How to stop lifestyle creep in its tracks

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Noble Credit Union offers all members a cheap MyRewards Platinum VISA credit card with no annual fee. (File photo)

Have you ever caught yourself dreaming about all of the amazing lifestyle changes that await you shortly after your next raise? Have you ever dreamed of how to spend a work bonus only to have the money instantly disappear into your monthly expenses? If this sounds familiar, you may be prone to lifestyle creeps.

Lifestyle creep – also known as lifestyle inflation – is the tendency to increase your expenses as your income increases. Lifestyle creep can be financially dangerous if it happens so gradually that you don’t even realize where your extra funds are going. Goods and services that were once considered a luxury are slowly slipping into your routine spending. Lifestyle Creep can easily sabotage your long-term savings goals and make it difficult for you to adapt to future pay cuts.

The good news is that once you spot it, it’s not that hard to guard against lifestyle slouches. We’ve rounded up five different ways you can counter the creep of lifestyle by using your money and your wits.

# 1: Write down your goals

This step is so simple that you might be tempted to skip it – but don’t do it. Studies show that describing your goals in writing is 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to achieve them successfully.

Get a pencil and paper and make a list of your biggest financial goals. Would you like to start a company? Retire early? Start a family? The more details you can give, the better. Keep the list in a place you will see it often so that your financial priorities are a priority. In this way, the next time you increase your income, you will know exactly what you can finance with it.

# 2: Pay yourself first

Paying yourself simply means using a portion of your income towards your savings goals before money hits your regular budget. For added motivation, rename your savings account to match one of the goals on your list (see # 1 above). Funding a specific goal or vision is more satisfying than putting money into a commonly titled “savings account”.

# 3: create a budget

Creating and maintaining a budget is an essential part of your financial wellbeing. You can use any budgeting method that works for you (apps, spreadsheets, notebooks, or envelopes) as long as you can reliably track and record your monthly expenses.

# 4: stop comparing yourself to others

It’s hard not to compare ourselves to our friends and family – especially in the age of social media. We all have access to an endless feed of the vacations, new purchases, and lifestyle upgrades from our friends. The social media feed can quickly become a form of indirect peer pressure that encourages us to spend our money in ways we would not otherwise spend.

Remember, your budget is your roadmap for meeting your financial goals. Don’t let others distract you from your vision or take away the satisfaction of being happy with what you have now.

# 5: get creative with your upgrades

You know your goals, you have your budget, and you paid yourself first. Now it’s okay to indulge yourself a little! Remember, the most sensible lifestyle upgrades for you may not be those with the highest dollar value. Lifestyle upgrades can come in all shapes and sizes: a new pillow, a longer charging cable for your phone, accessories for a new hobby … Enjoy the simpler and cheaper upgrades so you are less dependent on the expensive ones.

Noble Credit Union, a Forbes best-in-state credit union, treats each member with kindness, dignity, and honor and has helped members make solid financial decisions for 80 years. Credit Union gives members full access to a wide range of financial information and services, including cheap auto loans, MyRewards Visa credit cards, mortgage and equity loans, online and mobile banking, and more. For more information on membership in Noble Credit Union, please visit