As we’ve climbed up and fallen down the income distribution we’ve talked a lot about how things have changed. Mostly they’ve been big things like not having to worry so much about stuff, being able to ignore (or being highly focused on) work pressures, being able to pay (or not) to make big problems go away, and then being able to pay (or not) even more to make problems go away. Really, I enjoy the lack of fear, but that started at a much lower income than what we have now (though there’s definitely been diminished stress with more savings).
Here are some things that we’ve done since DH’s re-employment now that we’re high income for which I’m a bit surprised about how much I appreciate them.
- Forgetting to get a meal receipt for a conference trip (or losing it or laundering it) is not that big a deal– I can just not submit a receipt and pay for the meal myself. $10 or even $20 is not going to break our budget, so to speak.
- TSA-PRE turns out to be pretty nice. I did not realize how much I would enjoy not taking my shoes off or taking my liquids bag out of my bag. I’m sure I will feel the same way about not taking my laptop out next time. These things are still true even when the TSA-Pre line is long. It’s not just saving time like I’d thought but also decreasing hassle. I put a lot of mental effort each time to getting everything out/off and back/on as quickly and efficiently as possible and now I no longer need to keep that mental space going.
- We’re finally getting a toll-tag for the city nearest us, even though we only go about once a month and even though we mainly only would ever use the toll-roads on the way to the airport. There are some tolls that ONLY take the electronic pass so we can’t even stop and pay taxes when we’re in a hurry (though we can get a bill later including fees for law-breaking, ask me how I know), which means we were driving on the access roads which are crowded and stop-and-go. Now we’ll be able to hop on the toll roads and just not care about the money part because the tolls aren’t high enough to matter for us.
- When I got to unexpectedly high shipping costs for a recent political thing (I bought a yard sign and t-shirt(!) for a state election), I just went, “meh, we can afford this” instead of taking it as a sign that I shouldn’t be purchasing.
- We flew out my MIL to watch the kids while we were both on work trips (using miles, so no frugal-card problems there). DH for some reason decided he had to fly out of a city that doesn’t do an airport shuttle to our town, so he has to drive his car and park it at the airport. After looking at the kids’ schedules and my schedule, I decided to spend $130 to rent a car for MIL for three days rather than having her drop me off and pick me up at work/airport/etc. Now I can park my car at the (local tiny) airport super early and drive myself home without anybody having to bundle DC2 into the car. And I don’t have to worry about explaining to her how you have to start braking waaaay in advance to get my car to stop, ditto acceleration and speeding up. My MIL demurred at the expense, but honestly, $130 is just not that big a deal for not having to worry about things. (There were a couple cheaper car rental options, but they had one star on yelp… another thing I didn’t want her to worry about.)
- We paid for valet parking at the restaurant where we took my sister out for her birthday instead of finding a (distant) lot that wasn’t full and walking.
I guess these come under two headings: Things that reduce hassle for people with money and money mistakes I used to feel guilty about.
I suppose if I were Frugal Samurai I would be thinking about the things we can’t afford to do yet and using that as “proof” that we’re not rich. (And it is true that we still couldn’t afford to buy a house in a decent school district out where he lives, even if we kept our current incomes.) But I look at these luxuries and think wow, we can do this and it doesn’t really make a dent. That’s amazing. And man, you really can buy less stress, even in these little ways. The world is set up to separate high income people from their money and to make life less pleasant for everyone else (except the current Government, which is set up to keep high income people high income while making life less pleasant for everyone else, possibly so that money can be siphoned off for private interests). #resist
How does money make your life easier?
May 28, 2018 at 6:42 am
My threshold for an anxiety-inducing expense is much higher now than it used to be. I no longer stay up at night worrying we’ll run out of money because of XYZ home expense.
May 28, 2018 at 9:41 am
That diminished fear is so nice.
May 28, 2018 at 9:37 am
I find that money has mostly been erased from my decision making process for most spending at this point. It was far more annoying needing to drop the car off for repairs and pick it up than to pay $1600 for that. We mostly do things when we want to and don’t do them if we don’t want to.
May 28, 2018 at 9:41 am
May 28, 2018 at 10:10 am
Yes! I guess that’s what happens when in one month, the normal paychecks plus bonus money equates to 12.5 months of your normal spending. Very luxurious!
May 28, 2018 at 12:41 pm
The nearest big city that has concerts that I want to attend is 4-5 hours away by car, which is a major drag. I now fly, so I can read and not have to navigate highway idiots and city traffic.
This year, we’re getting solar panels to reduce electricity costs so that that will be one less (or lowered) expenditure in retirement. The money that we will be saving while the panels are operational will go to their replacement 20-25 years down the road.
May 28, 2018 at 12:50 pm
Wow! That is pretty nice. It would be pretty amazing to just zip into the Lyric or Met etc. to catch a show.
I really want solar panels (our summer a/c bills are pretty insane), but the online google thing says our house isn’t right for it for some reason. So I wait for more efficient solar panels, and in the mean time we make sure our insulation is good and we plant trees in front of windows. :/ (We probably should get sunscreens for our windows someday but haven’t convinced ourselves to make that jump yet.)
May 28, 2018 at 1:46 pm
Well, I do basic economy when flying. It’s not worth anything better for the ~30 min. flight.
May 29, 2018 at 5:04 am
My parents had a sunscreen on their giant south facing window. That made a difference for sure. Maybe not as worth it for smaller windows, since it was a minor hassle to go out and roll down. And they had to roll up before storms or wait until the shade dried again.
May 28, 2018 at 3:05 pm
I love that idea of flying to a city that is 4-5 hours away instead of driving! My parent did that in the winter to visit their parent as they aged, to avoid the bad roads.
May 28, 2018 at 3:52 pm
I’m never stressed about big expenses. I feel that we have lots of options, which squashes all sorts of worries I may otherwise have about my job and even my husband’s chance at tenure. Money isn’t the driving factor in most decisions, which makes life really really easy.
May 28, 2018 at 5:07 pm
May 29, 2018 at 6:31 am
Here’s some calls you can make about separating children from their parents, which is happening now at the rate of 50 children/day.
May 29, 2018 at 5:25 pm
Here’s another set of scripts you can use if you don’t want the 5calls or also want to talk to more local politicians: http://icalledmyreps.weebly.com/ice—may-2018.html
May 29, 2018 at 7:28 pm
This Friday: https://actionnetwork.org/event_campaigns/families-belong-together
May 29, 2018 at 8:02 am
I love this post. Yes, money makes my life easier and more pleasant!
We have been very fortunate over the last decade or so to have good jobs, pay raises, and promotions. Having money feels… weird.
A couple of years ago, I caught myself looking at a beautiful salmon fillet at a grocery store and thinking “So expensive… I really shouldn’t” and then realizing – hey, we can afford it!
Buying organic produce at a local farmers market at 3x the price and feeling great about it.
Buying food and every-day goods without worrying that it may be cheaper at a different store (I just go to places that are convenient… or order things on-line). Actually, paying for convenience is an enormous luxury.
Paying somebody else to come and clean my house once every 3 weeks.
Nearly having a heart attack when the kids use up ALL the scotch tape in the house (or all the glue, drawing paper, markers, or any other art supplies) in a single afternoon, and then realizing that it’s OK, we can afford to buy more, and all those things are always available at the stores (I have this anxiety that once we run out of something, we’ll never be able to get more because the stores won’t have it or it will become too expensive). I still lecture the kids about not wasting things, though.
May 29, 2018 at 8:18 am
Paying for convenience is a wonderful luxury.
I love being able to get whatever I want at the grocery store!
May 29, 2018 at 11:32 am
The grocery-store thing was when I knew we had really stepped up to a different percentile. Being able to get any or everything I want that the grocery store might sell without worrying about the cost. Of course I still don’t spend a hell of a lot on groceries because I don’t buy much from the middle aisles (soft drinks and junk food are expensive!) and there’s only two of us, but the difference between organic vs non-organic milk or ground beef or produce is just completely negligible.
I still have money anxiety about the future when we can’t work any more, but quotidien expenses are no longer a concern.
May 29, 2018 at 11:47 am
It’s so amazing and so much less stressful. I remember when it mattered a lot.
May 29, 2018 at 4:51 pm
Buying expensive yogurt and not worrying about it!
May 29, 2018 at 4:56 pm
Expensive local yogurt is The Best! (Around here, anyway, YMMV.)
May 29, 2018 at 9:39 pm
I’m going to be thinking about this question really hard while I figure out a new (less luxurious) budget. I’m losing my job, but thankful that I’ll get severance for a few months, at least. It’s time to start belt-tightening as I look for my next job.
May 30, 2018 at 5:11 am
Oh no! That’s terrible! Good luck on the job search.
May 30, 2018 at 4:21 am
The biggest for me are:
No food budget
Snow plow person
Buying our garden vegetables like tomatoes in flats instead of starting everything from seed.
Paying for Massages and physical therapy when I am in pain.
But I do agree, paying through the nose for airport parking seemed like the biggest extravagance.
Early on when I first moved in with current spouse he thought it odd that I never bought tissue boxes. That was my very first shopping luxury. Puffs plus. Premium paper and cleaning products (like Tide) was an add to my lifestyle when our households merged.
Surprisingly even though our biggest money splurge is home repairs, that still doesn’t seem like a luxury to me as it has always been part of both of our lives even when we were poorer. Extra money always went to fixing some decrepit part of our house, except now instead of patching we are gutting.
May 30, 2018 at 8:25 am
I feel ya on the premium tissue paper, though, like in your case, that’s something my DH was used to, so, IIRC, we were good about CVS and Walgreens specials. (Ditto nice toilet paper.)
We’ve only owned one house, but we’ve lived in a lot of different rentals!
June 3, 2018 at 1:37 pm
I will know I am rich when I no longer have to disassemble and clean the vacuum cleaner roller. I know I’m doing better than in grad school because I no longer count on having returnable bottles to tide me over for the last few days before the paycheck (and our state doesn’t do returnables, anyway).
Other than that: I am doing better than in grad school because I can handle travel problems, in that when something goes awry with canceled flights, being stranded by snowstorms (and the airlines of course won’t pay), I know that I have a credit card and can use it–and pay it off afterwards.
June 3, 2018 at 2:15 pm
we still disassemble and clean the vacuum cleaner roller… I always thought the only alternative to that was to have everyone in the house have short hair including pets
June 3, 2018 at 8:18 pm
Another solution is to have wood floors rather than carpets and use either a dust broom or a shop vac—no rollers involved!
June 4, 2018 at 10:39 am
I do still worry about money but I am also unbelievably grateful for what we can afford. (The small things: http://agaishanlife.com/2018/03/my-little-luxuries/. The big things: http://agaishanlife.com/2018/04/our-big-luxuries/.)
I have strong memories of sitting hunched over my desk, under my tiny Target desk lamp, trying to figure out how to stretch one paycheck to cover all of the bills, and calculating how much more overtime I could work to bolster it, all while ignoring my health. I don’t ever want to have to do that again and I have been beyond fortunate so far not to have returned to that moment. I’m still paranoid, though, because that’s how Mom felt and in the end, she died without a penny to her name (though I had paid for all her expenses).
November 27, 2019 at 1:25 am
[…] best purchase we have been enjoying has been TSA Pre. I didn’t appreciate how much I would appreciate it. Similarly, I continue to be delighted to take toll-roads with a toll tag for the city nearest […]