It Starts Innocently Enough…

This is a guest post from Sheryl in Ontario, who is 40 years old with a grown daughter, and is trying to rebuild her retirement dream just 20 years too late for early retirement.

To put it bluntly, I have had a week from hell.

In my full time job, there is a person who will be leaving soon, so I have had to find and begin training a new person (which I’m finding that the older I get, the less patience I have for it), also there was an issue with another employee I had to be involved with that was very stressful. My part time gig is par for the course, but still requires a time commitment, and also my father (he’s 82 and hasn’t been doing well for the last 6 months) has been in and out and back into hospital, and being the only child local, my parents rely on me to help in these situations. Needless to say, I leave my house at 7:30 am and don’t get home to start making dinner or anything else until after 9:00 pm. I’m not whining or complaining, it is what it is and it will get better.

Something I have noticed,  is that while life is crazy for a short time, I don’t feel bad about buying a few take out meals or convenience foods to take a little pressure off the maintenance of my own life. I’ve been buying store bought yogurt instead of making my own, grabbing a slice of pizza when I’m hungry instead of having something already prepared at home that I can take with me, buying ready to eat salads instead of chopping the lettuce and veggies myself, etc. I know these are small things and I’ve been thankful they are available when my time gets consumed by other events.

Where does it stop though? Where is my reminder when the crisis is over to go back to my usual ways?  Previously, I think I would resume when I’d notice I was running out of money, which may have taken a month or so. This time, is almost seems like I’ve separated the money from the activity. It bugs me that I’m using store bought items. I could get used to doing it easily enough, but I don’t want to. Right now it is still uncomfortable to be doing things differently, and I’m thinking I should use that discomfort as the catalyst to get back to what is normal for me.

What causes lifestyle creep in your life?  How or when do you notice it?

3 thoughts on “It Starts Innocently Enough…”

  1. It stops when you want it to stop. If you know that you’re letting time pressures cause you to spend more than usual, then it’s time to plan a default behavior that won’t be circumvented by convenience.

  2. Having discipline is excellent, after all that is the exact attribute needed to retire early! However, being too harsh to oneself can truly do harm physically and emotionally. During my first year of retirement, I offered to help a friend with temporary disability, I volunteered at a long term care centre, and then very unforturnately, later found that my mom needed frequent visits to the hospital and the doctor’s office. I was drained and unhappy. My stiff neck and shoulder pain worsened even though I thought they would go away after retirement, and are still with me today!

    I figure finding a balance comfortable to oneself is exremely important. Do not stress out too much otherwise you would lose interest and energy to continue.

  3. I notice it when it becomes noticeable — i.e. the situation that required that workaround has changed/gone away and I’m back to “normal” life. I may even decide that this new “bad” habit is actually freeing me up for other more valuable or value-add activities. Doesn’t mean I’ll carry on always buying cut-up vegetables (or homemade soup or single-serve whatevers), but when you have to haul potable drinking/food prep water as I do, maybe it’s better in the long run to buy cut-up vegetables from local market vendors (rarely the grocery store = higher cost), give them an adequate rinse and carry on eating rather than going through a lot more water rinsing vegetables and subsequent dish-washing.

    I was surprised when living in Italy almost 15 years ago and shopping in their open air morning markets how many vendors had pre-cut vegetables and pre-mixed soup mixes available by the etto (100 grams). Turns out real Italian kitchens are TINY (nothing like what you see in movies) and refrigeration was/is still something of a novelty mainly because electricity costs are stratospherically high. But I sure did appreciate the convenience and brought that appreciation back here with me.

    Maybe I’m going into more detail than required for this post, but it’s about taking account of how ALL the little things add up and/or even out over the year. But I still make Italian cappuccino in a cafetiere every morning and take it with me in a large to-go mug. Saves me $5 to $10 every day I’m out of the house.

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