How to Live Successfully Below Your Means: Have you ever wondered why so many individuals advocate “living below your means”? Here’s an in-depth look at the financial lifestyle that allows your money to stretch further.
You’ve definitely heard the phrase “living above your means,” but have you ever considered doing the opposite? One of the best tactics for living an economical, balanced lifestyle is to focus on living below your means — that is, not regularly maxing up your wallet or credit cards and not counting down the days until your next paycheck.
Living within your means entails not only how you spend money, but also how you save, invest, and organize your personal finances. You’ll be able to live a less stressful lifestyle and more financial freedom than ever before if you change your spending patterns to focus on having more savings and less debt.
Are you interested in learning more about living within your means and what it can do for your financial situation? Let’s get started.
How to Live Successfully Below Your Means
1. Examine your present spending
To begin living below your means, you must first understand how you currently spend your money. This includes not only non-essential products that you may overpay on, but also your monthly recurrent expenses.
These monthly expenses will include things like rent, groceries, and perhaps utility bills. Transportation expenses (such as gas or bus money) and other monthly bills, such as insurance payments, minimum credit card payments, and student loan payments, may also be included in your spending.
Begin by listing all of your monthly expenses and summing them up to get a complete picture of your present spending. It’s fine if you don’t have a precise figure, but knowing your monthly spending total will help you take the next steps toward improving your finances.
2. Reduce unnecessary spending
With your list of monthly expenses in hand, it’s time to eliminate all the superfluous ones. What constitutes a needless expenditure? That is entirely up to you, however here are a few examples to get you started:
Examine how much you spend each month on items like movies, video games, and even books. Is it all really necessary? Consider obtaining a membership service instead of going to the movies, or begin visiting your local library to save the most money. Perhaps you have subscription services that you aren’t even using and should stop paying for.
Restaurants: While most people enjoy ordering take-out and going out for date evenings, if restaurants and bars account for a significant portion of your costs, it may be time to take a long break from them.
Shopping for pleasure: Some of us collect clothing, while others collect shoes, hats, or even collectibles. Whatever your shopping vice is, it’s a good category of spending to consider when considering what to cut.
If you’re having trouble determining where you might be able to cut back on spending, consider using an app that can assist you. Truebill and other services can help you uncover your spending habits and give recommendations on where and when to reduce back.
3. Look for ways to cut costs.
People frequently overlook this stage, especially because it’s easy to forget that the price of items such as electricity bills and insurance premiums isn’t fixed. There are some reoccurring bills that consumers do not think to renegotiate.
Fortunately, there are numerous ways to reduce your monthly costs. You may use an app to assist you discover which costs can be reduced, or you could do the research yourself. Take some time to call out to local suppliers and see if they can offer competitive pricing, just like you would when looking for the best insurance rates or internet package.
Simply modifying your consumption habits can help you save money on utilities. This could involve taking shorter showers, turning down the heat when you’re not home, and shutting off lights that aren’t in use.
If your most expensive costs are for items other than utilities, such as groceries, you can consider adjusting your shopping habits. Shopping in bulk, as well as using one of the best credit cards for groceries, can all help you save money on your regular grocery bills and cut your spending just enough to make a difference.
4. Make a budget
Now that you know what you’re spending your money on and have cut some expenses from your normal bills, it’s time to make a plan for your future expenses.
Budgeting, contrary to common assumption, does not have to be some sort of ultra-frugal lifestyle that takes the fun out of shopping. In truth, the finest budgets aren’t the most stringent, but the ones you can stick to in the long run. This means that your ideal budget will find a balance between paying your bills, saving for the vital things, and having some disposable income for enjoyment.
There are numerous ways to construct a budget, and you should educate yourself on your options. Set some financial goals for yourself once you’ve decided on a budgeting approach. This could involve things like increasing your monthly retirement savings or limiting your non-essential spending budget. Whatever you can do to live more frugally will eventually bring you closer to living within your means.
5. Keep track of spending
With a budget in place, it’s time to start paying closer attention to your spending. Now is an excellent time to start recording your monthly spending and comparing it to your budget.
If the numbers don’t add up, you may need to change your budget to more reasonable levels. Perhaps this entails allocating more money to everyday expenses and less to long-term savings. This could happen for a variety of reasons, particularly if the prices of items on which you rely, such as gas or public transit, rise.
The most important aspect of this phase is to be truthful with yourself. Is it truly necessary to re-evaluate your budget? Is it because you need to cut back on your spending? Examine your spending habits and be honest when assessing whether the discrepancy in your budget is merely a result of needing to cut down even more.
6. Use credit cards with caution
Another critical component of living within your means is adjusting your credit card usage habits. Although it may be tempting to max out credit limits and live month to month simply paying credit card monthly minimums, this isn’t the ideal way to use your credit. This high rate of credit utilization may also have an adverse effect on your credit score.
Credit cards should ideally be used to spend only the money you have available, and you should pay your account in full every month. By restricting your credit card use to spending only the money you have available, you will be able to get reward points or cash back without falling into debt or incurring exorbitant interest rate charges. This means that credit cards may save you money rather than cost you money.
Resist the impulse to accumulate credit card debt, and you’ll be one step closer to living comfortably within your means.
7. Put money aside for savings
Even if you’re living below your means, you want to make sure you’re saving money for the big things, like retirement, a house, or an emergency fund. You can allocate more of your money to reaching these savings goals if you reduce your costs. You can also better deal with any unforeseen bills or job losses if you save.
Using automated savings is an excellent habit. This can be done using multiple apps or even within your own bank. Savings automation can assist you in depositing a set amount of money into your bank account each month. You won’t have to remember to make the deposit because it will happen automatically on a day of your choosing.
In addition to automating your savings, you need have the correct kind of savings accounts. The greatest savings accounts will either pay you interest or will not charge you any fees.
Set up regular reminders to check in on your progress after you’ve established your savings goals. These might be monthly or quarterly, but the point is to ensure that you’re on track and working toward a more secure financial future.
8. Begin a side business
If all of your budgeting and financial planning still leaves you feeling like your monthly income is insufficient, it may be time to start a side job.
Side jobs can be a terrific way to supplement your income while doing something you enjoy. Perhaps you enjoy spending time with animals, volunteering in your community, or simply driving about in your car. Whatever your passions are, there are numerous side hustles to pursue.
Because you can devote as few or as many hours as you choose to a side hustle, you have complete control over how much money you make. By increasing the limitations, this extra money can go a long way toward assisting you in living below your means. If you’re not sure where to begin, consider
9. Downsizing your living arrangement.
Downsizing your living circumstances is another approach to get your finances under control. We sometimes don’t know how much we’re paying to live in our large house or multi-bedroom apartment. Keep in mind that larger homes are not only more expensive to rent or mortgage, but they often have higher utility expenses.
Consider how much satisfaction your current living situation truly provides, and whether you require all that space or could be pleased in a smaller home. If you think downsizing would be a viable option for you, plan your next move carefully. Consider living somewhere where you can save money on petrol by walking or biking more, or even utilizing public transportation.
Downsizing can take various forms, so think about what you’re paying for and how vital they actually are in your current lifestyle. For example, instead of buying a new car, you may save up for a used car.