3 Tips for Saying No To Lifestyle Creep
Lifestyle creep is when your income increases and things that you used to look at as luxuries now seem to be necessities. This is a very real phenomena. And it probably affects you to some extent.
If you’re spending more money at 35 than you did at 25, then you are a victim of lifestyle creep.
But, BB, you say. At 25 I was making 30K, living with two roommates, and driving a POS hand-me-down from my brother.
True. But what happened when you were promoted and you started making 40k. Did you get a place by yourself?
When you started making 50K did you buy a house? Or a new car?
The fact of the matter is that your lifestyle expenses were slightly creeping upward this entire time.
I’m a victim of it. When my husband and I bought our house we were both in lower paying jobs, making about 40% less than we were now. But we could afford our house and our car payment and have a couple date nights a month, just fine.
Now, we’re making significantly more and there are definitely months when I look around and ask, “Where did all our money go?”
Most months our checkbook seems a little light, it’s because my sneaky automated savings tools are doing their job. Money is funneling into savings accounts, SmartyPigs, Digit, and Acorns.
But some months I’m whipping out the AmEx and going “What the hell? When did our spending get so out of control?”
So, how can we avoid this phenomena? Can we stop lifestyle creep from taking a hold of us? I’d argue yes. We can.
Here are a few tips for keeping the creep at bay.
1. If you get a raise, or a promotion, or a new job – pretend like that money doesn’t exist.
Let’s say that you get a 3% raise at your performance review. Instead of absorbing that money into your monthly budget, up your 401K contributions by 3%. That money will never be missed because you won’t ever see it in you checking account.
2. Audit your spending
Is there something you started spending money on in the last few years that you used to be perfectly fine without?
I know for me, and a lot of my friends, subscription type services have become really popular. I pay for one subscription now and that’s my Audible subscription. But there were times when I had a lot of monthly expenses going on for things I definitely didn’t need! Subscription boxes are really popular and I had signed up for a bunch of them. $10 or $20 a month doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up fast. And it’s a recurring expense you didn’t have before. It’s the creep in full force.
3. Try not to compare yourself to other people.
One of the biggest components to lifestyle creep is the “keeping up with the Joneses” aspect to it. You feel as if you need a bigger house or a better car because people of your financial status have those things.
But those things don’t make people happy. Not really. For about 6-8 months last year I was on a kick where I was attempting to convince my husband I needed to move closer to work. My commute can be brutal and I wanted to cut it down. But to move closer to work we’d either have to downsize our house or purchase a much more expensive house. Could we afford a more expensive house? Absolutely. But do we need one? Not at all.
Snapping myself out of this mindset that I needed a bigger or nicer or more expensive home because I was making more money was hard. I’m not immune to the green-eyed monster and sometimes I just want marble counters and a big pool in my backyard. But I’m doing just fine without those things and those are definite luxuries I do not need.
Lifestyle Creep is insidious. It sneaks up on you and before you even notice you are ensnared in its grasp. Being aware of the ways in which you’ve already been affected by lifestyle creep will, hopefully, help you avoid it in the future.
Have you had your own struggles with lifestyle creep? When did you realize it was an issue for you? Tell me about it in the comments!