Living within your means is the secret to success. Right? I disagree! I think living below your means is the way to go. Be the cheap-o, the coupon-er, the deal-getter. Be conscious of where your money is going.
Josh and I drove from Florida to California to start a new life here right out of college, and it hasn’t been easy. We adjusted to living within such a small income because we had to. Since then, Josh has gotten a pay raise and I’ve also started working. But it doesn’t matter, because we generally try to live the same way we did before all of that happened.
You may think I’m crazy. Most of the time I would agree, but here’s why I think this works and how you can get there.
- Savings. Spending a lot less money than what you’re making means you will have money left sitting in your bank account. This lets you save for essentials like emergencies (you should always have an emergency fund!) and also lets you save for goodies you may be wanting to buy in the future.
- Quality. When you’re keeping an eye on your money, you’re probably paying more attention to what you’re buying. You buy things knowing they will have a purpose and it’s truly what you’re looking for.
- Purpose. You’re not buying things just because you have the money to, while others go without. And that’s a pretty good feeling.
- Donating. Maybe you even have enough to donate to something you feel strongly about. Wouldn’t that be better than buying something you didn’t really care for?
- Smarts. I go into places with coupons and walk away paying less than the person in front of me who paid full price. I also notice a lot of people don’t read the fine print on coupons and don’t realize when stores accept expired coupons or if you’re allowed to use more than one. Know your stuff! You can end up saving a lot just being savvy.
How to do it
- Don’t adjust. Did you get a pay raise? Congrats! But still stick to your current budget. It’s easy to adjust to your income level, but once you live below what you’re making it’s easier to stick to than to stop when you’ve gone too far.
- Prioritize. Savings or credit card debt should be taken care of the minute you get paid, not at the end of the month. That way it’s taken care of. Because it is, after all, the most important thing next to food and the roof over your head. You pay rent every month, and you should pay your bank account too!
- Cut out. Look at what you pay for every month and see how you can alter or cut out some things that are keeping you from being under budget. For me this is usually subscription services and gourmet coffee.
- Save up. When I want something expensive I put money in a special place to save up for it. Paying a few bucks each month is easier than paying the entire chunk at once. Can’t wait? Sell your valuables online and see if you can make up for some difference, or try and look for a savings deal in your area.
- Treat yourself. Finally, it’s okay to buy a few things that make you happy. That is of course after you put money into savings and make sure you’re out of debt. Otherwise, those things should take priority. Once they’re taken care of for the month, there’s nothing wrong with a little indulgence! (Which in my case, probably still involves coupons.)