Lifestyle inflation tempts people to spend money to solve their problems. You can afford to throw out pants with holes in them, so why fix them? For starters, you miss out on learning useful skills.
As personal finance blog Pretend to Be Poor explains, when you’re broke, you have to find creative solutions to problems that often require learning new skills. When your clothes rip, fixing them is cheaper than buying new ones. When your apartment is tiny, you find new ways to conserve space. Learn to fold your clothes more efficiently rather than buy bigger luggage. Many problems can be solved by buying something that fixes it for you, but those things won’t teach you new skills:
Some people feel excited when they find the next new product that will make their life easier. Don’t get me wrong, I love my microwave and dishwasher. But others seek accomplishment in spending less, and this often results in becoming more useful. For example, I love Indian food, but I don’t love spending money at restaurants. So I’m learning to make Indian food. Neil enjoys riding his bike because it’s free exercise and saves on transportation costs. For both of us these money-saving measures are enjoyable in part because we feel accomplished after a challenge.
Finding a DIY solution isn’t always about finding the most cost-effective way of doing something. Indeed, some things may never be worth the effort. However, in many cases, the skills you can learn by trying to do something the cheap way can be far more worthwhile in the long run, not just to your budget, but to making you a more useful, capable person in general.