This is basically a look at how to live within your means.
I recently read a quote by Mary Ellen Edmunds who is a nurse, author and mission worker which really rings true and gave me some food for thought. I also remember this quote from the movie Fight Club – so not sure who originally said it in honesty!
“We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.”
I am definitely guilty of this as I am sure you are too. I would say that living above our means is one of the hardest things to avoid in a twenty-first century world and it all starts with changing your priorities.
What is your definition of rich?
What does it mean to you to be rich? Everyone differs here but in order to live within your means you may need to rethink this one. This may come naturally as you start to have a family and likely your priorities will change.
Use a budget
To live within your means you need to spend less than what you make. This is logical but most of us don’t do it. Find your exact income and subject all your expenses from it. If there are things you can cut out of your expenses or reduce do it.
Stop relying on credit
We need to learn to stop relying on credit cards to pay for things. If you need to use a credit card you can’t afford to buy it. If you don’t have the card you cant rack up debt.
So that being said to stop relying on your credit cards you need to start saving for purchases if you cannot afford them from your pay check.
Set up an emergency fund
Keep this one separate to your other savings. You should build up a cash stash so that you have enough to cover any unforseen emergency expenses. Aim for about 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses.
Don’t be afraid to switch
Companies are becoming more and more competitive for your business. Every year you need to reassess how much you are paying on things like gas, electricity, phone, insurances and even your home loan. Research around and don’t be afraid to change to get a better deal. If you can use any money reductions and put it in your savings.
Keeping up with the Joneses
It is hard to not want what you see others have. But I love that mastercard priceless ad where the little baby plays with the box instead of the expensive toy. Somewhere along the way we changed. You might be able to show others you are “rich” but you are going to end up in debt doing it. And you probably will have a whole lot more problems like stress and depression.
Never pay retail
Utilise the sales or discount shopping to buy your clothes and save you money. If someone notices your bag is from last season well they probably are pretty superficial and fickle.
Have a long term strategy
It is easy to get deterred on your savings and investment because we want everything now. You need to set up a long term strategy which matches some long term goals. This is a slow process but will set you up later on especially in retirement.
Avoid going to the shopping centres
Shopping centres are gold mines for shops to entice you to use your money. It is weird how now days if you have nothing to do you go to the shopping centre. But this means you end up spending money you didn’t intend to. Avoid them and find another way to curb your boredom like getting a bunch of friends and playing a game of soccer in the park.
Find ways to share
One of the easiest ways to save money is to avoid going to the movies or renting a DVD by sharing with your friends. This can go for books and magazines too.
Avoid impulse buying
Impulse buying can be fun and exciting but this usually quickly wears off (and may leave you in debt). Impulse buying can be very hard to manage but once you take some steps to curb your spending it just becomes part of your mindset.
Keep your car as long as you can
It is hard not to want a brand spanking new car every now an then. I find this is particularly so for the men in my life. But it you want to live within your means you need to hang onto your car as long as possible. The depreciation on new cars starts when you drive it out of the showroom-you are never going to make money, just lose it.
If you can’t afford to live where you are and are struggling to meet your mortgage payments you may need to consider moving somewhere cheaper or downsizing. This can be a hard thing to face for many people. Even one suburb over can make a massive difference in prices.