The biggest mistake in my financial life happened when I was in my early 20s without serious responsibilities.
I remember it like yesterday. I was just advised that I was getting a pay raise, significantly at the time in terms of what I was earning.
I couldn't believe my luck. Here I am, only 20-something and I would have received more money than I thought possible for someone my age.
So you can imagine what I did, right? Well, you may be wrong, my financial competence had not started at this stage, so my first thoughts were how I would spend this money.
Before you knew it, I had spent every part of the rise and more in my head.
For sure, next year I made the best Julia Roberts performance Beautiful woman and I spent my money as if it were a race.
This pattern continued for several years as my income continued to rise until I finally understood what was happening.
This phenomenon is called lifestyle and is dangerous and bordering on an epidemic.
WHAT IS LIFESTYLE TREE?
To put it simply, lifestyle is a slow but steady change in your spending habits and standard of living as your income increases or not in some cases.
I just got a pay raise, cool, buy new shoes or a widget. Your bonus arrives at the end of the year, this is a new car. Get up, this is a bigger house.
These things are not necessarily so bad in themselves, but if you are not careful, each of these nominal increases in your standard of living is gradually beginning to add up.
A higher lifestyle costs more. If you do not recognize what is happening or you are unable to stop it before you run into problems.
First, you begin to accumulate more and more credit card debt, then your ability to leave a portion for later erodes, and then you stumble under the pressure of rising debt and expense.
With more than 96 percent of people retiring without enough savings or investment to support their retirement, it's time to address this problem before it's too late.
Avoiding crawling lifestyles is about managing costs, being aware of change, and thinking critically about improvements in your life.
So how do you identify the creeping lifestyle and what can you do to avoid it?
THREE TRAPES OF LIFESTYLE DREAM AND HOW TO AVOID THEM
1. JUDICIAL INCREASE IN INCOME
Whenever you feel a sudden or unexpected increase in your income, keep that in mind. This is a time for careful planning.
Instead of rushing to spend your new money, take the time to plan your expenses. The first thing you need to do is make sure that you release a little for your future financial self. You don't want to be one of the 96 percent, do you?
By planning your expenses, you can manage a slow and steady increase in your expenses, if needed, without falling into the trap of having to keep up with the Joneses. This is another problem that is often fueled by crawling lifestyles.
2. INSTALLATION GRAPHIC
Instant gratification is a symbol of modern society. Whether it's buying the latest iPhone or adopting the latest trends, we're all looking for that next fix. And don't worry, retailers are well aware of this issue and will make it as easy as possible for you.
These days, retailers have allowed you to part with hard-earned money 24/7, and you don't even have to watch these annoying advertisers to do so.
If crawling was a disease, then one of the remedies for it would be delayed gratification.
I often work with people who want to reduce their debt and the first thing we do is teach them to leave their credit card at home when they go shopping.
When you have a plan for your money and expenses, you know how much you have available, so there is no need for credit cards and the trap of instant gratification generated by the bright lights of stores and fantastic sales promotions.
Thinking about delayed gratification only means taking the time to decide if you really need this product. Nine times out of 10 that you don't have, and taking a break is enough to save you spending money you don't actually have.
I like to call it protecting your future self financially, because one day you want to stop working, so now you have to take action to make enough investments when that day comes.
3. FINANCIAL LITERATURE
This is one of my real frustrations with modern teaching. We spend 13 plus years in school and a few or more at university, and none of that time involves teaching financial literacy.
Most people enter the working world with no idea how to manage money.
With the sudden influx of new full-time income, lifestyle inherently takes control of your life, even before you know what it is.
Now here's where it gets interesting. I'm not a fan of budgets, they are as useless as diets, but you have to do something to manage your money.
Instead, I prefer having a plan for your money. Allocate what you need for your living expenses, make sure some are left aside for investment and debt reduction, allocate some for planned future expenses such as Christmas, birthdays and car repairs and relive what's left.
If you are automating money into special bank accounts, you will protect yourself from excess money and the traps of lifestyle.
And to get training on how to grow your wealth, whether you are reading books, buying a course, or attending a seminar, it's important to know how to make your money work for you, not the other way around.
Of course, you have to enjoy life and everything it has to offer, so there are times when your income increases where you will be rewarded. Maybe shopping like Julia Roberts Beautiful woman is alright.
Just be aware of the pitfalls, know what you are doing, plan it and make sure it is done within your money plan. Your money plan is structured to support your future financial self, which requires you to do something now before it's too late.
By managing your lifestyle, you are setting yourself up for a life with more money and more freedom and is not what everyone wants?
Andrew Woodward is an accredited mindshift.money money trainer based in Sydney who teaches people how to take control of their money and invest in their future, simply and effectively. Sign up for his free weekly money tips at theinvestorsway.com.au