Lifestyle Inflation: Broke Newlyweds to Middle-Class?

by Erika Torres

When Eric and I first got married, we had very little of anything to set up house.

We had a bed, some dishes, a recliner chair, and….that was about it.

Having to fill up a whole house one-bedroom apartment is expensive. So we did the best we could, and that involved buying everything for as cheap as possible.

We got the cheapest toaster, the cheapest microwave, the cheapest blender, the cheapest trash can…and everything else we bought used.

So it was no wonder that everything started breaking right about now…


Our blender was not blending. So instead of buying another cheap blender that would break in a couple of years, we splurged for the nice Ninja blender from Costco (great return policy, btw.) with all the bells and whistles.


We were also recently gifted a new coffeepot, which replaced our used one that we inherited from my parents.

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Then, because I was sick of having a simple plain white trash that we bought from Walmart several years ago for about $12…

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We decided to upgrade to this version, which hides any incriminating evidence from your kitchen…

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But the big one–the sultan of swat, the king of crash, the colossus of clout, the GREAT BAMBINO– was the purchase of our new fridge.

It’s absolutely beautiful… and it was also sooo expensive. I think it’s one of the biggest purchases Eric and I have made in our marriage. The other most expensive thing we bought together was our TV…

Here’s what our kitchen looked like before with our used fridge that we bought for $50 when we were moving into the shack because we were SO broke. That fridge lasted us a good while, but it started making strange noises about two weeks ago and we knew it was a matter of time before it bit the bullet. Sure enough, we woke up one morning, finding all our food defrosted.

I’m so glad that we were able to buy our first fridge for $50 at the time. But now?

Now, I am perfectly content actually paying more for items that will last us a while.

I’m not sure that it counts as “lifestyle inflation” when you’re simply upgrading your lifestyle from “broke” to “middle class.”

What do you think? What have you upgraded in your life as you made more money?


Niki October 16, 2013 - 1:19 am

we got married last year and we were broke too! So we bought only necessary things like fridge and cooker, bed…we were smart about what to buy! we got kitchen table but we didn’t buy sofa! now after 10 months we just bought one! and god it feels good! I am not sure when we can buy a TV!?!

Emily October 9, 2013 - 7:16 pm

You won’t reget the ninja! It’s the best and I wondered if a really pricey blender would seem any different….let me tell you, there’s a serious difference!

Tammy October 8, 2013 - 3:40 am

Wow. Now this is something I analyze in my head a lot when making a purchase that’s heavy on the pocket and good on performance. My husband tends to go overboard and buy the best possible item, not caring that branded items charge a good amount of premium, but I am more of a miser, happy to pay for ‘acceptable’ quality that gets the job done…I’m not sure who compromises in the end, maybe we both do…

Shannon October 7, 2013 - 8:53 am

#1, I love a sandlot reference.
#2, Your arms look jacked in that photo, Miss Lady!

We’ve recently upgraded to a for-real dining room set. Complete with fabric placemats and napkins. It makes me feel very grown.

Bad Things Happen in Threes | Newlyweds on a Budget October 7, 2013 - 4:29 am

[…] « Lifestyle Inflation: Broke Newlyweds to Middle-Class? […]

Budget and the Beach October 6, 2013 - 3:08 pm

Nice fancy fridge! I feel recently I’ve actually been downgrading!!! I did just buy a new bookshelf to replace the leaning tower bookshelf online at walmart for $30, but I’m pretty sure it’s cheaper than what I bought the Ikea one for 13 years ago.

One Frugal Girl October 5, 2013 - 7:15 pm

We upgraded our ’99 Camry to a ’13 Highlander. Actually my husband still drives that car to work, but I can now get my son in and out of a much bigger, more comfortable vehicle. The first time I drove it around it felt so strange. After driving 10 year old cars for so long it felt very unnatural to have something so new.

Catherine October 5, 2013 - 4:27 pm

I love this and totally understand where you’re coming from! I’m also done buying crappy cheap products!

ps- that is one sexy fridge!

Michelle's Finance Journal October 4, 2013 - 7:04 am

Your apartment doesn’t come with appliances? Well, your fridege is nice~ You guys are obviously in a better financial condition. Great job!

dojo October 4, 2013 - 2:31 am

We were always careful with the appliances we buy. I never buy unknown brands or the cheapest thing. They usually break (and I seem to have a huge luck with this). I always saved for these (at least these weren’t bought on credit) and purchased decent appliances. Sure, I don’t buy Miele or top of the line brands, but I do get good reliable brands. And they last quite well. I don’t think we had to change anything yet and some are at least 10 years old already.

Sally October 3, 2013 - 11:28 pm

That picture captures this whole post. I don’t buy as much stuff as I used to, and instead buy better quality like you mentioned. My blender refuses to quit but when it finally does I’m going for the Vitamix!

E.M. October 3, 2013 - 6:35 pm

The garbage pail and fridge look nice together! My boyfriend and I recently moved in together, and since my parents were moving away and barely taking anything with them, we inherited a lot. It doesn’t bother me because right now we don’t need anything fancy. Most of the stuff we got was used but it has already lasted my parents quite some time so I hope things continue to work until we are ready to upgrade. I think if we ever buy a house, that would be the time to splurge on quality.

Island Girl October 3, 2013 - 5:47 pm

Very nice fridge! We bought a very similar one to yours after many years of using whatever our rental units came with. But when we bought our first home last year we were ready for the nice upgrade. Enjoy!

CeCe @Frugalista Married October 3, 2013 - 4:28 pm

I think it depends on how everything was paid for and the affect it has on your finances. If you can afford nicer things that will last and make life easier I think it’s perfectly wonderful to do so. If you cannot afford nicer things that won’t last and have to throw it on a credit card and worry about how you are going to pay for it then it is not. I have a pretty good feeling you two made smart choices so I say it’s a okay. I LOVE our stainless fridge. I never thought I’d call a refrigerator beautiful or a TV for that matter!!! But they so are. Even your Ninja and laundry baskets look pretty!!!

SavvyFinancialLatina October 3, 2013 - 1:00 pm

Your rental doesn’t come with a fridge? Interesting.
When we first got married, we were pretty broke and didn’t buy a lot. Some things I brought from my college apartment, other things were handed down, other things were gifted, other things were bought really cheaply.

We recently bought a new tempurpedic bed. It’s amazing, while expensive. But we really needed to upgrade. I, also, just bought two new couch seats because they were super comfy.

Michelle October 3, 2013 - 12:25 pm

Love your fridge! We have definitely made some upgrades over the years. We have a nice fridge now. A nice bed, nice couches and so on!

Courtney October 3, 2013 - 11:16 am

I can totally relate. As I make more, I’m slowly replacing the initial things too. Like this weekend, I bought a $22 plunger, which I would’ve never done before now – but it’ll be worth it.

Akirah October 3, 2013 - 10:55 am

Congrats! I can relate to this a bit. Dan and I closed on our home/building Tuesday. HOORAY! Also, we’re not sure how much longer our washer will last, but we’re gonna buy a nice one, rather than search for a freebie. We have a ways to go with our debt and such, but we’re better off than we were a year ago.

Erin @ My Alternate Life October 3, 2013 - 10:48 am

That’s a gorgeous fridge!

We’ve always had fridges and microwaves in our apartments. This one doesn’t have a microwave, so we’ve learned to do without. We did this whole thing the opposite way. We tried to live middle class and now we’re accepting that we need to live broke until we get our debt load down. Congrats on the well deserved upgrades :).


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