as an adult.
Advertisements have been successful in pulling people in because they portray items as something that would help our self-worth or self-esteem grow. Eventually, we fall prey to these by getting things that we do not actually require; for instance, jewelry, beauty products, luxury items, etc.
Consider the following example:
This advertisement has been linked to your worth in a way that it draws people towards it. You start developing a mindset that the more expensive a product gets, the better it is to use.
Here is another example:
In this advertisement, the link between the product and self-esteem is abstract, however, Bill Gates is an important person and by linking the fact that he owns a Rolex, you would want one too. Make sure that the word “worth” doesn’t go unnoticed in both the examples.
Watch ads are made differently and are more appealing, because you do know that a normal watch would cost around $10; you are hypnotized to such a level that you are ready to pay 30 times more for practically the same thing, and the only attraction is that Bill Gates has a watch from the same company.
Practically, think about how you already have a smartphone and you can pull that out to check the time, which would save you a bunch of money.
Did you notice a pattern?
The solution to this problem is very simple: “Stop watching TV.”
Another issue with advertisements is the fact that they pull you in with discounts. In reality, these discounts might not be too much; for example, if you get something you don’t need with a 30% discount… You still wasted your money!
First things first, you don’t have to change your religion in order to qualify for meditation. I’m not a Buddhist, but I do meditate. Meditation is a source of brainstorming within yourself about your current situation with reference to the future and your goals. It makes one content about what he/she has, rather than what the person is missing.
Moreover, Buddhism teaches us that there is no concept of one’s self. It is a gimmick that becomes an origin to several thoughts that keep us bound in a nutshell. Imagine the amount of times you feel bad when comparing yourself to a colleague or a friend, or even a distant family member. Now, imagine the inexistence of self.
Without the concept of self, there is no comparison of yourself to anyone else. If you link this concept to the phenomenon of ads, all those factors that were being used to pull you towards them are no longer applicable. This also makes you start thinking the way we should actually think. For example, if you need a watch it should be for the purpose of knowing time; it wouldn’t matter if you bought a Rolex or Timex, as long as it serves the purpose.
How Does Mindfulness Work?
The part of the brain in charge of emotions is called the amygdala. It is a more primal part of the brain; it evolved first and is found even in reptiles.
Research showed that Buddhist monks have smaller amygdalae and much thicker pre-frontal cortices. The pre-frontal cortex handles concentration, awareness, and decision making. The pre-frontal area has evolved recently (evolutionarily speaking) and is found in mammals (i.e. in more complex brains).
This means that Buddhist monks have a stronger control over their emotions, since the part that controls our emotions is smaller compared to the front cortices that help with critical thinking. The ratio between the two parts of our brain is dependent on the number of hours we spend meditating.
Meditation is sitting down with your eyes closed and concentrating your attention on your breathing. Your attention will wander from time to time, and you gradually bring it back. The goal is to watch your thoughts without identifying with them. Buddhists compare the process to sitting on the side of the highway and watching cars passing by. Sometimes you jump on one of them and it takes you down the highway. But then you remember, get off, and watch cars passing you by again.
With meditation you start building immunity to emotions; for example, if someone you know buys a new car and you hear about it, instead of feeling that you need to change your car as well, you start thinking that these are emotions that are making you feel this way and that the car you have already is still able to get you through another year or so.
Indulging yourself in meditation on a regular basis will make you content, more accepting of yourself, and emotionally stable. You are less likely to overspend, make a bad financial decision, or engage in compulsive shopping.
Think of meditation as a habit. It took you several years to notice and adopt the good habits that you have right now. Similarly, it would take a while before you can get used to meditation; staying committed to the habit is the primary objective.