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Post-Graduation Lifestyle Creep
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Lauren (She/Her)
Financial Educator
Posted December 15, 2022
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Graduating from one season of life and moving into a more lucrative one can be exciting! It may put you in the position to say, “yes” to things you were never able to before. With great power, however, comes great responsibility, and getting in the habit of saying, “yes” could make it harder to save money intentionally. It’s easy to spend more when you make more, but if you hold off and live below your means, you will be able to afford more later in life.
What is lifestyle creep?
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Lifestyle creep, also known as lifestyle inflation, is when a person’s expenses increase slowly as they move into a new season of life. This is especially common when a person takes on a new job that pays more than their previous one. Little by little, we level-up our preferences to be more expensive. We may opt to eat out more, live in a more expensive apartment, buy more expensive clothes and shoes, and choose to go out more. We tell ourselves we have earned it, so it’s okay. We see others around us living a certain way and it may make us feel like we should too. Between peer pressure we perceive and our human desire to have more, we can experience our expenses increasing slowly over time.
Why does it happen?
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One thing that makes it easy to fall prey to lifestyle creep is when we convince ourselves that we need more. Instead of second-hand and low cost clothing, some feel like they have to opt for the top name brand. Instead of cooking at home and bringing a lunch, some feel like they must eat out daily. Social media and our peers may sell us a story that when you reach a certain place in your life, you have to have all these things and more, but the reality is that the longer you wait to level up your expenses, the more you can save for your future. Having a firm idea of a need versus a want will help you maintain your spending plan when temptation arises. Furthermore, leveling up your life does not have to break your bank. With strategic money planning, you can say yes to more of what matters most.
How do I effectively prevent it?
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For some, it can be easier to have a tight budget when they’re on a fixed income. When you have hard limits, you spend less and it becomes the culture of your home. However, when that is not the case, little by little, we can begin to spend more and it changes what our normal habits look like, creating a domino effect.
 
Some ways we can avoid the inflation are to first, decide not to. When we make a cognizant choice not to spend more, we’re less inclined to do so. Being intentional with media exposure can help too. With TV and music portraying one narrative, it can feel like we need to follow along, but that’s not always realistic. Finally, working as a team can be to your advantage. When you involve your close friends and family with your plan, they can hold you accountable and encourage the lifestyle you want.
 
Don’t let a positive change in your financial situation negatively impact your long-term achievement! Prioritizing what you need most can help you decrease and cut out unnecessary expenses. Doing a monthly spending audit is a great place to start.
Sources:
https://www.npr.org/2022/07/13/1111300716/lifestyle-creep-definition
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