The True Meaning of Lifestyle Creep Revealed, and It’s Not What You Expect

Financial gurus constantly harass folks about lifestyle creep. “Don’t start spending you’re newly earned dollars,” they warn when you finally earn enough money to feel financially secure. 

The commonly held definition of lifestyle creep claims that people spend more money on luxuries and things they don’t need when making more money.

However, a thread in the popular Reddit community, R/Antiwork, showcases the truth. Lifestyle creep isn’t about necessities. 

What is Lifestyle Creep?

A user in the community shared a screenshot of a quote explaining the true definition of lifestyle creep. The original quote claimed that lifestyle creep isn’t about luxuries but about “the life maintenance things you couldn’t tend to before that end up being really expensive.”

Once people make enough money to survive, they don’t spend the extras on luxuries. They spend it on essentials they’ve been putting off. 

Many users agreed and began sharing stories about their own “lifestyle creep.” 


Healthcare is outrageously expensive in the United States, even for those with insurance. Many users shared that they started spending money on health after finding good jobs with passing insurance. 

When I finally got a job, I had to pay $15k in dental work. It took me years to pay off. I’m still paying off the credit card debt from years ago,” shared one user. 

Others said they’re still putting off healthcare because they can’t afford it even with a decent job. “I’m over here with 4 broken teeth needing about $15k in work. I make decent money and still can’t afford it,” commented another. 

A Working Vehicle

Car repairs are expensive. The Original Poster (OP) mentioned car repairs as an example of reasonable spending once you have money, and other users agreed. 

“Yup, I put off a lot of routine maintenance on my car, and now that I have a decent job, I have to shell out $2k all at once,” shared one user. 

It’s not just repairs, though. Spending that freshly earned money to get a new, reliable vehicle is a massive relief for many, despite its expense or the implication that it’s “lifestyle creep.”

“Yeah, you get used to having a car that starts all the time,” snarked one commentator, implying that what some folks consider a luxury is actually a necessity. 


You can finally stop nickeling and diming at the grocery store when you earn a secure wage. 

Not having to keep track of your grocery spending is a small luxury that counts as lifestyle creep. “how about not having to keep track of your total as you buy food at the grocery store? That’s how I knew I was finally in a good place,” remarked one user. 


Financial gurus frown upon simple pleasures. Coffee finds itself on many “how to save money lists” and even spawned a disgustingly misogynistic book called “the latte factor.”

Some people take the advice to heart, thinking they aren’t allowed to treat themselves to a cup of coffee outside of the home because it’s wasteful and they can’t afford it. 

One Redditor shared the moment they finally realized a modest drink at a local cafe wouldn’t destroy their budget. 

“Growing up, I think my mom had a skewed idea of “expensive” or at least never passed on the idea that something could be expensive compared to a comparable product (a cup of coffee at home vs. drive-thru),” they began. “So every time we were in a store with a coffee bar, she’d make a point to scowl at it and hiss that they had no right to be so expensive.”

The user described their relationship with “luxury” items such as coffee as they grew older. “I never even set foot in a coffee shop because I knew that it wasn’t for people like me. All through my early 20s, even eating if I couldn’t pay my bills was a massive source of guilt,” they said. 

Finally, they had a lightbulb moment. “The day I knew I was finally okay, I got a flat tire, and it made my brake light come on. I was waiting in Goodyear for about four hours for the repair on my only car, and there was a Starbucks across the street, and it hit me so hard I nearly cried: I could have a cup of coffee and a snack if I wanted,” they shared adding that   “Getting a coffee from a shop that represented the height of everything my mom ever sneered at was not going to matter. I could have a coffee.”

Though making coffee at home is a great way to save money, no one should begrudge others for treating themselves on occasion. It’s okay to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. 

Paying Bills on Time

Many users admitted that the height of luxury was simply paying their bills on time. No more late fees, juggling expenses, or deciding whether to pay the car note or electricity bill. 

“Having bills on autopay was a life goal of mine, and now I can. It’s the best, but that’s kind of sad that was my big goal in life,” shared one user. 

Replacing Little Things

Some said their “lifestyle creep” replaced the little things they use daily. 

“Whenever I’d get some money,” replied one user, “I’d replace things that had worn out but that I’d put off replacing. Like shoes, jeans, kitchen towels, a new bath mat, etc.” The Redditor explained they weren’t buying top-of-the-line items but heading to cheap stores like Walmart or Target to replace the essentials. 

Life is Expensive, Especially When You’re Poor

The thread offered multiple examples of necessities that people splurged on once they could afford them. However, many used the opportunity to lament how expensive everything was. 

“The fact that basic needs cost so much is a crime,” responded one user, referring to the outrageous cost of living. 

“Being poor is expensive,” said another, after discussing how expensive dental work is, especially after you’ve put it off for years. 

Lifestyle Creep is Actually Just Paying for Wellness

There may be some who get gigantic raises and start overspending on luxuries. Mcmansions, sports cars, and high-end designer stores don’t struggle to attract newly wealthy customers, though some are learning that stealth wealth, rather than luxury spending, is the key to fulfillment. 

However, for most of us, this Reddit thread rings true. Lifestyle creep isn’t about throwing money away. It’s about finally being able to afford a decent standard of living. 

One user said it best “God forbid too many people’s standard of living “creeps” into the “healthy and somewhat comfortable” range.” 

Most of us spend the extra money on necessities. That they were deemed luxuries by the ruling class is part of the problem.