I recently came across a term I'd never heard before: lifestyle creep. The gals over at The Middle Edit introduced me to it, and while at first glance I didn't really know what it was, something -- call it gut intuition -- told me I was experiencing it without even realizing it. Lifestyle creep goes something like this...
It's needing the open floating kitchen shelves instead of your perfectly fine kitchen cabinets.
It's buying the $15 wine instead of the $8 budget buy that tastes almost just as good.*
It's feeling the need to replace the basic patio furniture decor on your deck that's comfortable but wouldn't make a Pinterest board.*
It's loving your home but feeling the need for a bigger one because 'that's just what you do.'
It's decorating with all new holiday decor and dishes every single year (even though you already own it in spades) because you neeeeed this year's version.
It's owning 20 tubes of lipstick in different shades of pink.
It's buying the designer dress for the label when the more affordable version you used to buy looks just as nice.
It's paying for prepared foods instead of chopping them yourself.*
It's falling for an email's subject line informing you of a flash sale for something that wasn't even on your wish list but suddenly you feel compelled to buy NOW!*
Get the point? If not, let this investment website explain it better.
Lifestyle creep, as I've discovered, is the cumulative effect of all the curated marketing, inspirational content, and comparison traps that affect us on the daily. It erases the satisfaction we might've once felt in simpler choices and replaces it with the need for more. It convinces us that if we're not living like that Instagram influencer or that mom-preneur featured in Real Simple magazine then we're just not living. Who cares if we can't afford it? Who cares if it wasn't on our list of priorities? The world is telling us anybody who's somebody has this, does this, lives this and so we HAVE to, too! Otherwise our taste would be in question. Otherwise we'd have more money in the bank, but who can see that?
The crazy thing is, is that despite how dramatic that all sounds, you know it's all totally TRUE! I went ahead and put * by life creepers that affect me personally. I'm not sure I've ever talked about my patio furniture (the most basic set you can buy from Target) without apologizing for it. I'm a staunch loyalist to Kendall Jackson chardonnay at a bare minimum -- no bottles with a kangaroo or footprint allowed. And I just bought several dresses purely because of a 20% off flash sale that I rationalized into cost savings.
My name is Brooke, and I'm a victim of life creep.
I get it. Just because we can buy something doesn't mean we should. Live like nobody else now so later you can live and give like no one else. (Anyone else a Dave Ramsey fan?) What was just fine for me a few years ago should be just fine for me now, right? It's okay to strive for bigger and better things but they should come on your terms, not born out of comparison and competition.
In essence, I'm all for this. But I'll also say this: there's something to be said being able to about pay for a short cut. I'm a busy mom whose day can flip from fine to dumpster fire just trying to put dinner on the table. If buying already prepared foods can douse those flames, I will write that check time and again.
I'm 37 and can't hang like I used to. A hangover ruins my day. If I need to pay for better wine to lessen the chances of a nasty wine headache, I will buy stock in KJ chardonnay today.
Some of my fondest memories of Mike and I in the early days of our relationship were finding ways to have fun on a shoestring budget. We'd make a pitcher of margaritas with Cuervo and generic triple sec, and play Wii Sports on a Friday night. We'd go to the beach and split a foot-long turkey sub with a side of Goldfish. I couldn't afford a gym so I ran around the neighborhood and did YouTube yoga videos. I like that I made it work. But 28-and-dating is not 37-with-a-family. And Club Pilates instructors who can closely monitor my form to protect my weak back muscles are worth the money to help me avoid another thrown back, two-week recovery, and trip to the physical therapist.
I'm glad to understand the lifestyle creep phenomenon so I can be more aware of my triggers. It's already helped me make better grocery choices to fit my grocery budget! In the end, it all comes back to balance.
I can let go of the patio furniture hang up and switch my perspective to feeling grateful for having a home with a deck and a backyard to relax on. I can delete the sale alert email. I can remember that my loving, supportive family, the roof over my head, even the gadgets that make my everyday life easier and more convenient...they're the things that make me rich in life.
But back off my wine and pre-cut vegetables. That's where I draw the line.
What do you think? Can you think of ways lifestyle creep has affected your life and behaviors? Do you think it's engrained into our culture and the way we consume ads and marketing? Now that you know about lifestyle creep will you become more aware of your shopping habits? It's so personal, and a lot to think about!
Thank so much for coming by The Tony Townie today to talk lifestyle creep and bougee middle-age life behaviors. So grateful for your time and support!