Lifestyle inflation – the silent assassin!

I’ve written previously about the millions of people living paycheck-to-paycheck. It doesn’t matter how much you earn but rather how much you spend. According to a recent Nielson survey, 25% of American families earning more than $150,000 per year still live paycheck-to-paycheck, so even the wealthy aren’t immune. Apart from poor financial habits, a key reason for this ongoing money stress, for many people, is lifestyle inflation.

It is a gradual, subtle and common problem that’s killing our collective finances. The harmful effects occur over time and in a way that often goes unnoticed.

Like the fable of the boiling frog, who didn’t perceive the danger of the increasingly hot water and was slowly cooked to death, many of us have been unwittingly turning up the financial heat in our own lives by trying to keep up with the Joneses or “upgrading” our lifestyles when we get a payrise.

Most of us have been victims to the silent assassin of lifestyle inflation. Our spending inches up year-on-year, and what was once something you considered a luxury item is now a must have “need”.

Lifestyle inflation, a silent assassin

Those moments when you convinced yourself that you deserved it because you work hard, or that a “one-off” treat won’t hurt, have added up over time. The aggregate impact of decisions to get a nicer couch, second car or bigger house increase our monthly spend commitments and raise the bar of what we need to earn.

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Living paycheck-to-paycheck is a disaster – why you need to escape the cycle NOW!

It’s estimated that ~78% of workers are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Scary, but not surprising. People from all walks of life are scraping by and struggling through life – regardless of gender, education or income levels.

PwC’s 8th annual Employee Financial Wellness Survey, 2019, also notes that more and more people experiencing financial difficulties:

  • 49% of all employees say they find it difficult to meet household expense on time each month
  • Only 31% would be able to meet their basic expenses if they were out of work for an extended period of time
  • 59% consistently carry balances on their credit cards, with 37% finding it difficult to make their minimum payments each month
  • 35% of Millennials and 30% of Gen X employees are using their credit cards to pay for monthly necessities which they could otherwise not afford

Most worryingly of all is that 45% of people surveyed have less than $1,000 saved for unexpected expense. Unfortunately this situation is worse for women, with 51% not having this relatively small amount of money put aside vs. 38% of men.

The situation is dire and getting worse. It’s time to do something about it, because living paycheck-to-paycheck is a disaster not only for your immediate finances but also your general wellbeing, happiness and future living standards.

There is a better way to live, than paycheck-to-paycheck
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