What Is Living Below Your Means? It is more than just frugal living. You need to understand how much you have and how much you can spend. It is taking a few moments to pause when making an impulse purchase that will affect the dynamics of your life. What does living below your means look like and why is it so important?
The Importance Of Living Below Your Means
We all want to own nice things. We all want to travel to nice places. However, can we afford all that we desire? Living below our means will help to plan for many of these nice things. It will also allow you to save for your future. Your income is the single most important asset that you have to obtain the things you want and secure your future. Every penny does count because it is not always how much you make but how you spend what you make.
Those that live below their means know all about its importance. They know that overspending today can enslave future money for years depending on the expenditure. Living below your means is knowing how much of your money will be tied up in one or two purchases and for how long. Is your Mind Over Money or are you going into debt for nonessential items?
Why You Should Live Below Your Means
Living below your means enables you to keep your debt under control. It means you will have more money in your pocket. Debt-free living allows for more flexibility in your budget to make cash purchases to end the cycle of credit card debt or living by the minimum payment.
During the pandemic, Americans dropped their collective credit card balances by an amazing $157 billion per the ascent. This was mainly due to people unable to dine out, travel, shop, and doing other leisure activities. However, the trend may be short-lived as almost 50 percent of Americans say that they are willing to go into debt to treat themselves per creditcards.com survey. Think of the Roaring Twenties after the Spanish Flu of 1918. Folks just wanted to get out and have fun. You can’t blame them after the year we just experienced.
This calls to mind a great living below your means quote from Gloria Steinem:
Rich people plan for generations. Poor people plan for Saturday night.
Living Below Your Means Starts With Deciding To Get Out Of Debt
After basically being forced to reduce debt it would be a shame if folks decided not to stay out of debt. Thereby, returning to a state of indebtedness. Hence, losing their freedom and increasing worry again. Not to mention jeopardizing their opportunity to increase wealth. We have to decide that debt in any form is not good for us financially. It takes away choices like traveling, changing careers, or moving to a better location. Also, the process of saving and waiting to make the desired purchase not only teaches you how to save but it teaches patience. You will learn a greater appreciation from something you took the time to save for. Living below your means allows you to delight in the anticipation of achieving the goal of purchasing without added debt, guilt, or anxiety. The cost of debt can have a lasting impact on your future income.
The Cost Of Debt and Living below Your Means
The cost of debt not only includes the interest you will pay over time but also the loss of income from the money that could have been invested. And even if you don’t invest now you are losing interest from just a simple savings account. Use this handy Cost-of-Debt Calculator to determine the cost of your debt. Now use this Simple Compound Interest Calculator to determine the lost interest from not investing. Since there is no such thing as good debt it should be avoided at all cost. However, if you find yourself in debt it is time to adjust your relationship with debt.
Time To Define Your Relationship With Debt
No matter how great the deal is or the experience it is not worth going into debt. How do you define your relationship with debt? Is it a one-night stand where you get in and get out of the relationship as quickly as possible? Or is it a lifetime commitment where you cannot see your way out of debt? I have encountered many people who are willing to accept that they will never get out of debt. It is now part of their life. I was once there but decided that I wanted out of this bad relationship.
So I created a budget and a payoff schedule. I decided that being in debt was not an option. So I cut back spending, eliminating unnecessary expenses, and aggressively began to pay down the debt. Within a short time, it was all gone. The multiple credit card bills, student loans, and car notes. We are now working on paying off the house. With a plan, it can be done. For me, it started with a personal balance sheet and living below my means.
Creating A Personal Balance Sheet
Begin by taking stock in what you owe and what you make. This is your Personal Balance sheet. List all your debt with an anticipated pay-off date. I prefer a combination of the snowball and avalanche methods to pay off the balances. Some quick wins with the smaller balances to get them off my sheet. Then, I started with the snowball. Paying off one at a time by combining the paid-off balance’s payment with the payment for the next credit card. For more details about this read Being Financially Sound for more details about how to get out of debt. To eliminate student loans we decided to live off one income and use the second income to pay off that debt. I have never really concentrated on personal budget categories when creating my spending plan but I am mindful of them being benchmarks to live by. I just keep track of the big ones.
Personal Budget Categories – The Big Ones.
I believe to live below your means you need to keep track of the big-ticket items such as housing, car loans, and savings. These are the three big-ticket items that make the other items such as food, utilities, insurance, and personal expenses unaffordable. If you are over the recommended guidelines for housing, car loans then that leaves nothing to save and barely anything for other living expenses.
Housing should not exceed 30 percent of your income
Auto loans should be at or below 10 percent of your income
Savings should be at least 20 percent of your income
To make it more simplistic follow the 50/30/20 rule 50% on necessities, 30% on the things you desire, and 20% on savings. Where necessities can be your home, car note, utilities, and food. 30% of wants can be considered items such as entertainment, leisure activities, etc. Finally, the 20% should be saved for your emergency fund, big purchases, retirement, education. This is a great rule since it allocates 100% of your income to your lifestyle.
Creating A Budget Is How To Live Below Your Means
Create a budget so you can begin to control your spending, keep track of all your purchases especially the small ones. They can add up quickly when you spend $5 here and another $10 there. Before you know it you have dropped $50 without even noticing. Go through all your bills and begin to eliminate unnecessary expenses and subscriptions. This is how to live below your means.
Finally, take a look at your income because, if you are not making at least a living wage all of these expenses can strain your basic budgeting endeavors. You may want to consider obtaining an additional income from a second job or simply explore possible side gigs. If this is not an option consider looking for a new job or industry that pays higher wages. Here is a list of high-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree from The Balance Careers. However, is this enough to live below your means what more should you consider?
What Is Considered Living Below Your Means
To live below your means typically means that you try to keep more of your income than you spend. The goal should be to keep 50% or more. That 50%+ should go towards saving and investing. At this point, your money will begin to work for you in overdrive with compounding interest. Compounding interest works best the younger you can start, the 20s, 30s, and even 40s. Time to make the decision.
Deciding What You Can Live Without
You have to decide to want to live below your means. It requires self-discipline and fortitude. You are in this for the long haul. Decide today to begin by paying off all debt. You will have to decide what you can live without for now to reach your goal. It may require you to also wait a little longer for the things you do want. Like having to save for a big-ticket item i.e. new car, house, or a vacation. This is how you can successfully live below your means. Taking the time to save to purchase the finer things in life. Once you have made all these decisions getting to living within your means becomes that much easier to achieve.
Debt Is Paid Time To Party
Wait just a minute, it is time to build wealth this is the main benefit of living below your means. It is not a get-rich-quick scheme but a planned strategy for your future. This is what makes living below your means worth it. Achieving all your dreams and maintaining a debt-free status. Nothing is more satisfying than purchasing something where it is paid in full while you are using it. Besides, the new adulting is building your Net Worth. Learn more by reading Wealth Accumulation.
Let’s recap What Does Living Below Your means Look like:
1. Decide to live below your means
2. Create a Budget
3. Eliminate Debt with a Payoff Schedule
4. Eliminate Non-Essential Expenses
5. Keep Expenses within 50/30/20 Rules
6. Strive to save up to 50% of income
7. Build Wealth by Investing
Don’t get discouraged as life can happen that prevents you from staying on plan. Be flexible to pivot and then get back on track.
Let’s Budget, Spend, and Live!