3 Signs You Are Suffering From Lifestyle Creep

by Manisha Thakor

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… 


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Manisha Thakor

From Manisha's linkedin profile page:

Manisha Thakor is the Director of Wealth Strategies for Women at Buckingham Strategic Wealth and The BAM Alliance. 

Manisha and her colleagues provide both evidence-based wealth advisory services for high-net-worth households and core asset management solutions for women and families nationwide with $80,000 or more in investible assets. 

An ardent financial literacy advocate for women, Manisha is the co-author of two critically acclaimed personal finance books: ON MY OWN TWO FEET: a modern girl’s guide to personal finance and GET FINANCIALLY NAKED: how to talk money with your honey. She is on Faculty at The Omega Institute and serves as a Financial Fellow at Wellesley College. Manisha is also a member of The Wall Street Journal’s Wealth Experts Panel, a member of the 2015 CNBC Financial Advisor’s Council, and wearing her financial educator’s hat serves as a part of TIAA-CREF’s Women’s Initiative. 

Manisha's financial advice has been featured in a wide range of national media outlets including CNN, PBS, NPR, The Today Show, Rachel Ray, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The LA Times, Real Simple, Women’s Day, Glamour, Essence, and MORE magazine.

Prior to joining the Buckingham team, Manisha spent over twenty years working in financial services. On the institutional side she worked as an analyst, portfolio manager and client relations executive at SG Warburg, Atalanta/Sosnoff Capital, Fayez Sarofim & Co., and Sands Capital Management. After this she moved to the retail side and ran her own independent registered investment advisory firm, MoneyZen Wealth Management. 

Manisha earned her MBA from Harvard Business School in 1997, her BA from Wellesley College in 1992 and is a CFA charterholder. She lives in Portland, OR where she delights in the amazing Third Wave coffee scene and stunning natural beauty of the Pacific NorthWest. Manisha’s website is MoneyZen.com.