The more money you make, the more that you should be saving. A simple lifestyle offers many advantages, perhaps the most important of which is the opportunity to break free from economic slavery. The opportunity to break free from soul destroying work that you do to pay for things that you don’t really need. This is the curse of “lifestyle accretion”.  

Losing my shirt 

A couple of years into my ex-career in Finance, when I was 22 or 23, I remember how gradually I started buying more expensive white shirts to wear to work. Only when I had spent an exorbitant amount one day did I pause to consider my behaviour. What was I hoping to achieve? Feel good about myself? Impress my peers with superior shirts? I mean how noticeably different are white shirts anyway?! I certainly didn’t feel a major difference in quality myself. 

As much as I would like to justify my behaviour, the reality is that I had become a victim of lifestyle accretion. 

Lifestyle accretion is a trap

Lifestyle accretion is a term I use to describe mindless and vain consumption that slowly grows (accretes) with income. Spending just because you can, without really paying attention to why? And, it is most definitely a trap. Big time! Especially because it tends to happen gradually — a bit like the frog in boiling water that does not realise its predicament. 

Your income grows over time and with it so does your expenditure on sh*t that you just don’t need. Often including holidays and nights out that are unnecessarily expensive or, just unnecessary. And, who can resist the temptation when your peers are doing the same? The influence of advertising that pushes us to want more and to keep up with the Joneses is very real. 

Don’t waste an opportunity 

By the way, you are one of the lucky ones if lifestyle accretion applies to you. Be grateful. And, even if you are not in a situation where your income is growing, the principle of simplicity still applies. Perhaps even more so. Because consumption growth without income growth can only be made possible through debt! And, debt is very dangerous thing. For individuals, corporations and nations alike. 

It takes something 

Resisting lifestyle accretion takes something. It takes a very conscious decision to pay attention to your own behaviour and to your motivations. To pay attention to the many influences and voices that infiltrate your mind. Voices that secretly operate in the background, outside of your conscious awareness. Influencing you to embrace the fragile path of lifestyle accretion. 

Only by choosing to become aware of your own mind and challenge the many unhealthy influences in your life, can you empower yourself to break free. 


Harsha is an executive and life coach based in London. He empowers people to find more clarity, confidence and focus in their lives. Find out more about Harsha’s work.