What is Lifestyle Creep?

Lifestyle creep is something that’s simple to define, easy to see, yet hard to avoid. Especially prevalent amongst young professionals, lifestyle creep is a hurdle many face in saving for their short- and long-term goals, like retirement. Below we’ll discuss what exactly lifestyle creep is and four ways you can work to avoid it.

What Is Lifestyle Creep?

Lifestyle creep is the idea that as your income rises, so does your spending. It’s often a naturally occurring financial issue, typically taking place gradually over long periods of time.

For example, if someone’s yearly salary rises from $40,000 to $50,000, they may be inclined to eat out more, take an extra vacation, update their wardrobe, move to a new apartment, etc. The problem with lifestyle creep is the lack of putting that extra income toward retirement and spending it all instead. That means that while someone is earning more, they’re not saving more.

Four Ways to Avoid Lifestyle Creep

If you’ve fallen victim to lifestyle creep, you’re not alone. And there are ways in which you can work to combat this financial phenomenon year-after-year.

Way #1 Compare Your Personal Inflation Rate to the CPI

An effective way to figure out if you’ve succumbed to lifestyle creep is to figure out your personal inflation rate and compare it to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is the inflation rate set by the government.

Take a look at your spending from last year. Say, for example, that you spent around $60,000 last year, and this year you spent around $65,000. Your personal inflation rate from last year would be 8.2 percent. If the inflation rate from last September to this September was 1.5 percent, we can easily see your spending is well beyond simple inflation adjustments. That’s a pretty big sign that you’ve experienced lifestyle creep.

Way #2 Make a Budget

The big thing to understand about lifestyle creep is that it’s different for everyone because it’s all relative to how much you make versus how much you keep. If you’re increasing your spending significantly but still putting a sufficient amount away towards your savings and retirement, then you aren’t outspending your earnings. A good way to do this and avoid lifestyle creep is to make a budget. Building a budget and tracking your spending is an eye-opening way to see where all the money is going and how easily small purchases can turn into significant spending.

Way #3 Plan For Your Next Promotion

Seeing your paycheck increase significantly after a promotion or salary increase is exciting and exhilarating. But if you go into a significant salary increase without a plan, that extra cash could start burning a hole in your bank account. Before temptation strikes, come up with a game plan for your new earnings. Decide what percentage of your increase you’ll be putting directly into savings and how much you’ll be leaving as new discretionary income. Move forward with your plan as soon as the increase goes into effect, making the transfer into savings automatic if possible. This way, you won’t even have to decide month after month whether to save or spend.

Way #4 Don’t Forget to Enjoy Your Earnings

You work hard for promotions and salary increases, and you should get to reap the reward of your efforts. Don’t try to deprive yourself completely when you receive a pay increase, especially when you’re creating a new budget that’s adjusted for your new salary. Give yourself a little wiggle room to spend, and practice spending with intention. For example, instead of making a couple of impulse purchases here and there, save that extra money to spend on a weekend trip with your loved one.

Lifestyle creep can occur so effortlessly that you don’t even know you’ve experienced it until you look back and assess your previous spending. And while receiving more money month-after-month is exciting, the key is to focus on saving what you need to for retirement and other large financial goals before spending your extra earnings.

DISCLOSURE: Source: Twenty Over Ten. Past performance is not indicative of future results. For informational purposes only. Not intended as legal or investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security or strategy. Information prepared from third-party sources is believed to be reliable though its accuracy is not guaranteed. Opinions expressed in this commentary reflect subjective judgments of the author based on conditions at the time of writing and are subject to change without notice. For more information about Wealthquest, including our Form ADV Part 2A Brochure, please visit https://adviserinfo.sec.gov or contact us at 513-530-9700.

Subscribe to our blog, podcast and video library.

We promise to never share your information.

Share this post with your friends

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Invest In Your Life. We’ll Do The Rest.

Discover a new approach to wealth management where your investments, tax preparation, and estate planning services are offered by one team of fiduciary experts, all under one roof, for one simple fee. Wealthquest is a fee-only financial planning and wealth management firm focused on the integration of your life and finances. Regardless of your account size or stage of life, our firm can help.

Cincinnati

50 E-Business Way
Suite 120
Cincinnati, OH 45241

T: 513.530.9700
F: 513.530.9776
info@wqcorp.com

Mon – Thur 8AM – 5PM
Friday 8AM – 12PM
Sat – Sun Closed

MAP

Chicago

2211 York Rd
Suite 210
Oak Brook, IL 60523

T: 630.581.3580
F: 513.530.9776
info@wqcorp.com

Mon – Thur 8AM – 5PM
Friday 8AM – 12PM
Sat – Sun Closed

MAP

Scroll to Top

Building your rich life starts with a simple conversation.

Please fill out this form and a Wealthquest Advisor will be in touch with you soon.

Not a fan of forms? We totally get it.

Give us a call or shoot us an email anytime.

Cincinnati

Tel: 513.530.9700
Fax: 513.530.9776
info@wqcorp.com

Chicago

T: 630.581.3580
F: 513.530.9776
info@wqcorp.com