How to NOT Save Half Your Income

The following is Anne’s response to the Save Half Movement. If the idea of saving half your income elicits a response from you (either positive OR negative), let me know! Let’s keep the conversation going!

How to Not Save Half of Your Income


Do you watch the show Criminal Minds? It comes with a healthy dose of eye candy, if you don’t.  On the show, they will sometimes ask people to close their eyes and think back to when an event occurred.  I would like you to do the same with me.  (Basically, this was all an excuse to include a photo of Shemar Moore, you’re welcome.)

Now that you have your eyes closed, and yet you can still magically read this post, think back to a few years ago, when your income was decidedly lower and so was your spending.  This may be when you were in school, for example.  Of note: this won’t work very well if your expenditures used to be very high and you’ve now got things under control.

Picture with me what you used to eat, and where you were when you ate it.  Is it the same things that you eat now?  Was it healthy?  Could you make it healthier?  How much did it cost?  I know that in my case, I spend a LOT more on groceries and food than I used to.  Some of it is because I want to, but even then, I could make decisions which cost a lot less.  This is an area where it is easy to let your spending get out of control, letting lifestyle inflation make groceries a key part of how not to save half your income.

Now look around the room, as it used to be.  How much stuff did you own then?  Was it a lot less than you do currently?  That’s what I thought.  Did you still find ways to have fun and to fill your time?  Yes, some things are nice to have, but honestly, most of us could probably sell 25% of our possessions and not really miss them.  When I was a student, I would comparison shop at 3 stores before buying a $5 spatula, in part because I had more time than money.  However, adding that one spatula was growing the “stuff I own” pile by a fair bit.  Today, if I saw a good deal on one, I would chuck it in my grocery basket and keep going, because obviously three spatulas is better than one, even though that fancy silver hole in the middle of my kitchen (the sink) allows me to get along just fine with a single spatula.

Back then, did you pause a bit more before heading out to a restaurant, buying some concert tickets or picking up a coffee because you were too lazy to make it yourself?  Do you find that your cognizance of money and attitude towards it is rather different than back then?  I know that I do.

One more thing to pause and consider, which is a bigger contributor to how to not save half your income – Adulting costs.  I am talking about that cell phone bill that your parents generously paid for you for a bit, or the car you upkeep and insure to go to work, or the disability and life insurance you have now.  Oh, and the kids.  Kids definitely mean current you has more expenses than old-you.  Some more things that stop you from saving half your income?  Sending out your own Christmas cards, paying bank fees (often avoidable), getting fancier haircuts, gifts for family and friends that cost a lot more than they used to.

What did past-you do when attending a wedding?  Buy new clothes or shoes, spring for your own hotel room, agree to go to the destination wedding, get your nails done?  Mmmhmm, I didn’t think so.

The “lifestyle inflates” conversation happens a whole lot, but I would invite you to take five minutes and think about what your attitudes, purchases and actions used to be like, back then and compare them to what they are today.  You might find a few things that you can change, to make sure you’re not in the camp that only knows how to not save half your income.  Join us on the other side!

Now, you can open your eyes.  The magical see-through-eyelid time is done ;-)

[Photo – Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike – Georges Biard]

Author Bio:  Anne spends a lot of time writing about gifts for adults, for all occasions, over at her blog Unique Gifter.  She comes up with creative ways to add personality to registry gifts and to give gifts when your budget is tight.  She also spends way too much time on twitter, you can too!


  1. says

    Lifestyle inflation has definitely gotten the best of my in the past years. However, new me is really trying to reign in the spending and stick with what I already own or have. As tempting as it was last summer to move into a rental house (because I want a yard really badly!) we postponed the move and are sticking out our current living situation for another year and a half.

  2. says

    Thanks for this post – I really related to it. Me and my friends were discussing how we all feel so much poorer these days when we all have well paid jobs in comparison to when we were at university. I think it was easier at Uni, as you were almost expected to be poor, so I wouldn't think twice about having beans on toast for every meal for a week, now I wouldn't dream of doing that…which is probably why my grocery bill has quadrupled!!

    • Anne - Unique Gifter says

      My grocery bill has quadrupled as well! I used to eat a lot of 99 cent tomato sauce and whole wheat pasta, and grilled cheese sandwiches. I sure don't anymore! I hear you about feeling poorer despite not being at all.

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