What is lifestyle inflation?
When you are fresh out of college, you get a job which is usually an entry level job. You start earning with this entry level job and you move out to a place of your own – either in the same city or some other place. Once you are on your own, you start spending money on all essentials. You have to pay for stay, groceries, internet, utilities, internet etc. You somehow manage all these expenses with your limited income. Gradually time passes and you get regular salary hikes. With these hikes over the years you increase spending. You now make frequent trips to restaurants, you move to a bigger home in a nice neighborhood. You now have a big car for commute instead of using public transport, you have pets, and you now wear branded cloths with the really nice Swiss watch to match your stature.
Lifestyle inflation comes in picture when someone raises his lifestyle – standard of living in relation to the increase in earnings. If you see it, lifestyle inflation is not a bad thing. After all we all work hard to improve our standard life & comforts. When we get promoted, we need new cloths to match our profile; we need nice vehicles that match our status to commute.
Lifestyle inflation creeps up slowly, we will not know unless we start having serious problems with money we earn. Our food expenses will skyrocket, fuel expenses, expenses to maintain home and vehicles will increase gradually and they will reach to an extent where the total outgo starts pinching us. Lifestyle inflation is a big hindrance to financial independence and wealth creation as once you succumb to it; you have very little cash flow dedicated to investments for future in order to have a sufficient investment corpus to fund retirement.
How to tackle Lifestyle Inflation?
One can easily tackle the lifestyle inflation. There are some ways which can keep you on track and combat lifestyle inflation
1. Budget the expenses and note down every single expense you incur. By doing this you can flag any expense which is steadily increasing. Once you single out any particular expense skyrocketing, you can easily curb it
2. Keep your financial goals in mind. Have the goals written and the plan to achieve them also in writing. This will help you in sticking to your plans. If you stick to your plans, lifestyle inflation cannot cripple you.
If one follows the above two simple steps, it’s easy to limit lifestyle inflation. The entire premise is to stay within your limits, never make expenses column more than income column in your life. Plan wisely and stick to your plan.
To Sum it up: Though there is peer pressure to incur expenses, but increased expenses with increased income to a certain extent justifies your lifestyle inflation. But if it increases more than your income then it will cause a serious dent in your future life. Take charge, have control on your spending and keep investing regularly is the mantra to beat lifestyle inflation. Once you master this art, you are set to taste financial freedom much before others.