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Lifestyle Creep

I'm a software engineer by trade. That means I talk with computers all day programming them to do things. One of the jokes we have as engineers is the idea of "feature creep."

"Feature creep" is the idea that as a project is being worked on, those that drive the project requirements can often ask for small extra "features" to be added in. Usually, they are presented as small things that can be added in during normal development with no impact on deadlines. If there were just a few little "features," then that would be true. However, it often turns out that one feature turns into another, then another, and another. Thus the feature list "creeps" longer and longer.

We are susceptible to this in our personal lives as well. Especially if we are earning raises or moving jobs for higher pay.

When you get that higher pay, at first you want to celebrate the culmination of your hard work. I would agree that celebrating your accomplishment is a good idea. Once the celebration is done, though, we often look to little lifestyle "improvements" that we can now afford.

Perhaps it is another streaming service subscription.

Now you can eat out a little more often so you choose to.

Since you can afford it, your kids may finally get to do things like gymnastics or learn to play an instrument.

In the moment, each of these things may seem innocuous and affordable. I encourage you to be careful that you don't say yes to so much you no longer have any of your newfound income to further your main goals. If you are striving to pay off credit cards, then every dollar spent on a new subscription service you didn't have before is one less dollar you are using to pay down that debt.

If you are changing jobs or getting a raise, I encourage you to look at how that increase in income can help you complete your goals. Even an extra $500 per month can mean $6000 more debt paid off by the end of the year. Or that could be $6000 more in your Emergency Fund should something unforeseen and terrible occur.

Your increased income is definitely a blessing. When you further your noble goals with it, you continue that blessing long after it's initial awarding. This week I challenge you to resist the "lifestyle creep" and focus more on the goal ahead.

Besides, once the goal is accomplished, you should have a LOT more room in your budget (and thus, permission) to engage in that lifestyle creep on purpose!

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