Do you ever feel like your possessions are holding you hostage? Or perhaps that you’ve bitten off more stuff than you can chew?  If you’ve ever suffered the pangs of financial indigestion, you may be one of the millions of Americans suffering from… lifestyle creep.

What is Lifestyle Creep?

Not to be confused with “Keeping Up with The Joneses,” lifestyle creep occurs when the more you have, the more you think you need. Here’s an example. You get a new pair of pants. But they don’t go with your old shoes. So you have to get a new pair. Then your bottom half looks so spiffy you feel the need for fresh top. In this dandy outfit, however, you no longer look so good in your old clunker of a car so… well, you get the point. Here are 3 signs that “the creep” might be happening to you:

1. You have a public storage unit. An amazing 1 in 10 Americans have them. As of year-end 2009 there was 2.4 billion square feet of public storage space in the US. To put this in perspective, if you lumped them all together they would be 3x the size of Manhattan island – under one roof!  Yeesh, that’s a lot of stuff. If you’ve got a storage unit key jingling around in your pocket, it could be a sign that your lifestyle is literally bulging at the seams of your home.  [Big hat tip to my friend Francine Jay, author of Frugillionaire who first brought this to my attention in her wonderful blog.]

2. Your house has more toilets or TVs than occupants. My grandmother’s house had 1 toilet and 1 TV for 4 people. No one lost life or limb. Think about your home right now. How many toilets do you have? How many people are living in your home? Or do it with TVs – the point is what we as Americans think we NEED has gotten horribly confused with what we WANT.

3. You visit the mall more often than you do the grocery store. 1 in 3 Americans are obese – physically. Another 1 in 3 are like me, battling with those stubborn last 10 pounds. As a nation we do not eat nearly enough fresh veggies and fruits. I’m of Indian heritage. Growing up we visited my family in India, where going to the local vegetable stand for fresh foods was a near daily ritual (and one that kept my rellies thin & trim). Today most of us shop at the mall more often than we shop at the grocery store. As a result we’ve become financially obese as well.

Have you ever experienced lifestyle creep? If so, I’d love to hear your experiences…