What is Lifestyle Creep & How to Avoid It

June 9, 2023
for People

Have you ever noticed that as your income increases, so does your spending? This phenomenon, known as lifestyle creep, can have a significant impact on your financial well-being if left unchecked. In this article, we'll explore what lifestyle creep is and how it can potentially affect your financial goals. We'll also provide practical strategies to resist the allure of lifestyle creep and prioritize your long-term financial success.

Understanding the ins and outs of lifestyle creep is essential in today's consumer-driven society. As your income grows, it's easy to succumb to the temptation of upgrading your lifestyle and indulging in nonessential purchases. However, without conscious budgeting and financial planning, lifestyle creep can hinder your ability to save for retirement, repay debt, and build emergency funds.

What is lifestyle creep?

Lifestyle creep is the gradual increase of spending as income increases. It can be difficult to avoid, especially if you don't keep track of your spending. To avoid lifestyle creep, it is important to set a budget and stick to it. Additionally, it is important to save a portion of any income increases and to avoid making large, unnecessary purchases.

How can lifestyle creep potentially affect your financial goals?

Lifestyle creep can have long-term consequences on financial goals, such as retirement savings, debt repayment, and emergency funds. When individuals increase their spending on nonessential items, they are reducing the amount of money they are able to save for their financial goals. This can lead to a lack of financial security in the future, as well as a decreased ability to cover unexpected expenses. Additionally, lifestyle creep can lead to an increased amount of debt, as individuals may be unable to pay for their increased spending with cash. This can lead to an increased amount of interest accrued on the debt, which can further reduce the amount of money available for financial goals.

How to Identify Lifestyle Creep

Tracking your expenses can be a helpful way to identify and mitigate the impact of lifestyle creep. By maintaining a record of your income and expenditures, you can gain valuable insights into your spending patterns and detect any gradual increases in nonessential purchases. This level of financial awareness enables you to make proactive adjustments before lifestyle creep significantly impacts your financial goals.

Utilize budgeting apps or expense tracking tools to simplify this process and ensure accuracy in your records. Here's a list of the best expense tracker apps, according to Investopedia. A tool like Mint by Intuit is great for personal expense tracking. Regularly reviewing these reports will help you stay accountable for your spending choices and maintain control over your financial future. By consistently monitoring your expenses, you can effectively combat lifestyle creep and prioritize the allocation of resources towards achieving long-term financial security.

Periodic Reviews of Budget and Spending Habits

It's crucial to conduct periodic reviews of your budget and spending habits to identify areas where adjustments may be necessary. Regular evaluations help you stay on track with your financial goals and ensure that lifestyle creep doesn't go unnoticed. By analyzing your expenses, you can pinpoint any excessive or unnecessary spending and make informed decisions about reallocating funds towards savings, investments, or debt repayment. Setting a schedule for these reviews, such as quarterly or biannually, will provide a structured approach to maintaining financial discipline and preventing the detrimental effects of lifestyle creep on your long-term objectives.

Set Financial Goals to Resist Lifestyle Creep Temptations

Establishing specific financial goals, such as retirement savings targets or debt repayment plans, can help you resist the allure of lifestyle creep. By having well-defined objectives in place, you are more likely to prioritize your long-term financial well-being over short-term indulgences. To stay focused on these goals, create a visual representation of your progress, such as a chart or tracker, and display it prominently in your home or workspace. This constant reminder will encourage you to remain disciplined with your spending habits and maintain a clear vision of the desired outcome. Regularly revisiting and adjusting these goals as needed ensures that they remain relevant and achievable, further reinforcing your commitment to preventing lifestyle creep from jeopardizing your financial future. Working with a financial professional, such as a planner or advisor, may also help you with this process of setting goals and reaching them. ⬇️⬇️⬇️

Collaborate with a Financial Planner to Optimize Budgeting and Goal Setting

A financial planner can be an invaluable resource in helping you create a comprehensive budget, set realistic goals, and avoid lifestyle creep. By working closely with a professional who understands the nuances of personal finance, you can develop tailored strategies that align with your unique financial circumstances and objectives.

  • Expert Budgeting Guidance: Financial planners possess the skills and knowledge to analyze your income, expenses, and spending habits. They can help you create a well-balanced budget that accounts for both essential needs and personal priorities while ensuring that funds are allocated towards savings and investments. This expert guidance can empower you to make informed decisions about your finances and maintain control over your spending.
  • Personalized Goal Setting: A financial planner will work with you to establish Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Televant, and Time-bound (SMART) goals that align with your long-term vision for financial security. By setting these personalized targets, you'll have a clear roadmap to follow as you navigate through various stages of life. Your financial planner will also help you adjust these goals as needed in response to changing circumstances or evolving priorities.
  • Ongoing Accountability: Regular check-ins with your financial planner provide accountability for maintaining discipline in your spending habits. These meetings serve as opportunities to review progress towards your goals, discuss any challenges or setbacks encountered, and make necessary adjustments to keep you on track. This ongoing support helps ensure that lifestyle creep does not derail your efforts towards achieving long-term financial success.
  • Professional Investment Advice: Financial planners are well-versed in investment strategies that can grow your wealth over time while minimizing risk exposure. By leveraging their expertise, you can optimize the allocation of funds towards retirement savings accounts, stocks, bonds, or other investment vehicles best suited for your risk tolerance and objectives. This proactive approach to wealth management is key in preventing lifestyle creep from consuming resources intended for future security.

By collaborating with a financial planner, you gain access to expert advice and support tailored to your unique financial situation. This partnership empowers you to make informed decisions about budgeting, goal setting, and investing that will ultimately help you avoid the pitfalls of lifestyle creep and secure a stable financial future. Here's our full guide on the value of working with a financial professional.

If you're looking for a professional to help you manage your finances and avoid lifestyle creep, visit the AdvisorFinder marketplace to find an advisor or planner.

Establish an Emergency Fund to Buffer Against Financial Setbacks

Creating an emergency fund is a crucial step in safeguarding against unexpected financial setbacks and preventing lifestyle creep. By setting aside money specifically for emergencies, such as job loss, medical expenses, or urgent home repairs, you can ensure that you have a safety net in place when the need arises. This financial buffer not only provides peace of mind but also reduces the risk of resorting to high-interest debt or dipping into long-term savings to cover unforeseen expenses. Aim to save at least three to six months' worth of living expenses in your emergency fund and consider keeping it in a separate, easily accessible account to avoid the temptation of using it for non-emergency purposes. Here's our full guide on how to build an emergency fund.

Another great resource to learn about budgeting, building an emergency fund and other personal finance topics is, surprisingly, Reddit. If you're not familiar, Reddit is one of the largest online forums where users engage in subreddits on particular topics. Users discuss anything from personal finance to penguins. Redditors submit content to the site such as links, text posts, images, and videos, which are then voted up or down by other members. Some of the best subreddits to learn about personal finance are: 

Membership numbers^ are as of the original publish date of this article. The Redditors from r/PersonalFinance have put together a very detailed Wiki on emergency funds, budgeting and countless other personal finance topics. Note: as always, use your discretion with information you read online. Especially in public forums where anyone can post.

Prioritize Experiences and Personal Growth Over Material Possessions

To prevent lifestyle creep, it's essential to prioritize experiences and personal growth over material possessions. By focusing on enriching your life through travel, learning new skills, or engaging in meaningful relationships, you can derive long-lasting satisfaction that is not dependent on the accumulation of physical items. This approach encourages a more mindful spending habit, allowing you to allocate your resources more effectively towards your financial goals without sacrificing overall happiness and well-being.


By understanding and actively managing lifestyle creep, you can take control of your financial future. Don't let the allure of increased income lead you down a path of unchecked spending. With careful planning, budgeting, and prioritization, you can maintain financial discipline, protect your long-term goals, and achieve lasting financial success.