The earners think there’s a level of income that renders one’s level of expenditure irrelevant. They think lifestyle creep – spending based on income, rather than on what makes life better – is a thing that happens to other people. Yet just about all high earners I’ve ever met, be they friends, clients, or the paragons of this parable, the people I met while ‘living’ in Qatar, prove the opposite. Lifestyle creep strikes hardest at the keenest income maximisers. It has to: their narrow worldview that the numbers are all important guarantees it. Those most driven to earn the big bucks are driven by a desire to spend big bucks. And those most inclined to evaluate lifestyle wants via cost, rather than costing their lifestyle wants first are by definition those most susceptible to the creep. Many a tax-free Gulf-dwelling ex-pat manages to earn, often even outright save, a million in less than a decade. However, their annual expenditure ‘needs’ can jump from 20,000 to 120,000 at the same time, while they’re still the trim side of 30. This catapults them onto the well-trodden road to the sort of money troubles that beset so many entourage-laden professional athletes. Couple compounding with lifestyle creep and the biggest hindrance to traditional financial freedom is developing expensive addictions in one’s 20s.