The Slippery Slope of ‘Lifestyle Creep’ and How to Avoid It

George J. Ziogas

Smart strategies for breaking the cycle of overspending
Anastase Maragos/Unsplash

You’ve worked hard to get a great education, and you’ve toiled even harder on the job. You’ve excelled at every step of your career, and you’ve been steadily climbing the corporate ladder for many years.

Throughout your career, you’ve racked up one promotion after another, earning more and more money with every passing year. So why are you constantly broke, and why is your bank account so thin?

If you feel like you’re earning more money than ever but still struggling to make ends meet, you’re not alone. A surprising number of high earners are stuck in the same paycheck to paycheck cycle, and they find themselves one layoff away from financial disaster.

The hidden culprit behind this dilemma is lifestyle creep, and it’s all too easy to get stuck in that rut. Earning more often means spending more, and that can trap even seemingly successful career professionals in a never-ending cycle of financial stress.

Stuck on the edge between earning a great living and being broke, these high earners are at a loss. But succumbing to lifestyle creep is not a given, and there are ways out of the trap. Here are some smart strategies for breaking the cycle of overspending.

Recognize That There Will Always Be People Wealthier Than You Are

If you want to break the lifestyle creep cycle, start with the recognition that you’ll never be the wealthiest person in the world, and you’ll probably not be the richest on your block. But the fact that some people have more doesn’t mean you’ll be unhappy with a bit less. Studies have shown that once a person’s basic needs are met, increases in income provide only a marginal amount of extra happiness.

You don’t have to be Jeff Bezos to live a happy and satisfying life, and you don’t have to be a billionaire to enjoy the fruits of your labor. So stop worrying about what your neighbors have and look for ways to enjoy the amazing things you already have in your life.

Seek Out Experiences Instead of More Stuff

You could buy that shiny new Porsche, but twenty years from now it’ll probably be broken down in your driveway. So why not spend the same, or less, on a grand European vacation with your family?

You can see the German countryside where that shiny Porsche got its start, and you can even tour the factory while you’re there. And when you look back in twenty years, you’ll remember that vacation fondly, far more fondly than the costly drive out of the dealership.

Prioritizing experiences over buying more stuff is one of the most effective ways to break the cycle of overspending and being broke. Instead of filling your house with more and more, you can spend time with your family and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Recognize the Harm Your Lifestyle Is Doing to Your Kids

Those who are successful and earning a good living are often tempted to treat their kids, but a too affluent lifestyle can do young people more harm than good. Giving your kids everything they want without the effort of earning it can set unrealistic expectations and possibly set them up for future failure.

It won’t take long for those unrealistic expectations to be dashed by the realities of the working world, and a solid work ethic is one of the greatest gifts you can give the next generation. This recognition alone could be enough to break the lifestyle creep cycle once and for all.

It’s tempting to keep up with the Joneses, especially when your income affords you certain luxuries. But in the end this cycle of earning and spending more and more can be a huge trap, one that will force you to put off retirement while keeping you on the corporate treadmill.

If you really want to enjoy the fruits of your labor, spending less now could give you many extra years of retirement, allowing you to truly break free of lifestyle creep.

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HR Consultant | Life Coach | Freelance Writer | Delivering content with the reader’s interests in mind.

New York, NY

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