Lifestyle creep has been on my mind lately. I spent many years not upgrading at all, but now have moved into a controlled lifestyle upgrade. Lifestyle upgrade isn’t an enemy to me, it’s actually my ultimate goal. Lifestyle creep is what I’m on guard for.
What’s the difference between lifestyle upgrade and lifestyle creep? Lifestyle upgrade is a conscious choice. It’s something you budgeted for and brings you greater satisfaction and quality in your life. Lifestyle creep is something not consciously chosen and is more related to unconscious social pressure. Lifestyle creep is a tick that sucks the blood from you and hopes you don’t notice it’s there.
For example, after five years of living in the cheapest apartments I could find, I’ve decided to budget for a nicer apartment. It has brought me so much greater quality of life. It’s quiet, clean, spacious. There are palm trees right outside my patio. I have A/C, washer and dryer (a big deal, you know, if you’ve lived in Silicon Valley or the Bay Area), a nice gym on site, pools, etc. To me the upgrade was worth it. It was something I had planned to do eventually. I don’t want money just to have money; I want money for a sustainable greater quality of life.
Now that I’m in my nice apartment, I noticed the tick of lifestyle creep trying to latch on to my subconscious. Everyday I pull my used Toyota passed an endless parking lot of new Teslas, Mercedes, and BMWs. I almost missed the tick trying to latch on. I started mentally thinking, “could I afford a nicer car?”. Why is this thought a lifestyle creep tick? Because even if I could afford it, upgrading my car is way down on my conscious quality of life upgrades. Lifestyle creep is trying to push it to the top. My next raise is reserved for increasing my retirement savings and maybe more yoga classes or increasing my travel budget, a new car is way down on my list.
Another example is I’ve budgeted for yoga classes on the nice side of town. I found myself noticing the bougie yogis all wearing Lululemon. Without much thought, I started finding myself on Lululemon’s website considering $58 tank tops. There’s nothing against Lululemon or luxury cars, my point is, it’s not something high on my list of things I want in my life. For you, lifestyle creep could be different, maybe you budgeted for a luxury car, but upgrading your apartment isn’t a priority. So you may want to be on guard for feeling like you need to change neighborhoods to match your car.
In conclusion, lifestyle upgrades can be a welcome part of our wealth building journey, just be on guard for lifestyle creep.
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