Episode 3 – Avoid Lifestyle Creep

Lifestyle Creep is when you end up spending more on wants than needs when you make more money. It’s something I help my clients avoid.

Today I spoke with a new client who is working with me because she wants to avoid it. Tbh, I had to Google “lifestyle Creep” before we met because I’m so used to investing extra money instead of buying things 🤣. She is making serious moves and makes double what I make, and I’m STILL able to help her because of my investing knowledge. In fact, most of my clients make more than I do! I love helping them move past the guilt of making more money than ever and turn that into action. I love us all building wealth together for our communities. Getting rich isn’t about us. 🏳️‍🌈🦄💵

🦄 Ready to embody your millionaire self? Book a call to learn more about 1:1 money coaching: calendly.com/travelercharly/clarity

Episode 3 – Avoid Lifestyle Creep

Podcast Transcript Below

Hello everybody. Welcome to the Unicorn Millionaire Podcast. I’m your host, Charly Stoever. I’m a non-binary Latinx money coach, helping my first gen clients become millionaires. I’m a formerly undocumented Mexican American and currently digital nomad traveling all over the world. Super excited to have you here along with me on my journey.

I talk about personal finance, money mindset, twerking, unicorns, rainbows, you name it. We’re here, we’re queer, and we are going to build wealth for ourselves and our communities.

Hey y’all. How’s it going? I hope you’re having a lovely summer. I’ve had a fabulous weekend. Last Sunday, I went to what I now call my Sunday Church Service has nothing to do with Jesus or organized religion or converting people. It’s actually called Bachata brunch. It’s here in DC and that event is popping.

Before I moved to, well, not moved, I’m a digital nomad, so I just move around, but not permanently cuz I can but I was in Mexico up until May and I was nervous about coming back to the US because I thought, oh my gosh, I’m gonna miss my Latino culture. I’m gonna miss the food and the dancing, but I found my spot, y’all.

It’s here in DC. It’s where all the Latinos go, get down and hang out, and it is a really good time. We get there around three. There’s a Bachata class. It starts out classy, but then it gets ratchet, and I just love being Latinx and being around my people and just dancing and vibing in the Bad Bunny album. It is the sound of the summer.

So yeah, last time I was there from three until nine, the last hour and a half or so, I couldn’t even stand up cuz my, my knees are still not doing the best right now, but I just did not wanna leave. I was like, I can’t dance upright, but I’m a dance sitting down in my seat and watching all these lovely people vibe and dance and share their energy.

And there was some really good salsa dancers there who were twirling each other. There was also a blue drink that I wanted to try, but I behaved, I only had one beer and kept hydrating with water. Still slightly hungover afterward, but hey, I’m not 21 anymore, so I need to watch what I drink and that’s that on that.

So today I wanted to talk about lifestyle creep, and I came up with this topic because this morning I had a clarity call with a potential client. And got to know her and her goals. I’m really excited to help her out to build wealth because she’s the first to make the most in her family. She just stepped into a job that’s paying a lot of good money and in her, uh, reasons why she wanted to work with me, she said, I wanna avoid lifestyle creep.

Before meeting with her, I have my potential clients fill out a form so I can get to know what their pronouns are and be respectful of that cuz that’s something I value in other businesses and just basically ask why they want to work with me specifically. Rather than any other money coaches out there and what are the results that they’re hoping to achieve after the six months working together?

And then during that course of the short free call, it gives them a chance to decide if they want to work with me, uh, after getting to know me, and we talk about how we can get them to where they’re at in terms of money, goals and money mindset. So when she said she wanted to avoid lifestyle creep, I Googled that shit.

I was like, what is that? Because I think I’d heard that before and I think it had something to do with life creeping up on you and things going unexpected and maybe spending more. But I wanted to really understand what this meant. So I Googled that shit and I was like, oh, it, it is kind of. I had in mind, lifestyle creep just meant that when you’re earning more money and you live that bougie lifestyle, you can get caught in the cycle of spending even more money.

So that’s something that I realize that, oh, I have been helping my clients with this the whole time. I’m so good at investing my money that I didn’t even know lifestyle creep. I remember when I inherited $20,000 after a family member died, and I had no idea I was gonna inherit that money or any money for that matter. I didn’t let the lifestyle creep creep up on me.

This is a new word in my vocabulary. I decided to keep my expenses the same and invested that shit and put half my paycheck in my 401k, so I was spending the same. But I will also say that I’m not completely immune to lifestyle creep. In my twenties, I was hustling my butt off doing contract work.

I was a tour guide, giving bike tours on the National Mall, getting paid minimum wage, living off tips, dog sitting, dog walking, blogging, doing all of the side hustles to pay the rent and make ends meet. And so I was thrilled when I finally got my $40k job when I was 29 to work as a stockbroker.

And to me that was bougie cuz I’d been used to making $30K or less doing the Peace Corps where you get paid $300 a month and are expected to live off that in Nicaragua. That’s a whole other Ted talk right there about how the Peace Corps is the most expensive volunteering gig you’ll ever do. And, uh, but yeah, I’ll have to table that for next time.

Anyways, when I was a stock broker and I moved to Indiana, I was like, Ooh, I’m gonna be bougie now and making $40k, I’m still gonna contribute more than the minimum to my 401k and be smart about that and learn about investing cuz that’s, that was basically my job as a stock broker to learn about investing and teach other people about it and answer questions on the phones that I decided to get a bougie as fuck apartment that was only a 10 minute walk from work.

I grew up in Washington state. I’d had a car as a teenager, but when I moved to Boston I didn’t have a car anymore and I was just so used to walking all over the place. I’ve lived in DC you walk around a lot. Even just moving in Mexico, I didn’t feel like I needed a car cuz public transportation there is better than in the US in terms of getting buses to go between cities in Mexico, the buses are a lot cleaner and they’re air conditioned and there’s movies playing. Sometimes they’ll even serve you snacks.

So I’m just used to walking around a lot. But that was a big culture shock for me when I went to Indianapolis and people looked at me like I had three heads. Cause I would walk a whole 10 minutes to work because I did not think it was worth it for me to buy a car in Indianapolis.

And I’m still glad that I did not do that. However, I spent money on the most expensive apartment building in Indiana was the Ironworks building. If you’re listening from Indiana, you probably know what I’m talking about. It’s a really bougie building, but in my eyes, I was like, well, I’m making more money so I’m gonna pay this rent.

And the rent was wild for, for Indiana, for somebody like me who lived on the East coast, it was not that expensive. I think rent was $1200 a month for a studio. And there was not a pool, there was a gym and there was a bar, a reception, and some bicycles you could rent out. But the apartment itself was the nicest I’d ever lived in.

But I do regret spending so much money on a bougie apartment, especially realizing that having a job, uh, that paid well, having the bougie apartment, I would still be depressed and almost suicidal, um, because I just did not fit in. In Indiana, I’m non-binary and sometimes I start the day with a very feminine energy and can end it with masculine energy, and that reflects in the way I am.

And back then I used to wear dresses. I don’t right now cause I don’t feel like it, but that can change. But back then I would wear dresses one day and then the next day I’d come in wearing a tie and pants and suspenders, like trying to be the fox of Wall Street out here. And I remember a coworker asking, why are you wearing a tie?

I like it, but why? And I just had to be like, cuz I want to.

So that is how I did not fit in in Indiana. And apparently the people down there thought I was weird for like wanting to travel internationally and getting out of the country. I remember during like a work brainstorm, uh, activity, they were like, if you could travel anywhere over the summer, like where would you go?

And half the people said, Florida. There’s no shame at that. But my ass was like, I want to go to Iran . Even though my whole queer self would be hella scared to go to Iran, I still, I’m all about seeing the world and knowing that the US is not the only country in the world, which is what the media propaganda makes you think or makes you want to believe, and that the rest of the world is scary even though there’s mass shootings going on and on 4th of July and, and all that.

So, I did not fit in in Indiana and having that bougie apartment where I thought I’d have people over and cook dinners for people, I thought that would be, that I would make it, but that was not the case. At all. So I spent all this money in a bougie apartment, and I had like zero friends, and this was before Covid hit.

So when Covid hit you bet your ass. I got the fuck out of there. I was already depressed and bored and making my own handmade perilla from scratch and handmade pasta. I was so bored. Even though I tried to make friends, it was just not it for me. And only like one coworker the entire time asked what my pronouns were and I think my boss asked me, but kind of like as a joke, which it was just weird.

It was not a good situation. But like I was saying, I’m not immune to lifestyle creep. So I get that that’s a thing that people will be like, oh, I’m making six figures or making more than last time. I can afford a bougie apartment, but I really wanna caution you against. Your wants and your needs, they change over time.

But if you’re making a lot more than ever, I really want you to think about, okay, do I want to buy physical objects because they make me happy or because they’ll fill some sort of void inside of me, which is exactly what this capitalist state wants us to feel like, that we have to buy things to be whole or that we have to lose.

Or change who we are, uh, and go like super healthy whatever to be good people. And that’s not the case. But buying physical things, I could tell you right now that’s like symptom number one of lifestyle creep. I was listening to a podcast the other day about minimalism, and they said that 90% of all storage units in the world are in the United States.

90% of all storage units in the entire world are in the United States. And that didn’t surprise me at all because we’re so used to buying things, having Amazon things delivered to our door in two days or less. I don’t even know. Yeah. People still lead unfulfilled lives.

The way I see it. When I got that surprise inheritance, I could have easily bought a car and I, I wanted to buy a sports car. When I moved to Indiana, I even thought I was only making $40k. I would not be able to afford a sports car, but I had this idea that I would be able to buy a sports car and my apartment eventually saved for a house.

I had this false ideas of what success looked. But I’m so glad that after being there, I learned that having the bougie apartment, I still was depressed. Like buying physical things was not it for me. When I got the inheritance, I decided to invest it instead of buying things. And that’s the thing that I see in our community is that, oh, when you get a paycheck, you should just buy a car or a new car, or replace a car, or buy a house or buy an expensive object to either prove to yourself that you’ve made it or show your wealth off to others.

But I really wanna caution you against that. You shouldn’t buy a house because it’ll make you feel complete or fix all your shit. You should buy a house because it’s an investment for your future that’s gonna give you a return.

Cars. Depreciate, aka, they lose value over time. The new cars, lose value as soon as you drive them off the lot. So buying a new car when you could just have an older used car and use the difference to invest that in the stock market. That’s one way that you avoid lifestyle creep. But I’m also not on team Oh, you have to save all your money. Invest everything. Like, no, you wanna be bougie too.

For me, bougieness involves traveling. That’s my bougie lifestyle, is literally being able to afford one way tickets, even if it’s the last minute. If I feel like going from Mexico City to Boston, and then this summer, whenever I feel like closing out my chapter in DC I haven’t bought my ticket yet, but that’s how I feel bougie is when I decide to leave a place I can just buy a one way ticket.

And that might look differently for you. If I were to settle down and have a house, have a place to put my things, I’d wanna buy some like nice clothes. And when I say nice clothes, I’m thinking of like a nice, a nice pipe, a wooden pipe that’s a vape pen to smoke THC oil in. I don’t really do tobacco.

Mm-hmm. Or a nice robe like smoking jacket style, like queer non predatory Hugh Hefner style. That’s what I’m thinking. Well, we all have different ideas of what our bougie lifestyles are, but I thought it was important to name what this whole lifestyle creep even is. And not to shame you for it, but also be like that client that I’m about to work with, who is foresee.

Oh, if I don’t like work with Charly, work with a money coach and take control of my finances and my mindset and invest that money, I could easily see myself just spending more money on things that I don’t need when I could be investing, letting my money grow with the goal of investing in real estate or property.

So my brokerage account, when I opened it had $5,000. Right now, I say right now has $21,000, but that number could go up and down. My brokerage account can lose value. It can go up a thousand, go down a thousand in a day. So that’s why I give ballpark numbers cuz the stock market’s always changing and money is flowing, ebbing and flowing.

But over the course of five years, even though the highest I got paid was $40k, that brokerage account has that $21,000 because I’ve been consistent. and over the course of time, instead of letting the lifestyle creep or me wanting to buy things to feel good about myself and fill a void, no, I’ve mostly been investing it and putting money in and also taking it out.

I sold $3,000 of Tesla stock to pay for my business coach, and that paid off more than double within a month, but I took that money from my brokerage.

And for me, having a business coach that was, that was a want. Some people might see that as a want, but for me it was a need. It was a need for me to invest in myself and to scale my business and know that I could shift from charging a couple hundred dollars for a one-off calls to erasing that offer and only doing six month programs with clients who really wanted that long term change.

And that was a whole mindset shift in itself for me to, to shut down the one off calls and only do six month coaching. But I’m so happy I hired somebody to, to let me know the benefits of that so that I could go from a hundred dollars months to $7,500 months or $16,000 months. So that’s why I say that investing in a business coach was a need for me cuz it gave me a return on my investment in that way.

So lifestyle creep can be a thing. And at first, I said, oh, I don’t even know what that is. And then I reflected, I was like, oh, I know exactly what that looks like even when you think you’re making a ton of money. Like when I thought I was making a ton, making $40k, wanting to buy a sports car and spending money on this bougie apartment, that didn’t make me happier.

And that was a prime example of lifestyle creep. But I think it had to take me a second for me to see, okay, how have I experienced lifestyle creep from a place of curiosity and not judgment to be able to relate to my clients too. Like if I were to make $200K tomorrow, if I were to inherit money randomly, I’m looking at you ancestors, like who else is out here?

I would be prepared for that, but I could definitely see myself treating myself to a nice trip or something, you know, first class tickets, Tamika knows, or going bougie, glamping in Montana, stuff like that. I like buying experiences rather than things, cause really all my belongings fit in a 65 liter backpack.

In a small backpack. I really don’t have a lot of things and I don’t have that attachment the apego to physical objects. I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a person because I don’t find fulfillment from physical things, and I’m not attached. Cuz when we’re attached to either things or people in ways that don’t serve us, that’s only hindering our growth and stifling our frequencies that we’re in.

So I hope this has helped. I want you to think about ways that you have seen lifestyle creep, how you can avoid them. For me, it’s a no brainer to invest in the stock market and an emergency fund and anything else extra than that should go to a brokerage account investment.

And I’m actually doing a masterclass on July 13th. You can sign up at the link in my bio on my Instagram. I’ll put the link in the show notes here so that you can use a brokerage account to avoid that lifestyle creep because soon as you have extra couple thousand in there, amazon.com might sound a lot, a lot better in terms of instant gratification wise.

But I’m so happy. I’ve come to terms with some of the lifestyle creep I’ve had, but aside from spending way too much money on rent and making that building really happy with all the rent money I was shoveling their way that I’ve decided to invest in the stock market and my brokerage account has grown from $5K to $21,000 in just five years.

It’s just wild to me cuz a lot of times we underestimate what we can do. Uh, in the long term and overestimate in the short term, I’m so happy that I decided to invest like a couple hundred dollars here. So now I can make thousand dollars investments. And that’s one thing that I’m helping my clients with too.

Move from the guilt and the, I don’t know what to do to really making serious money moves and a brokerage account is a great way. To invest in the stock market for your retirement for the long term, but you’re also not penalized if you sell investments within that for the short term, you are taxed, but that’s not the same as a penalty, and I wanna make that really important distinction.

Taxes are not penalties. The government will tax you depending on how long you hold an investment in your brokerage account, but that’s just part of the price you’re paying for letting your money grow itself in your sleep passively for decades and growing itself at a potentially faster rate than in a high yield savings account.

It might be really volatile. Right now the stock market’s down, but if you look at a long term chart of the stock market, it’s grown a lot, even now that the stock market down, if you’d invested $10,000, it’d still be worth more than just sitting there in $10,000 in cash. So we’re all about the long term growth in here.

And a brokerage account is a great way to avoid the lifestyle creep, especially when you’re making more money than you’ve ever made. And to be an example for your family as well too. Like I was talking about this with this client that I’m about to start working with. She’s not a millionaire, but her family’s Latinx and they see her as a millionaire because she’s just making a lot more than they ever.

But with that comes responsibility. And we’re not building wealth for us ourselves. We’re building wealth for our communities, but our families are watching us. They’re watching what we do, whether they say something or not, but they are absorbing it. Latinos, we’re hella chismosas. We’re always watching to see how other people are doing.

But we can use that to advantage and help our families, help our chosen families. Hey, my queer folks. You don’t have to be queer to understand chosen family, but I feel like that especially resonates for queer folks like me who’ve been rejected by a lot of our family members for being queer.

Um, yeah, people are watching what we’re doing, so when we lead by example, that has a ripple effect throughout our communities. So don’t miss out on my brokerage account masterclass. That’s gonna be next week on July 13th. I’m really excited to meet you and see you all. I’ll talk more about this account and share my experiences with this account and what kind of investments you can make within it.

And also starting to understand the taxes. And it’s not, it’s not as scary as it sounds. Taxes are part of life, but we’re here to normalize that because the more wealth you build, the more you’re gonna have to start caring about taxes and how to be efficient. Not avoid taxes, but be tax efficient. There’s different accounts out there that can be more tax efficient than others.

So that’s what I do. What I do is to just explain and normalize these things and take the fear and guilt and anger out of money so that we can have neutral and good conversations around money. Cuz once we do that, then we’ll really be unstoppable. Also, if you like this podcast, please feel free to share. Review it.

I’m so happy I started this just last week and I, I love the people are happy for me too, and I really appreciate the congratulations, the dms and the shares about starting this podcast. I feel like it was long overdue and, uh, sometimes I beat myself up about waiting so long for this, but we’re on divine timing.

It came at the time it was supposed to. I was more than ready to start recording this podcast. Uh, because of all the IG lives I’ve done and master classes I’ve done, I love talking to y’all. Uh, every time I record these, uh, first I’m like, I don’t know what I’m gonna talk about. And then it’s like, boom, it just flows out of me.

So I also encourage you to start a podcast, especially if you’re a minority. If you are not a white, cis Christian, male, especially straight especially, you’ve got things to say. We need you more than ever to share your experiences and connect with others online. I do this because I have a community online that I connect with people in my day to day.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to explain my pronouns and explain what non-binary is. But with my online community, I don’t have to do that. And I feel supported too. So especially if you’re struggling to find community in person, there’s community online for. So I found that community online. That’s why I do what I do when I hop on these podcasts and just like share my knowledge and also share what I’m learning because we’re all learning and helping each other.

It’s mutual aid. Wealth building is not just for us, cuz we’re here to help each other, but in order to help each other, we have to help ourselves. When we’re in the airplane, they tell us to put our mask on first, oxygen mask, and then help the other. So that’s why it’s really important for us to help ourselves take care of ourselves so we can take care of others.

All right. Yeah, this has been a great episode. I feel like I’ve reflected a lot on lifestyle creep now that I know what the word for it is, even though I’ve experienced it as well. And I hope this has helped you. Please share this podcast with your loved ones. Review it. Um, let me know what you think about it.

Love to hear from y’all and see you at my masterclass next. All right. Take care everybody.

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