Through observation of myself, my colleagues, and reports from other physicians through the grapevine, I’ve compiled a list of examples of lifestyle inflation that occurs among professionals who ultimately grow into their incomes. Some are modest. Others, not so much. What large expenditures have you witnessed or are actually guilty of in your growing lifestyle?
- Purchase of a large television. This is not uncommon, especially with “curved” TVs, super-hi def LEDs, surround sound systems, and home theater systems. Costs can range from $4999 for a “modest” flat LED set to $20,000 for a home theater with reclining movie theater seats and surround sound projector system.
- Fancy car. This is also not uncommon. It seems like every other new residency/fellowship grad springs for a new set of wheels. I actually have a tough time assessing whether this lifestyle inflation is simply due to a sudden increase in income or longstanding family money that they were hesitant to flaunt during training. I was shocked to see one of my cardiology friends spring for an $125,000 Mercedes AMG within a month out of fellowship, but I suppose that his income can still support the car through a lease. Cars I’ve seen out of training include an $80,000 Tesla Model S and a used Lambo (no idea how much that would cost).
- Increased restaurant tabs. Again, a common finding among everyone I know. Weekly $20 beer tabs (alcohol only) grow to $50 a week, along with eating out for lunch every day, and Michelin star restaurants on a regular basis. There is probably some satisfaction in building a refined taste in food, but that easily can grow your waist as well.
- Fancier grocery purchases. It starts from eating store-brand yogurt in medical school to Fage in residency, to Noosa as an attending. Waist inflation will come with eating Whole Foods $24.99/lb salmon and $49.99/lb special grocery store porterhouses.
- Fancy furniture for a fancy home. You can really go crazy in this category. Think interior designer mandated custom dining rooms with marble-top formal dining tables with chairs starting at $2000 apiece. Lawn design with feng shui elements that cost $60,000.
- Upgraded work and formal attire. Add in a couple pairs of Loubutin’s, several sets of $300 work outfits, fine jewelry, custom dress shirts and suits, and you’ve got a money pit in your wardrobe. Worst yet, these costs are easily recurring as you cycle through new outfits.
- Upgraded outfits for your kids. Children’s clothing is big business, especially at the age where kids will easily outgrow their clothing. A hip outfit including a baseball cap, t-shirt, shorts, socks, and shoes from Under Armour for your 5-year old can easily run you $200! Don’t worry, he’ll outgrow it after a year or even sooner when he gets new clothing a few weeks later.
These expenses actually aren’t morally reprehensible if you actually have a self-propagating bankroll to fund it, but I find it hard to imagine that any of these expenses translate into true happiness.
What other lifestyle inflation examples have you experienced?
(Photo courtesy of Flickr)