Manisha’s MoneyZen Blog

3 Signs You are Suffering from Lifestyle Creep

Do you ever feel like your possessions are holding you hostage? Or perhaps that you’ve bitten off more stuff than you can chew?  If you’ve ever suffered the pangs of financial indigestion, you may be one of the millions of Americans suffering from… lifestyle creep.

What is Lifestyle Creep?

Not to be confused with “Keeping Up with The Joneses,” lifestyle creep occurs when the more you have, the more you think you need. Here’s an example. You get a new pair of pants. But they don’t go with your old shoes. So you have to get a new pair. Then your bottom half looks so spiffy you feel the need for fresh top. In this dandy outfit, however, you no longer look so good in your old clunker of a car so… well, you get the point. Here are 3 signs that “the creep” might be happening to you:

1. You have a public storage unit. An amazing 1 in 10 Americans have them. As of year-end 2009 there was 2.4 billion square feet of public storage space in the US. To put this in perspective, if you lumped them all together they would be 3x the size of Manhattan island – under one roof!  Yeesh, that’s a lot of stuff. If you’ve got a storage unit key jingling around in your pocket, it could be a sign that your lifestyle is literally bulging at the seams of your home.  [Big hat tip to my friend Francine Jay, author of Frugillionaire who first brought this to my attention in her wonderful blog.]

2. Your house has more toilets or TVs than occupants. My grandmother’s house had 1 toilet and 1 TV for 4 people. No one lost life or limb. Think about your home right now. How many toilets do you have? How many people are living in your home? Or do it with TVs – the point is what we as Americans think we NEED has gotten horribly confused with what we WANT.

3. You visit the mall more often than you do the grocery store. 1 in 3 Americans are obese – physically. Another 1 in 3 are like me, battling with those stubborn last 10 pounds. As a nation we do not eat nearly enough fresh veggies and fruits. I’m of Indian heritage. Growing up we visited my family in India, where going to the local vegetable stand for fresh foods was a near daily ritual (and one that kept my rellies thin & trim). Today most of us shop at the mall more often than we shop at the grocery store. As a result we’ve become financially obese as well.

Have you ever experienced lifestyle creep? If so, I’d love to hear your experiences…

Comments

  1. I was going to express my complete astonishment over how many people have public storage units, but then I remembered that my massively large crawl space has mountains of bins in it.

    This article gives me the kick in the butt I need to get cracking.

  2. Americans work for there things why should they not have them?

  3. Americans work for there things why should they not have them?

  4. Hi Jim – thanks for sharing your thoughts! If people can afford the items and those things truly make them happy… absolutely go for it. What I am trying to highlight in this piece however is that sometimes one purchase that truly does make you happy can lead to another… and another… and another. Pretty soon you wake up one day thinking, “How they heck did I end up with all this STUFF that I now have to dust, clean, insure, repair – and that doesn't bring me happiness???”. As I see it, money is a tool to be used to help us all create the lives that make our hearts sing. What that joyful life will look like will vary dramatically from person to person – my goal with this post is simply to get people to really think as they buy things they can afford, whether they are adding to or subtracting from their happiness.

  5. After 33 yrs in same house.(4bedroom,3bath) I am now alone.One bedroom is now an office. A co-worker lives out of town. Has a room @ my house for the days she works .As a single mom for 23 yrs.I have lots of “stuff” stored in boxes. All closets “stuffed”. Some belongs to me, some to folks who have lived with me @ different times past 23 yrs. Thought of moving out is overwhelming. I have one TV, but little TV time.
    Shopping…I visit Costco weekly…spending 50-100 dollars each time. Any food I buy in bulk is broken down into single servings,vacuum sealed & frozen.
    Still working 30hrs/week (first time in 47yrs I've worked less than 40hrs) to pay off mortgage..even though I am past retirement age. Can't live on SS.

  6. As a single working mom for 23 years… you've had one of the hardest jobs out there. Go you for trying to find creative ways to make ends meet. Your children have a great role model in you with the way you are carefully planing an shopping for food. There are no easy answers – Social Security is not enough to live on and with longer lifespans even hard saved nest eggs may not be big enough to sustain. So you are smart to keep working & hopefully the outside contact and interaction makes the tradeoff of still working past retirement age have some bright spot.

  7. Ok, since you closed the comments feature in your “..dating a financial deadbeat..” entry, I'll post here.

    Even though, I can afford a meal for 2 almost anywhere, I won't take a date to a place where it cost over $250 for the both of us to eat..that's just my limit. And I always put the credit card down before looking because I know I can afford it. As far as credit cards go, I pay the balance off every month – a habit I developed after paying off my college-era credit card debts.

    Cars? Two sports cars, paid for.

    Sparsely furnished (townhome)? Growing up with pack-rats I like having an uncluttered home!

    You should be a little more fact-based in your articles.

    -Sam

  8. Hi Sam,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Sounds like you are in great financial shape and a solid role model for those around you.

    My post on “Are You Dating a (Financial) Deadbeat?” CLEARLY struck a nerve with men as I've been flooded with email messages, very few as civil as yours. Ironically I wasn't trying to single out men. Men can (and should I'd argue) use the same check list on us ladies :)

    The root points which I was trying to highlight is that a lot of people feel embarrassed about dealing with money in public while others live beyond their means. I've observed that individuals with sound finances such as yourself feel financially confident and set limits (like you do!). Take the “check the bill” example… it's been my experience that often times due to innocent human error… mistakes get made. Sometimes you end up wtih another table's bill. Sometimes a bottle of wine gets put on your bill that you didn't order. My point is that financially responsible people like you who pay off their credit cards, own their cars outright, etc. aren't embarrassed to take a few moments and make sure the bill is correct before paying it… because financially responsible people like you work hard for your money and want to make sure it's going where you intended to. My point on the house was that I meet so many people (men & women) who bought WAY too much house for their income and then had no money left to furnish it. As a fellow minimalist – I think it's great you have an uncluttered home.

    So please know that my intent was to highlight the very behavior you exhibit – for people of both genders!

    Manisha

  9. Ok, since you closed the comments feature in your “..dating a financial deadbeat..” entry, I’ll post here.nnEven though, I can afford a meal for 2 almost anywhere, I won’t take a date to a place where it cost over $250 for the both of us to eat..that’s just my limit. And I always put the credit card down before looking because I know I can afford it. As far as credit cards go, I pay the balance off every month – a habit I developed after paying off my college-era credit card debts.nnCars? Two sports cars, paid for.nnSparsely furnished (townhome)? Growing up with pack-rats I like having an uncluttered home!nnYou should be a little more fact-based in your articles.nn-Samnn

  10. Hi Sam,rnrnThanks for sharing your thoughts. Sounds like you are in great financial shape and a solid role model for those around you. rnrnMy post on “Are You Dating a (Financial) Deadbeat?” CLEARLY struck a nerve with men as I’ve been flooded with email messages, very few as civil as yours. Ironically I wasn’t trying to single out men. Men can (and should I’d argue) use the same check list on us ladies :)rnrnThe root points which I was trying to highlight is that a lot of people feel embarrassed about dealing with money in public while others live beyond their means. I’ve observed that individuals with sound finances such as yourself feel financially confident and set limits (like you do!). Take the “check the bill” example… it’s been my experience that often times due to innocent human error… mistakes get made. Sometimes you end up wtih another table’s bill. Sometimes a bottle of wine gets put on your bill that you didn’t order. My point is that financially responsible people like you who pay off their credit cards, own their cars outright, etc. aren’t embarrassed to take a few moments and make sure the bill is correct before paying it… because financially responsible people like you work hard for your money and want to make sure it’s going where you intended to. My point on the house was that I meet so many people (men & women) who bought WAY too much house for their income and then had no money left to furnish it. As a fellow minimalist – I think it’s great you have an uncluttered home.rnrnSo please know that my intent was to highlight the very behavior you exhibit – for people of both genders!rnrnManisha

  11. [...] I hate shopping. With so many choices, I’m hesitant to make a selection without reviewing every last option – lest I make a subpar decision. When I do purchase something, it often leads me to feel I need to buy something else. Shopping to me is a constant battle with “enough-ism.” (I call this dilemma Lifestyle Creep). [...]

  12. [...] I hate shopping. With so many choices, I’m hesitant to make a selection without reviewing every last option – lest I make a subpar decision. When I do purchase something, it often leads me to feel I need to buy something else. Shopping to me is a constant battle with “enough-ism.” (I call this dilemma Lifestyle Creep). [...]

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About Manisha’s Money Zen Blog

This blog chronicles my quest to identify simple, joyful methods that we can all use to feel calmer and more balanced in our relationship to our money.

Despite the abundance of personal finance books, magazines, radio programs and TV shows that have exploded into our lives over the past two decades, most of us struggle to find financial sanity, security and serenity. Rather than help us eliminate money pain, all this information has left us feeling overwhelmed and confused. We need fresh wisdom to break out of the cycle of despair and create lives of abundance.

Here’s hoping these short pieces will help you craft a uniquely rich and rewarding life.

To Your MoneyZen,
– Manisha