How to live Within your Means

It’s not very popular to live within your means these days. Everywhere you look someone is standing there, ready to hand you another credit card, or advertising that you can get what you want NOW with 12/24/36 easy payments of X amount of dollars.

live within your means

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It’s no wonder people get sucked in. They make it sound so good. Plus, even though we know deep down we shouldn’t be trying to keep up with the Joneses, the temptation can cause us to give in.

All it takes is our social media feed to make us weak. It is so easy to see what others have, what kinds of trips they are taking, and all of a sudden we start spending on those things too, even though we may not have the money for it.  We think that somehow buying things will make us happy.

Before we know it we’re in over our head. We aren’t sleeping at night, trying to figure out how we are going to pay all our bills. Soon enough that fancy new furniture we put on a payment plan, or that vehicle that had payments that were a little more than we really could afford doesn’t seem worth it.

But often by that point it’s easy to feel like there’s no going back. You may feel stuck. Like it’s too late.

Can I tell you something?

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE.

If there is anything I hope people learn from my blog, it’s that it is never too late to fix your finances. It’s never too late to change your life. It’s never too late to take a different road.

I know that from personal experience.

And so, if you are living above your means, but want the financial peace that comes with living within your means, well, there’s some things you can do to get there.

I’m going to be straight up honest with you. Some of those things are going to hurt. They are going to take sacrifice. They are going to feel like it isn’t worth it.

There will be days you feel like you are making no progress at all. Heck, there will be days you will feel like you are actually taking two steps backwards.

But, if you stick with it, for the long haul, it will pay off. Literally.

When it comes to fixing finances, it’s more of a marathon, not a sprint. You most likely didn’t get into financial trouble overnight, and it’s not going to miraculously be better in one night.

It will take days, weeks, months, and even years depending on your circumstance, to get where you want to be.

There is a quote by Karen Lamb that says, “a year from now you will have wished you had started today.”  That’s a serious truth bomb right there.

One of the first things you need to do to get a better handle of your finances is to live within your means. If you aren’t living below your means you will never get ahead.

For many people it isn’t easy to do that, especially when the cost of living keeps rising. It’s going to take some serious creativity, and like I said above – sacrifice.

But, if you are tired of doing the same old thing and expecting different results – if you are ready to really do the work, then this post is for you.

HOW TO LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS

Make a budget.

The first thing you want to do is get everything down in writing when it comes to what bills you need to pay each month, and what your monthly income is. You can get a budget sheet when you sign up for my mailing list below to help get you started.

Track all your expenses for a month. Can I be real here? Sometimes we aren’t very honest with ourselves when it comes to what we are really spending. If you are not living within your means, you want to track every single expense you make for a month. This way you can look at where your money is going. You may be surprised at how much money you are spending in certain areas that you didn’t realize you were.

Start making cuts.

This is where it’s going to hurt. Once you track your expenses and you have a realistic budget of what you can afford, it’s time to cut things out. This may be things as simple as eating out (because we all know that’s a big one that many overspend on) or you may have to start cutting things like Netfix or Hulu.

This is where people have a hard time making the changes. We tend to come up with reasons why we “need” things like Netflix, but the truth of the matter is, if it’s causing us to overspend it needs to go.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me – there is nothing wrong with having Netflix or Hulu. We have a Netflix account ourselves. Those things only become a problem when we don’t have enough income to cover the cost.

And really, I am picking on Netflix here, but it can be anything. Too much junk food from the grocery store, or too many shopping sprees for things that are not necessities at the budget stores like Dollarama. We tend to think we are frugal if we shop at places like the Dollar store, but it doesn’t take long to spend 30-40 dollars there. Do that only twice a month and you can be spending 80 dollars!

So, bottom line, it’s time to cut things that are not a necessity until your budget reveals you have more income than expenses.

Save money on necessities.

Now that you’ve cut the extras, it’s time to look at the necessities in your budget. Of course you still need things like food to eat, electricity for your home, and insurance for your car. However, you may be overpaying for those things and can find ways to pay less.

Here are ways you can save money:

For groceries – Some of the most common ways to save money on groceries is to shop at budget stores, shop the sales, buy discounted food when you can, and use coupons. One of my favorite coupon apps to use is CHECKOUT51 because you can download it right onto your phone, and you get cashback after uploading your receipts. No coupons to cut, yet it works the same way.

For insurance – If you are not sure if you are overpaying for insurance, it’s time to shop around. About a year ago we finally looked into other insurance companies after being with the same one for 15 years. We discovered that we were paying significantly more than we could be paying if we switched companies. We are now paying way less.

For Vehicles – If you have a very large vehicle payment, or are paying for a gas-guzzler, you may consider downsizing to a smaller vehicle.

Use the cash envelope method. The cash envelope system is a budgeting system where you put cash in various envelopes for different categories in your budget.  The idea is that once the money is gone for the month, it’s gone and you have to wait until the following month to replenish it.  This is a great way to avoid spending money you don’t have.

Add in a side hustle to your life.  Sometimes we’ve cut all the extras from our budget, we’ve pinched as many pennies as we could, and there just isn’t enough money to live within our means.  It may be time to find a way you can make some extra cash on the side.  You can try blogging, or check out this post with a list of side hustles if you want to make an extra $500 a month.

STOP TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH THE JONESES

There’s a popular line out there that says not to keep up with the Joneses because the Joneses are broke. I’m not going to say that. Frankly, I don’t know if the Joneses are broke or not. I don’t know if they really can afford all their fancy new stuff or whether they’ve got debt up to their eyeballs.

What I do know is that it’s not really any of my business. What IS my business is MY finances, and in the end it if I am overspending and getting myself into trouble, well, it won’t be the Joneses problem. It’ll be mine.

I am not the Joneses. And maybe you aren’t either. (unless, of course, your last name really is Jones. 🙂 ) We need to be content with who we are, and what lifestyle we can afford. That doesn’t mean you can’t strive for something that requires more money to acquire, but what it does mean is that you do the work to get there, and you learn to be content in the waiting instead of just buying yourself the things you want on credit and hoping it will sort itself out in the end, because chances are high that it won’t.

Happiness is not found in what more you can buy or how much stuff you can accumulate. If it was we’d never have depressed millionaires or distraught billionaires.

I can tell you, though happiness isn’t found in money, there is a peace that you feel when you can pay your bills, and when you aren’t struggling with a large amount of consumer debt.  Going to bed at night without worrying how you will pay the mortgage each month is worth living within your means.

 

2 thoughts on “How to live Within your Means”

  1. I had always kind of assumed that everyone had a nicer house and furniture than we do until we started looking for a downsize house. What I found was that I was dead wrong even though we are cobbled together with family castoffs and used furniture bought from newspaper ads and thrift stores. You definitely cannot believe what you see on the web and Pinterest is the worst for making me believe that I need new this and that.

    1. I have definitely been in circles where everyone had a brand newly built home and new furniture. But I think when we end up in those circles we think EVERYONE else lives like that when it isn’t true. A few years ago we changed circles, mostly based on moving and being in a new church, and we were SHOCKED to discover so many other people living just like us. It was refreshing. 🙂 Nothing against anyone who buys new furniture or new homes at all – if they can afford it they should feel fine deciding what they want to do with their money. It was just nice to finally not be the only one with the used, eclectic mix of furniture! 🙂

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