There was a wise illustration I once heard regarding living within one’s means, the illustration went like so. Imagine you have a bag with a hole in it and you have the job to keep the bag inflated at all times. How would you do it? Well, as long as you can blow the same amount of volume into the bag as much as the amount escaping through the hole, you can keep the bag inflated.
This is what is meant by living within one’s means. The air that is getting blown into that bag is your income, your expenses is the air getting sucked out of that hole. So we don’t want to allow our expenses to get bigger than what our income can support.
Living within our means is something that is far from the American culture. From early childhood, we are bombarded with advertisement after advertisement to incite us to want more and more. And if we do not have the cash for it, that’s okay because we have plastic. However, the first step to saving money is having the proper mindset, the proper view. Having the proper view can help us avoid many financial woes in the future. Here are 5 ways to help us be content.
Have a Budget
Creating a budget is the first step to help us know where we stand financially. Having a budget will help us keep track of our income and our expenses. We need to know where is our hard-earned money going. Take an afternoon and sit down either alone or with your significant other and start writing everything down. Start with your income, then move on to the expenses. When listing expenses start with necessities. Things you cannot live without. Such as rent or mortgage, utilities, insurance, food, etc.
Listing out the necessities of life first will help keep our priorities in check. Of course, we want to be realistic and make sure to add our creature comforts into our budget. We all need a healthy diversion at times. Perhaps it is a yearly family vacation. Well, we can add this to the budget and as we have funds left over each month allocate them to the family vacation. The importance is to understand the difference between necessities and wants. And be sure to allocate funds to the necessities first before to our wants. This may be the unpopular view but it will help us get out of debt or simply save for our first home.
Keep It Simple
When I was dating my husband, he took me out for dinner at a fine restaurant. He really wanted to treat me to my favorite, lobster. It was one of those restaurants you can pick your own lobster from the tank. Oh, how excited I was to pick my very own lobster. Of course, not thinking about the cost, I picked the largest one in the tank. Being the largest lobster, I of course got full only after about eating half of it. I would’ve been just fine picking a lobster half the size and still have leftovers to take home.
The point I did not keep it simple that night. Not content with just having lobster, I had to get the biggest one. It was my poor boyfriend that had to pay for my indulgence. It wasn’t until years later after we were married I found out I had picked out a $70 dollar lobster! I’m surprised he kept me after all that.
While we all need our little indulgences to be met once in a while. It’s important to be content living simply if we are going to save money. Whatever our kryptonite may be if we have habits of luxury living, the air in our bag can be escaping faster than we can blow.
Avoid Keeping Up With the Joneses
We all may be a little guilty of this at some point in our lives. When we see our neighbors’ fancy new siding or our co-workers’ sleek new car we may be tempted to think if they have it I should have it too. Let’s face it though this thinking can lead to financial ruin. Especially if we are not ready to take on that second mortgage just to out-do our neighbors.
Keep in mind many people go deeper into debt each year just to get the next newest greatest thing. Avoid doing so by being content with your current situation. Perhaps that means putting up with an older car or not having the latest smartphone. But as people go deeper into debt you are climbing out of it. Which will help you further down the road in life.
So when that fancy new car goes speeding by you in your work parking lot. Be happy for them. And be happy that is once less bill you have to pay. This can go a long way to avoid unnecessary debt.
There are so many ways to be thrifty. I have more listed out in my other article ‘Ways to Save’. Touching briefly on this topic one of the best ways to be thrifty is saving before spending. Although it may seem old-fashioned, saving up before making a purchase is actually one of the wisest ways to keep out of financial debt. Restricting credit card use to emergencies only can help us avoid unnecessary debt also.
When we need to make big purchases look for deals or coupons. Scan the web regularly until you find a good deal. Take advantage of huge shopping days such as Black Friday 2021 or Cyber Monday 2021. Many times merchants will sell products close to cost knowing they will make it up in volume that day.
Listen to Advice
Advice from others can help so much in this regard. Ask your friends what they do to help keep them on track with their budget. Do you have older ones in your life, such as grandparents? If so take advantage of the years of wisdom they have to offer. Do not overlook these ones they have survived much harder times than we have and can offer a wealth of knowledge.
Many people agree that the most valuable things in life are family and health. By learning to be content and spending less, affords us more time to spend with our loved ones and can improve our health and overall well-being.