The simple formula that will help you beat lifestyle inflation

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“I can afford it” is a thought that will stop you getting rich. It’s especially bad if it crosses your mind after you receive a raise or a new, better paid job.

Like all the most-effective lies, it is built on a destructive truth. You probably can afford whatever it is you want because you are making such a great salary here in the UAE. It’s probably also something you have always wanted. Now, it’s within your reach.

I had a teacher friend who used to pull up to work every day in a new luxury convertible. It was a very pretty car. One day I asked her about it. I thought she might be independently wealthy or have a husband making way more money than we do as teachers. But, no.

She told me something I’ve heard many times since moving to Dubai: “I figure, I’ll only be able to afford it now, while I live in Dubai, and why not live a little?” She bought it on credit, and followed that up with: “It’s probably why I’m not saving much money.”

In the financial independence world, we refer to that as “lifestyle inflation”. Basically, as you make more money, you spend more of it on nicer and nicer things – because you can afford it. There’s always something else to buy, no matter how much money you make and what you’ve bought before. Thank you capitalism.



Western lifestyle may cause blood pressure to rise with age

Close-up of a doctor measuring a patient's blood pressure.

A western lifestyle might be the reason blood pressure tends to rise with age, according to a study of remote tribal communities.

Hypertension is a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and in many developed countries, including the UK, the likelihood of developing increases with age. More than a quarter of adults in England have high blood pressure, with recent figures showing the proportion rises to 58% among those aged 65-74.

A study of remote communities in the Venezuelan rainforest has backed the idea that hypertension is not an inherent part of ageing, but a result of longer exposure to risks arising from lifestyle, such as high levels of salt in the diet, lack of exercise and heavy drinking.

Dr Noel Mueller, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University, who led the research, said: “The idea that blood pressure rises with age as part of a natural phenomenon is increasingly being dispelled through evidence, including our findings here, which show that in a population that is largely free of exposure to western influences, there is no age-related rise in blood pressure.”

Writing in the Jama Cardiology journal, Mueller and his colleagues report how they contacted two rainforest communities. One, the Yanomami, has had very little contact with the western world. The group has a hunter-gatherer-gardener lifestyle and does not eat much salt.

The other is the nearby Yekwana community, which has experienced some aspects of western life through trade facilitated by an airstrip, including commodities such as processed food and salt, as well as the presence of visitors – including missionaries, medical professionals and miners.

The team took the blood pressure of 72 Yanomami people and 83 from the Yekwana community aged between one to 60. While previous research has highlighted the low blood pressure of the Yanomami, this is the first time children were included in such work.

Yekwana participants showed an increase in blood pressure with age – albeit at a far lower level than seen in the US, for example. However, in the Yanomami community, blood pressure stayed approximately the same.

While infants in both communities had similarly low measurements, the team noted that by the age of 10, Yekwana and Yanomami children showed significant differences in blood pressure, with the divergence increasing with age.

“[That] to us indicates that interventions to prevent the rise in blood pressure and high blood pressure need to start early in life, where we can still have the opportunity to modify some of the exposures that might lead to high blood pressure,” Mueller said.

However, the study is very small – only 11 Yekwana individuals over the age of 40 took part in the research – and the research did not unpick exactly which lifestyle and diet differences might be behind the trends for age and blood pressure.

“It is unclear whether these factors fully explain the results, which may also be partly due to genetic factors,” said Dr James Sheppard, an expert in hypertension at Oxford University who was not involved in the study. He added that another problem was that the research did not measure the participants’ blood pressure as they aged, and participants were relatively young.

Prof Bryan Williams, a specialist in hypertension at University College Hospital in London, said: “[The study] gives us a glimpse at what a normal blood pressure trajectory would be like without the impact of westernisation – many more people would have a normal blood pressure throughout life.”

The hypertension seen older people in western countries such as the UK, he added, was caused by a stiffening of the large arteries. “This most likely represents some genetic predisposition but is powerfully influenced by lifestyle, as suggested by this study. It points once again to the importance of a healthy lifestyle to delay ageing of the arteries and delay the rise in blood pressure with age.”


Southern Culture And Lifestyle Magazine Garden & Gun Finds Growth Beyond The Printed Page

When you’re a print magazine and your vital signs are strong, what do you do? Enjoy the ride and thank your lucky stars that you’re bucking the secular trend of print decline? Bet the ranch on risky new investments? Or develop synergistic new events and retail initiatives?

For Garden & Gun’s Rebecca Darwin, CEO and co-founder of the magazine, it’s option three, and all initiatives come down to one strategy: Deepening the connection people have with the brand.

Founder and CEO Rebecca Darwin.Garden & Gun

Garden & Gun has become a living case study for a successful magazine in the digital age, offering rich, textured, carefully focused stories, lush layouts and striking photography on Southern culture—touching on travel, music, food, upscale hunting, literature, home, lifestyle and more, and winning three National Magazine Awards among many other forms of recognition in its 11 years of existence.

Garden & Gun, Darwin points out nearly every time she’s asked to describe it, is not a Southern magazine. It’s a national magazine about a region. And G&G has always stressed that it’s not just a print magazine—it’s a full-service media brand, encompassing print, digital, creative services and events. In fact, Garden & Gun does more than 50 events per year—everything from crafts expositions and clay-shooting competitions, to international travel tours and a Mint Julep Month for the bourbon distiller Maker’s Mark, in which G&G brought bartenders from around the South to an event in New York.

“I’m always thinking about what else would our readers like?” Darwin says. “What’s an additional touch point for the brand?” This activity has ramped up in the last 12 months especially.


  • In April, Garden & Gun opened its first-ever restaurant, the Garden & Gun Club in Atlanta. Located in The Battery Atlanta (near the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park), the restaurant seeks to bring the magazine to life.
  • The brand also expanded its online and real-world retail experiences by bringing its online retail concept Mercantile & Co. under the company’s existing Fieldshop, offering an assortment of products from makers and artisans across the South. Fieldshop now includes an e-commerce destination, a brick-and-mortar shop in The Dewberry Hotel in Charleston, and space in the Garden & Gun Club.
  • Garden & Gun‘s Made in the South Weekend just concluded at the magazine’s headquarters in Charleston. It celebrated Southern craftsmanship and makers, with live performances, panels, exclusive shopping experiences and a dinner at the historic Aiken-Rhett House.

“We still think about the reader,” Darwin says. “This obviously has grown way beyond the reader, but we look at what the different entry points are where people intersect with the brand. Our whole thinking is about deepening the relationship, not so much about broadening it as deepening.”

As important as deepening the connection is, the magazine has demonstrated some broadening in recent years as well. From 2013 to 2017, Garden & Gun’s total audited circulation, comprising both paid and verified distribution, increased by 31.8%, to 396,609. Its total paid circulation grew by nearly 100,000, to 342,656. Average newsstand sales increased as well, from 34,114 to 42,207.

Advertising has been more challenging, with print shaping up as slightly less than flat for 2018 (Darwin attributes this to the strong 10th-anniversary issue last year, saying the brand will be up slightly from 2016).

Like most print magazines, digital is a small piece of the advertising mix. “We brought on more people to work on digital and social,” Darwin says. “Year to date, we’re up about 35 percent over last year. It’s still a fairly small piece but you have to focus on it.” Not surprisingly, a lot of the digital advertising is from branded content—newsletters, agency-oriented marketing services and similar work.

“We’re having to be creative like everyone else in finding new ways to skin a cat, but we’re a very, very healthy magazine and a healthy company at this point,” Darwin says. “If you give people something that they want to read, then I definitely don’t see the end of magazines in sight. If you give them something worth taking their attention off all the noise out there, then they will.”