Shopping Couple

Don’t Let This Creep Near You

Article Type: Pastor to Pastor

By Rev. Phillip Leo, Church Communications Director

It may already be too late. This creep is sneaky. Everyone is vulnerable, regardless of age, class, gender or race.

I’m talking about “lifestyle creep.” It’s a thing – a very real thing.

Lifestyle creep happens when living expenses push the boundaries of available income, even as that income increases over the course of a career.   

Logically, we save more money when we make more. But lifestyle creep is anything but logical. As income increases, we spend more and more.

I know, it’s creepy.

Here’s even more logic gone AWOL: a reasonable assumption is that lifestyle creep affects only individuals and families with meager incomes because there’s not much money to spare.

The reality though, is that this kind of creep doesn’t discriminate when it comes to income. It happens to people from all different income brackets – from princes to paupers. 

This is why jaws drop when news stories break about millionaire celebrities who declare bankruptcy. We wonder how this happens, but it’s just lifestyle creep.

The truth is that we can rationalize almost any purchase. What difference does another $7.99 online monthly membership make? It turns out, a lot. 

Even people who have a good handle on their personal finances are vulnerable. It’s called “creep” for a reason! Increased spending happens gradually, inch by inch. Everything is fine until one day money is tight, and there’s no good explanation for it.

Has this creep managed to get near you? Here’s a simple way to keep it away from you…

Lead with a moment of honesty. What’s the level of anxiety you’re experiencing right now related to your personal finances? On a scale between “white knuckling it” to “freestyling,” how anxious are you these days due to your budget? If your knuckles are even a little bit white, it could be because of lifestyle creep. 

Next, ask yourself about how firm your grip is on your expenses. Sure, you pay the bills and you know where the money is going. But what’s the actual ratio of expenses to income?

“Eyeballing” your budget may have worked in the past. But the reality is that life circumstances change, and along with them so do our personal finances. If you suspect lifestyle creep, then it’s time to break down your financial life to the nitty gritty. That’s right, make a budget.

There’s a chance lifestyle creep has inched near you, too. The only question may be – just how close is it?  


Barnabas Foundation is proud to be your partner in promoting financial literacy and generous giving at your church. Find articles, books, studies and more for your church under Tools and Resources. You can also email me at pleo@BarnabasFoundation.com or call 888.448.3040. 

Rev. Phillip Leo is the Church Communications Director at Barnabas Foundation. Read Phil's online bio