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The Difference Between Lifestyle Creep and Lifestyle Inflation

This is how I define the following:

Lifestyle Creep is when you expand your lifestyle by purchasing things or activities that are more expensive or better in some way.  Here is a list that I would use to describe events that can only be called Lifestyle Creep:

  • You go out and buy a boat, when you didn’t previously have a boat. 
  • You go skiing, which you’ve never done before.
  • You buy a third trophy car, but previously you only had 1 or 2 cars.
  • You buy a vacation home for the first time
  • You vacation overseas for the first time.

Lifestyle Creep is a superset of things you buy for the first time, and the set of items that “Lifestyle Inflation” represents.

Lifestyle Inflation is when you increase the cost of something that you have done before or owned before.  Here is a list that I would use to describe Lifestyle Inflation:

  • you have a small used cheap boat, and now you go out and buy a boat twice as expensive or better yet, a very expensive yacht
  • you replace your cheap watch with a Rolex
  • you replace your Chevy Malibu with a Lexus (wish I could…)
  • You replace your 36″ CRT Television set with a new 60″ LED HDTV.

With Lifestyle Inflation, you are replacing an existing object with one that is more expensive and usually better, an improvement.  All of these are also include in the Lifestyle creep catagory!


Why am I pointing these difference out?

I’ve been reading articles where people are using “Lifestyle Inflation” instead of “Lifestyle Creep” (or expansion).  And I just wanted to distinguish what I think the difference is between the two.

Today, there many misuses of the means of words.  For example when Columbus came over to the Americas, he called the native Americans “Indians” because he though he had landed in India.  Opps, very embarrassing, and yet we continue to still use that word to describe native Americans, even as it’s obviously incorrect.

Here are other ways we misuse words:

  • Turn on the TV– at one time TVs had a knob that you turned to make the TV come on.  Why do we still say this? (same with wall lights).  Wouldn’t it make more sense to say “switch on the lights” or “power on the TV“?  Foreigners probably think we’re stupid for saying it that way…
  • I got electrocuted touching that live wire – Electrocuted means killed by electricity.  The person is clearly alive though if they are telling us what happened to them…

Today I’m going to conclude by asking questions in the format that our friend the Financial Samurai would use:

Readers, With The Lifestyle definitions above, do they make sense to you?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to use the language in the truest meaning of our words, or should we continue to use them inaccurately? 

Do you think people just repeat and use what they hear even though they know that the word is being using incorrectly when someone famous say them?

Tell me if you think I’m being too picky or missing some bigger picture?



14 Responses to The Difference Between Lifestyle Creep and Lifestyle Inflation

  1. I have actually never came across either term before I started reading PF blogs actively.

    Life style inflation makes sense to me because you are paying more for the same things essentially.

    Will Friday work for jumping into J.Money’s M-Club? I was thinking both of us can post what JMoney requires and link to his M-Club post.

  2. To me, lifestyle creep is buying something you don’t need but instead of something you want.

    Back to the need versus want debate.

    To me, lifestyle inflation mentioned by Jane is buying something you already have but at a higher price.

    Does that make sense or is this synonomous to what you had already pointed out? 🙂

    My next lifestyle creep would be overseas vacation as you mentioned. And my next lifestyle inflation would be another new car at a higher price.

  3. @moneyhoneysf
    Thanks! You and I are in total agreement!

    I thought maybe I was missing something after I read a few highly respected blogger use lifestyle inflation when they should have been using lifestyle creep.

    I hope to start taking some overseas vacations (in the next few years) too. We did Disney last year, and my kids had a ball!

  4. So would Disney be creep and inflation? 🙂

    From my perspective, anything that challenges us to improve is a good thing!

  5. Yep, IMHO it would be.

    If I didn’t normally take a late year vacation in addition to the summer one, then it would be only Lifestyle creep. But since I normally do, then it’s also Lifestyle Inflation.

    Just my opinion… 🙂 It’s all good!

    Speaking of Disney, I still have buyer’s remorse (but my kids come first)! It’s about $3,000 more than I normally spend for a vacation at that time! ouch!

    The family we went with didn’t experiencing the same anquish I did… In fact, they are already talking about a cruise for next year. I don’t know if I can afford that kind of “Lifestyle Creep” at this time in my life!

    I would now like to start building a money base for the next few years!

    • Just buyer’s remorse… But that’s okay, I’m like that with practically everything that cost more that $5.00. 🙂

      In fact, if I had the money, we’d be going in another few years… while the kids are still young.

  6. Hehe, well in that case…

    Oh no, you’re in a lifestyle recession 😉

    Now if you still have all three watches then it’s lifestyle creep.

    If you only have the Tag Heuer, then you experienced lifestyle deflation.

    Thanks for stopping by sensei! 🙂