A few years ago my husband and I chose to face our financial situation head on. We had expensive credit card debts and loans that were costing us a fortune each month so we decided to gain control of our finances. Here are a few guidelines I’ve put together for how to successfully live below your means. I hope you find them useful.
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You’ve probably heard or used the statement ‘live within your means’ before. If you live within your means, the money you spend each month is less than or at least equivalent to the amount of money you bring in.
While the concept is familiar to most of us, the practical application of this statement can be difficult. Readily available credit cards, store cards, buy now pay later options and loans make it easy for us to spend beyond our income would allow for.
This lifestyle isn’t sustainable in the long run. The lifestyle eventually catches up with us and we’re forced to make changes in order to avoid financial ruin. The alternative is to continue overspending until it spirals out of control.
A few years ago my husband and I chose to face our financial situation head on. We had expensive credit card debts and loans that were costing us a fortune each month so we decided to gain control of our finances.
Here are a few guidelines I’ve put together for how to successfully live below your means. I hope you find them useful.
To live within your means, you need to know what your means are. It’s not enough to know your salary/hourly rate. You need to know how much is coming in. This was easy for me to do as I get paid the same amount every month. However, it was harder for my husband as he gets paid weekly and his salary varies by the number of hours worked. We worked out our budget based on the lowest amount he could earn weekly, any extra went to clearing debt.
Once we’d calculated our monthly income we worked out ways to reduce our expenditure. It took a lot of sacrifice with our spending allowances taking the biggest hit. We introduced a budget for everything including, food, petrol, children’s expenses, and subscriptions. Every expense was accounted for.
Focus on your financial goals and your reason for setting them and don’t concern yourself with other people. I wrote about this in a previous post 19 things to quit in 2019, and this was also part of the reason for my social media detox last year. Resist the pressure to have the same material things as the people around you and on your social media feeds. I know they say fake it till you make it, and you may be able to use credit cards and loans to do this for a while. But is it worth it? You’ll pay for it later, and you’ll end up paying more.
We had to boost our income in order to clear down our debts rapidly. My husband is a Gas Engineer so was able to boost our income by taking on private jobs in the evening and weekends. I’m able to generate additional income through Something Sweeter my Candy Buffet business and through this blog. I’m pleased to have already made a bit of money within my first 3 months of starting this blog.
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I understand the appeal and how easy it is to get sucked in by the compelling offers from credit card companies. But the reality is credit card money is not your money. Relying on credit cards is not living within your means. When budgeting, rule out credit cards as a way to make ends meet.
It was a great feeling when we paid off our credit card. The debt had been gradually increasing over the years and become another monthly expense. It doesn’t need to be. If you know you can’t use the credit card and pay it in full each month, steer clear.
Do you need a new car that loses 20% of its value the moment you drive it away from the dealership and costs £500 a month? Buying a used car outright with cash means you skip the stress of a car loan on top of other car expenses. You’re also more likely to get a better deal on the car if you pay cash as money talks!
People often use credit cards for large purchases they can’t afford to pay for outright. Examples of such purchases are new sofa, car or television. Instead of paying for these purchases on credit, put aside some money each month until you’ve saved up enough to buy it outright.
If you can’t afford to save up for the purchase, then you can’t afford to buy it. I read a quote which said ‘if you can’t afford to buy it twice then you can’t afford it’. The quote had a picture of an expensive car and it made think of how many times I had overstretched myself to make a purchase. Don’t make the same mistakes.
The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment was a famous study in which a group of four, five and six-year-olds were given a marshmallow and left in a room for 15 minutes with the choice of eating the marshmallow immediately, or waiting 15 minutes and then having two. Some children waited while others didn’t.
The study followed the same respondents into adulthood. Researchers discovered that the ones that were able to delay gratification were more self-motivated, had better results at school and were more psychologically well-adjusted than those who hadn’t. There is a reward in waiting, try and practice delayed gratification.
When we bought our home we made sure we didn’t overstretch ourselves by buying a place that cost the maximum amount that the bank was willing to lend us. This is a trap many people fall into, but fortunately, my husband isn’t away with the fairies like me and stuck to our agreed budget. Just because you can afford it doesn’t mean you should buy it. We got a mortgage that could be paid for with one income in case one of us lost our job.
I hope this post has given you some ideas on how to successfully live below your means. If you have any suggestions to add to this list please leave them in the comments section below.
If you enjoyed this post, ‘How To Successfully Live Below Your Means’, then you will also enjoy my other blog posts on similar topics, check them out below:
As well as drawing on personal experience for my blog posts, I also get inspiration from other amazing bloggers. Here are a few blogs that inspired this post.
Wife and mum of three boys on a journey to achieve financial freedom. Earn more, spend less and invest the difference.
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