So my husband and I often joke about what we call the “upgrade creep.” This is the idea of how easily you can begin to take everything to the next level. It is a gradual process; at least, it has been with us, occurring over the last six years.
Things that fall within the upgrade creap:
- Basic cable to digital cable with DVR
- Drug Store shampoo to salon shampoo, conditioner, and multiple styling products
- Splurging on expensive shoes
- Gap jeans to Lucky Jeans to Sevens for all Mankind
- Budlight to Blue Moon
- Take out three times a week instead of one
- Cellphone to Blackberry to iPhone?
Unfortunately, this upgrade creep can have an effect on your monthly expenses. A couple of months ago, my husband and I decided that we wanted to re-examine our luxuries. We promised that we would each give up two things that we could justify as being expendable. But we ran into a problem. We have become so accustomed to these little luxuries that neither one of us could determine what to get rid of. I thought it was an interesting exercise, to think about what you want versus what you really need.
I would say that we are still a work in progress, but certainly we are more aware of keeping the status quo and not continuing to “upgrade” everything.
Are there any Smarty readers out there who have gone through the same experience?
What a relevant and eye-opening article! The upgrade creep really does creep up on you, hitting you hard in the pocketbook. With the way things are, we all need to reevaluate. We’ve been talking about it but haven’t put our money where our mouths are or rather…back in our wallets. As I look back over the years the Suave shampoo and cuts at HairCuttery have been replaced with trips and “product” from the salon…I’m embarrassed to admit that even my daughter just had her first visit to my favorite salon. Target attire (even the basics..underwear and socks) for Gymboree/Gap, local chinese hole in the wall for more up-scale take-out, frame warehouse when really a frame from Michael’s would do…the list goes on and on and on. (The only place we get a break from his our DVR but only because my husband works for TWC!) Thanks for giving this excessive indulgence a name. Don’t they say identifying the problem can be part of the sollution?
Oh I so know what you mean!! My husband and I decided to buy an HD TV a couple years ago. Little did I know the upgrade creep that would ensue! An HD TV doesn’t do much good if you don’t have HD Direct TV … and then you need to upgrade your DVR to be HD compatible otherwise your favorite shows won’t record in HD. Then you need to upgrade your DVD player so you can watch your movies in HD too! And if you’re going that far, you might as well upgrade your stereo too so it sounds as good as it looks … and then there’s the speakers … need I say more??? whew! Luckily it’s been spread out over a couple years, so not such a big hit all at once, but once you go HD, there’s no going back!!
my husband read a book about how we will splurge on some things and on others, we are cheap. I think it’s called Trading Up. It’s not the big things that bust your budget but the small monthly things that do. Do we really need voice mail at home and on our cell? Is name brand always better than store brand? I’m becoming much more aware as the economy struggles and i see friends loosing jobs!
what a great topic! yes. It’s amazing how you fall into these habits and get accustomed to them. Eating out has been our big spending/savings. Now we go out to eat less, but when we do it’s more special. I’m cooking more at home, and enjoy it. it’s relaxing and we don’t need to pay for a sitter. as for hair product, I still buy nice stuff, but buy on sale or from an internet discount place. thanks for writing about this Jen
This topic is so relelvant to me right now. We recently cut our income in half when I quit my job at “the bank” to work PT for the children’s ministry at my church and stay home with our baby. I have never really been into designer label clothes, but hair products are another story! My hair is my thing. I was getting my hair cut every 3 mos at an Aveda salon uptown. I am embarassed to say I have not had my hair cut since she was born- she is over 8 months old now! I’ve also stopped buying all Aveda products and am having a hard time deciding what to use now from Target. (I did just see that a new Aveda salon is opening really close to where I live… hmmm… maybe a junior stylist won’t be too expensive). The other thing I miss is eating out and Starbucks. Its a treat now, and I don’t get the expensive lattes anymore, just coffee… which is better than nothing. I am even considering making coffee here at home, but I have never made it before and don’t know what kind to buy! We have found many ways to save, and I continue to look and be creative. I try to remember all that I am blessed with, and not to focus on the things I miss- which is not always easy. I am still getting used to this new lifestyle but I wouldn’t trade it for anything, not even a day at the spa.
Would love to see more articles about how to save money, invest your money or spend your money wisely and not be so focused on what boutiques to buy kids clothes at or things like that. Especially with all that has been happening in the past month I think we all need to look at our priorities and figure out what we really need and what things that we can skip out on. It drives me crazy to hear the stories of people who shop at the best stores, have all the newest gadets and yet are worried about how they are going to pay their bills or if they are going to make their mortgage. We need to stop being such consumers, stop buying things for show, stop running up the credit cards, stop buying houses that even though the bank said you could buy it does not mean that you should buy it, and get back to the basics. I think articles like that would be more helpful.
The equation for saving $ has never changed, regardless of the economic times we face. The bottom line is, if you can’t afford it, then you don’t need it. Cut up your credit cards and use cash if that’s what it takes. Take responsibility for your own actions, folks. It’s not rocket science.BTW, what’s wrong with these Smarty ladies highlighting a good deal once in a while? If you read more often, you’d find quite a few good money-saving ideas.
This is a great article, and too many times "luxuries" are mistaken for "necessities". I envy my friend whose family does not have cable–we are ridiculed for not having a DVR. Second-hand clothing from ebay (brand names too!) is perfect for my 6 year old, and my husband & I shop the sales racks at our favorite stores–4-5 times a year, not every week. When you don't allow the luxuries to stretch your budget beyond what it really should be, you don't cringe at the thought of having to give them up. Our daughter has a fabulous start on her college education, and we have a nice cushion in the bank 'just in case'–just because you bring the money home doesn't mean it has to be spent. ALSO–Christmas is coming up–it's ridiculous to spend hundreds of dollars on 1 child. Help someone who really needs it, especially in these tough times. What one spends their money on shows what is truly important in their life.
Great article. We blame Wall Street and the big banks for their faults when in actuality, we are spending outside our means (self included). Speaking of Christmas, two friends and I are hosting an alternative giving party for the holidays. Instead of giving gifts, give a gift of charity in honor of your family, friends, teachers, etc. Check us out http://livesmallgivebig.wordpress.com.
…would love to see more articles on ways for young families to save money… i don’t want to deprive my children of any joys but i am sure there are lots of ways we can find special things to do, eat, wear, etc, that are bargains… this ‘new economy’ has everyone wondering how to adjust…
We were just talking about this at book club the other day and different ways to save money. Since our family seems to be on the go so much, especially on the weekends, I try and pack our lunches before we leave the house so that we don’t need to run through the fast food line.Clipping coupons out of the paper has been very helpful, especially when Harris Teeter has their triple coupon weekend. On some items, you can almost get them for free once the coupon has been tripled.Try your neighborhood garage sales as well. My children picked out tons of toys and books, some in mint condition, for a grand total of $5.00 recently. And for all online purchases, I do a coupon code search before buying. I almost always find some sort of discount, whether it be free shipping or a certain amount off of my purchase. Every little bit helps!
These are all great ideas, I love hearing all the ideas that people have about ways to save, especially with all that is going on right now. I have always tried to buy a season ahead for my kids, will hit the sales at the end of a season for the following year and have usually done pretty well with guessing what size we would need. Chocolate soup usually has great end of the year sales and they are super about returns so that if they have grown too much to fit in something that I bought the season before they will return it as long as it has tags on for a store credit. Would love to see more articles with other ideas of how people save or good ways that people earn a little extra cash.