The Black Sweater Syndrome

dw_shoppingBy Manisha Thakor, personal finance expert, speaker and author of "Get Financially Naked."

Do you ever feel like your possessions are holding you hostage? Or you’ve bitten off more stuff than you can chew? If so, you may be suffering from… lifestyle creep.

Lifestyle creep is a bizarre distortion of reality, where the more you have, the more you think you need:

You get a new pair of pants. But they don’t go with your old shoes. So you buy matching shoes. Then you realize you could use a new top…

It's creepy (and expensive)
Lifestyle creep can sneak up on you. Three warning signs:

  1. You have a storage unit. A startling one in 10 Americans pay to store excess stuff. As of year-end 2009, there were 2.4 billion square feet of public storage space in the U.S. If you are storing stuff, it's likely that you have too much.
  2. You're over-wired. My grandmother’s house had one phone and one TV for 4 people. No one lost a life or limb. Look around your home—how many TVs, phones or computers do you really need?
  3. You come home from shopping, and realize that you just bought… something you already have. 'Nuff said. (Note: this is sometimes called the Black Sweater Syndrome).

Bottom line
If lifestyle creep is pervading your life, it's hitting your wallet. Think before you buy. Is this where I want my money to go? Tell us how you cope with lifestyle creep.

Your move
Invest in yourself, not another sweater, k?

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