Sometime in the past few years a little phrase started to make its way into the vernacular around water coolers and on entrepreneur blogs everywhere.
Lifestyle Creep is the term used to describe the phenomenon of spending rising in proportion to income. If your expenses rise at the same rate your income ascends you never feel as though you have extra – it’s already spent.
The articles I have read on the topic of Lifestyle Creep all seem to start from a similar assumption… “So, your income has gone up and you still don’t have enough money?” To this they set forward all kinds of advice about making do with your $250K salary and still being sure to save.
To me, this begs the question, what do you do before you hit that rising column of cash? How do you set yourself up to get to a fantastic lifestyle? Can you set it and forget it?
Below are the five steps I am going to take as my star rises so that I can both achieve the lifestyle I am seeking AND balance the need of living within my means and achieving a lifestyle I love!
First of all, I am currently not earning the income necessary for the cost of my obligations and needs. This means I am under-earning. Before you get too down about it, I can tell you that it’s getting better all the time, and just because I am low on funds at the moment does not mean I don’t have a budget. I do. My fiance and I know what is costs to be ‘us’ right now and we have a budget for every aspect of our lives complete with savings targets. The reality is we are not currently saving because we are not currently earning anything above what we need. I plan to change all that, starting with saving- now.
1. Define enough.
“Oh, I don’t have enough to save anything now” is a common refrain that keeps lifestyle creeping without consciousness. When we don’t define enough we can never have enough because enough will continue to be a moving target. Like an ottoman from Alice in Wonderland, with dancing legs so that every time you go to put your feet up it keeps playfully frolicking away, we will never get to rest our feet and relax!
That’s why the first step is to define enough. What do you need to afford a comfortable existence that you feel really good about?! Ask yourself what luxuries would you like to prioritize:
- Where would I LOVE to grocery shop?
- How much would I like to comfortably spend on self care? Do I need massages once a month? A yoga class on Saturdays? A fishing trip on the coast each quarter?
- Am I a ‘car person’ and would a new ride make me feel like king of the hill?
Take a look at your current budget. Expand the areas that mean the most to you, being careful not to forget how much you love Christmas or an annual trip to an exotic location! Take all of this and add it up. Factor in maxing you 401K, having an investment fund, and a rainy-day supply. Figure out what it would really cost to be you in an average month, spending on the areas that make you most happy!
2. Start saving now.
“Oh, I don’t have enough to save anything now” is a phrase that is near and dear to my heart. In thinking about writing this article I made a discovery about myself. This belief is rooted in reality. I know what it literally costs to be me with no frills and I am not earning that at this tender stage of my business, but do I really not have anything I can save now? No. I can save something, anything, just to prove to myself that I can and that I am committed to my own future of prosperity! That is why I am committing to save $5 every Monday until further notice.
3. Be dedicated to earning more and more until I am earning the monthly average of my desired lifestyle.
Now that I know what enough is for me, and I am building trust with myself through saving even just a meager amount each month, it’s time to start climbing. In a recent workshop a colleague said that the 3 chief barriers to abundance are a lack of evidence, patience, and discipline. Evidence, patience, and discipline can all be cultivated! If I remain committed to consciously creating the lifestyle I want, I know what it costs, and I am consistently on the lookout for all the ways I can get there the only thing that will keep me from getting there is giving up! Stay vigilant!
4. Commit to living your conscious lifestyle for 2 years.
This serves two purposes. One, when you get there, if your life is anything like mine, you are probably going to be tired! After all that work I deserve to bask in the budget I dreamed up for a while before moving on to the next thing! Second, it is likely that the momentum I build getting there will carry me beyond my target. In all likelihood I will end up with more than my budget calls for. This is perfect! All the extra can go into savings for a couple years while I work to relax into my new lifestyle! I can make up for some of the lost time that I wasn’t saving but $5/week because I was hustlin my ass off to get to self-sustaining and beyond to conscious lifestyle!
5. Reevaluate and level up.
At two years of living on lifestyle I may be felling the itch for more. Time to take stock. Where am I? Am I earning more than I had budgeted? How much more? What percentage of that overage do I want to open up to spending and on what?
Time to take a look at what I want to expand in my life and determine how much additional capitol I need for the next set of spending goals. Is it time for a boat yet?! Figure out what you desire, add it up, and go out and get it! Remember, until you have it – stick to the budget and live out your lifestyle according to plan!