I used this term in an earlier post, but didn't explain what I had in mind. I have read various references recently to 'lifestyle inflation" meaning the tendency for one's spending requirements to expand with a growing income. I have been thinking back to when we first started working, ten years' ago, and had two small incomes, yet felt better off in many ways, and certainly much less cluttered up by life, than we do now.
Part of it is of course the benefit of hindsight, but I also think that our expectations and needs were much less, and simpler, than what we have become used to as the years have gone on.
Life was not entirely simple back then; we had a house, but it was brand new and low-maintenance, and contained IKEA furniture, some books, a few clothes, and not much "stuff". We had a car, but only one, and lived close enough to work for me to walk there. (Not an advantage in every respect.) We still lived a student-y lifestyle, and our tastes in meals out, clothes, food and furnishings were less sophisticated - possibly in a good way - than now.
Something I have been trying recently is to intentionally deflate our lifestyle. I've reduced my clothes allowance - only just, so cannot yet report on how painful, or manageable, this will be - and will be trying out a much cheaper hairdresser than usual. (I had been going to a lovely hairdresser, but the cost was high.) We are intentionally eating out less than had become our habit. So far, I do not feel deprived, but we will see how it goes. I definitely think that there is an element of habit in many of these expenses. While I do not want us to feel deprived I think, like the routine of buying lunch mentioned elsewhere, that it is possible for something which should be a treat to become an everyday "need", and then it is no longer appreciated, and just leads to further treats seeming normal.