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Would you know the answer to the question: Do you live below your means?
Earlier this week I was listening to a podcast where they were talking about how it is culturally acceptable to spend, spend, spend! Buy that new widescreen/flat screen/3D Screen TV! Buy the newest car! Buy that new piece of electronics! Buy the latest and greatest fashion line! Living within this culture where we are conditioned to overspend beyond our means, will allow us to do just that with seemingly no repercussions. I truly believe it becomes very hard to live below your means when you are immersed in a society and culture where it is acceptable to live beyond your means.
As I see it, there are a few options available to you in order to start living below and within your means. Here are five ways you can choose today to start living below your means:
1. Stop spending money
First off, it is easier said than done, but just stop spending your money altogether. Stop going out to eat. Stop buying the latest and greatest car/electronic/clothing. Even if we stopped here, at this point, you could be on track for living below your means. With the pressure of this current culture, being status quo is seems to be no longer enough. Everyone wants to be the first person who, when it comes to their Instagram account, is posting about their greatest experiences, or the newest restaurant in town, or whatever new piece of electronics they recently got. It especially makes me nervous when people talk about always spending money. I always want to interject, and ask if they have a budget, or if they are saving for retirement. . .
2. Increase your income
If you have done everything you can to cut your spending, then the next step is to figure out a way increase your income! This may include asking for a raise from your employer. But, seriously, when was the last time you had a raise? I am sure you are a great employee that goes above and beyond. Build your case, and request the meeting with your boss. It could be as easy as that!
Increasing your income could also mean you are working a side hustle. Did you know that if you started a blog, you could eventually start making money off the blog? Increasing your income could also include going through your house and purging items that are no longer useful for you. Instead of donating those items to Goodwill use Facebook Marketplace to sell them; or, apps like Poshmark (download the app and use my code for a $5 credit: EDRINAJENETTE). Another option is to drive for Uber or Lyft on the weekends, instead of watching Netflix. These are just a few ideas and options available to you.
3. Create a budget
What it really comes down to, in my opinion, the true problem lies within not having a budget and sticking to it. When it comes to living below my means, my number one takeaway that ensures I am living within my means is my budget! So, simple, right? Well, come to find out, many people do not use a budget! Which is entirely unfortunate for them because this is the number one way to ensure you are living within your means! At the very core of creating a budget is the fact that you will need to start tracking every single transaction from your bank accounts and credit cards. Making sure you are comparing what you spend to the amount of income that you are bringing in for that time period (whether it be per pay period or per month). So that at the end of that time period you will be able to identify where the bulk of your spending is going, and perhaps even drill down into a potential spending problem. That is when you should really focus and hone in on what your next steps will be.
It is no longer enough to just have a conversation about a budget. You really need to put pen to paper and work through the numbers yourself. Heck, even let a professional do that for you! I remember when I was first going to college and I was writing down every expense that I had and all of my income to figure out how to make ends meet. I remember feeling like I did not have enough income to make a meaningful budget. This left me feeling a little defeated and I did not want to continue working on my budget. But I pressed on anyway, because that is what you have to do. You have to press on in order to meet your goals.
4. Make sacrifices
When all is said and done, living below your means will certainly take some sacrifices. For myself, I have made a point to not eat out all the time. I have made a point to stick to my grocery budget as much as possible during the month. But, also, there is zero shame in shopping at the Dollar Tree! Every month, I make a point to go to the Dollar Tree for my everyday items. This saves me SO much money. Lastly, I have made a point to stay in the apartment that I am living in. This third point is probably the hardest for me right now. I have been wanting to move into a two bedroom apartment so that I can have a dedicated office space, but it does not make sense to me financially right now. Rent these days is a little ridiculous and I cannot imagine myself paying as much as they are asking for a two-bedroom. I have given myself a limit as to what I feel is acceptable to spend on my housing each month, and everything that I have seen over the past year would mean that I would be living beyond my means!
These sacrifices that we make in order to live below our means may not be easy. The way my office space is currently sitting is in my living room, which pretty much cramps my living room space. For almost half the year, I have had my couch in front of a closet because if I had it any other way there would be no room to walk! But, it is these sacrifices that I deal with so that I can live below my means. These sacrifices are conscious decisions that I have to make every single day.
5. Enlist an accountability partner
If you already know that you are not the greatest when it comes to numbers, then find someone who knows the numbers and can help. It does not even have to be a professional. Perhaps you have a trusted friend that can offer insight with an outsider’s perspective. Enlist them to be your budget accountability partner. Offer to cook them dinner and have a budget check-in session together. I have known plenty people who are very smart and capable, but also want that extra set of eyes, or a perspective of an accounting professional that they do not have. I completely and entirely respect that in them, because whether or not we want to admit it we are all human and can also make mistakes. All that to say, I am certainly not perfect and am still on this journey alongside you.
So, together, we can make living below our means socially and culturally acceptable! Who’s with me?!
This post contains affiliate links. See full disclosure here.
My thoughts on numbers, spreadsheets, money, spending, forecasting, budgeting, and everything in between. Read on!
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