7 Practical Ways to Avoid Lifestyle Creep

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There are practical ways to avoid lifestyle creep that you can implement to adapt your lifestyle. These tips mean changing your mindset and having a belief and a way of life that can completely avoid lifestyle creep. Our world today is driven by consumerism. If you are stuck in the consumer cycle then you will suffer badly from lifestyle creep.

People who live a more frugal life or are minimalist typically don’t suffer from lifestyle creep. Many people think being frugal means being cheap and living a life of depravation. That is not the meaning of frugal. Frugal means using only what is needed and not being wasteful.

There are so many things that we do in our daily lives that are opportunities to avoid lifestyle creep. Society conditions us to accept certain ways of living that are wasteful. Marketing by big companies convinces us to buy and to behave in a certain way that encourages us to spend. Often this spending is unnecessary and completely avoidable without significantly affecting our comfort or lifestyle.

There are at least 7 practical ways to avoid lifestyle creep

  1. Smaller rather than bigger
  2. Downgrade rather than upgrade
  3. Efficiency rather than wastage
  4. Second hand rather than new
  5. Older model rather than latest model
  6. DIY rather than paid
  7. Fix and keep rather than replace

1.      Smaller rather than bigger

We are all lead to believe that if it is bigger it is better. Bigger cars are better than smaller ones. Bigger houses are better than smaller ones. Top of the range is better than entry level. Etc. In some ways bigger is better but it also costs more. Most of the time the cost is significantly higher while the benefit is only slightly higher. There always seems to be the urge to go bigger and bigger and bigger.

Rather decide on what is reasonable and acceptable for your needs. Just because you can afford something bigger and it is better does not mean that it is necessary. Look at that additional cost and consider how you could rather save and invest that difference

2.      Downgrade rather than upgrade

The temptation to upgrade is real. Almost everything we buy today has a range of options for upgrades like flights, accommodation, cell phones, data packages, cars, bikes etc. When there are a range of options they will advertise the lowest price but market the benefits of the top of the range item.  

With the pace of technology moving so fast the logic presented is that the upgraded version is better. Once again, the extra cost of upgrading vs the features and benefits is usually unjustified. This is another great opportunity to remain with the existing version and not upgrade. Sometimes you may even realise that what you thought you would use you don’t, and you can actually downgrade and make some savings.

Many people fall into a habit of upgrading and it becomes the norm without even thinking about it. Cars and cell phones are the best example. Every 2 years you replace your cell phone and every 4 years you replace your car. But why does it have to be that way? If you properly analyse the benefits vs the cost, you will see that it is completely unnecessary and doesn’t make financial sense.

3.      Efficiency rather than wastage

As the consumer society has taken hold, we have created a throw a way and replacement culture. My parents and grandparents grew up in war times and times of scarcity. They are much more sensitive to wastage. Food is the obvious one where wastage is happening all the time, but there is more. They don’t buy things easily they always use everything they buy and often don’t replace things unless they are broken.

Nowadays people buy so much stuff that they must rent storage units because they don’t have enough space to keep what they have bought. It also means that you are not using those items because they are in storage, so why have them in the first place. That is wastage. Buying anything that you don’t really need is a waste of money, space and worry.

Don’t buy stuff just because you can afford it or because you think you might need it. Rather wait or delay, then if you still need it then go and buy it. Once you have spent the money it is gone, never to return and it’s a lost savings opportunity. A lot of our lifestyle is about feeling good and looking good but it is just wasteful. Rather be efficient in keeping things simple and useful without clutter and wastage. Just because you earn more doesn’t mean you need to buy more.

4.      Second hand rather than new

Buying used or secondhand items is normal for people who don’t have a lot of money or can’t afford the new item. That is exactly the problem. The reason that you can buy great quality used items is because someone else bought a new item that they no longer need or use. Yet that item still has a full useful life. The best example is cars, they have up to 15 -20 years of useful life. So why only use it for 3 or 4 years?

Sometimes it’s not easy or possible to find used items but you always have to try. The online used portals is SA like OLX and Gumtree and places like eBay and Craigslist are easy to use to find used items. It really is not that difficult and once you get used to it and have done it a few times it becomes easy. Its also a great place to get rid of you clutter by the way and free up some cash.

Once again buying new just because you can afford it is not a good enough reason to buy the new item. Always think about whether you could get this item second hand. Have a look at some and see if it will work for you. You will be surprised at some of the bargains you can get. Once you have bought a new item and used it for a few months it is the same as the used item that you could have bought.

5.      Older model rather than latest

Everybody always wants the latest model. It’s a bit like the upgrading discussion earlier. Just because there is a new model does not mean that the old model is not good. Obviously the new model is better, but by how much and is it really relevant? These are the questions you need to ask. There is always a premium to be paid for the latest and greatest.

The price difference between the old model and the new model is usually significant. That’s because nobody wants to buy the old model so it is discounted even more. Very often the new and the old model are remarkably similar in capability. The new one just looks newer and has some extra features that you have never used.

You find this a lot in technology items that are improved every year. The first few versions can have significant changes but after a few years the difference between versions becomes smaller and smaller. Sometimes on items there is virtually no difference, its just the model year and the colour or look that differ, but the price is higher.

Having new models and the latest is also linked to lifestyle. People who are doing well and get promoted have the latest and greatest. It fits in with their upwardly mobile lifestyle. This is lifestyle creep at its best. Don’t fall for it. Think about what you are doing and is that new model worth it, will the old model not do exactly what you need it to do for a fraction of the cost?

6.      DIY rather than paid

Do it yourself is not for everyone. Some people just seem to be more natural than others. Everybody and anybody can learn DIY. Almost anything can be searched on the internet and found, especially DIY videos. There are many DIY jobs that are recurring so it will pay you to get the right tools and teach yourself.

Don’t tell me that you don’t have time to do it or that your time is too valuable. Are you one of those people moving up the corporate ladder who earns enough to afford to pay someone? I have had these thoughts myself, so I know. If you have time to sit in front of the TV or go window shopping, then you have time to do DIY.  You are just wasting money and being lazy.

Besides saving money and helping yourself get to financial freedom faster you will also be learning new skills. The satisfaction of doing something yourself is significant. It will make you feel good and useful. Don’t underestimate this. Start with the small jobs and before you know it you will be doing some big DIY jobs yourself.

7.      Fix rather than replace

When I was a kid and if something broke in our household then we got it fixed. These days if something breaks you buy a new one. It is the throw away and replace culture. Every time you buy and replace you are wasting money and polluting the environment. You can still save a lot by having something fixed. By doing so you are being kind to the planet by not creating more waste. It may be a bit more of a hassle, but it is worth it.

Ideally you should try to fix it yourself first. Once again like DIY just google it and see if there is an easy fix that you are capable of doing. With a little bit of ingenuity and skill you can fix almost anything that breaks especially if you are DIY inclined. If not it’s a good time to start learning. Even if you can’t do it you can at least find out if it is possible to fix and what needs to be done. If in doubt find out.

It will be worth repairing if the repair costs less than half the cost of a new item and if the repair is going to give it another lease of life. Most mechanical items like washing machines, ovens, fridges, lawn mowers are worth it to repair. Many electronic items can also be fixed. As an example, I have had batteries replaced in cell phones to give them another whole life.

Practical ways to avoid lifestyle creep

So there you have 7 practical ways to avoid lifestyle creep that are simple and achievable. They are known to all of us but we forget and get caught up in the marketing hype. The best place to avoid lifestyle creep is at the start. When you get more money from an increase or bonus resist the urge to spend it. Use these tips to break that cycle and rather start a cycle of investing your extra money.

The treadmill of life is no more than ongoing lifestyle creep. It is the continual cycle of earn more and spend more. Work harder, earn more and spend more. It is up to you to break that cycle. You may think that breaking that cycle leads to a life of deprivation. But that is not true. Breaking the cycle of lifestyle creep will lead to a life of financial freedom.