How To Live Below Your Means

Posted in Minimalist on Dec 01, 2011.

Saving Money

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.

Benefits

  • 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.)
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  • http://lolitium.net/ nyuu

    I really like this post. It reminds me that more money doesn't necessarily mean I should spend like a mad woman because that's spending waaay too much on myself when there are other people I could be helping or doing things that are free. For example, a walk in the park with someone you care for… it's worth much more :)

    • http://one-parade.com Marjorie

      So true! You said it best, just because you have more money doesn't mean your life should really change too insanely. Giving back will make you feel better in the long run. :)
      My recent post Organization Project: The Kitchen

  • Alix

    Such a great post. I definitely suffered from a bad case of living at my means meaning money was fine until either my contract was up and some unexpected cost came up and then I would find myself stressing over money. I'm still learning to live below my means, with what I need instead of what I want so that I can better evaluate what I should be spending my money on. I follow a lot of the points you wrote there. I know always ask myself before buying something if it is something I really need and will I use it. I still splurge on myself but my shelf control is much better when it comes to shopping. I now find myself valuing more having money saved up versus the materialistic items I buy with it. Having savings brings me comforts and also reminds me of my life goal of buying my first place before I'm 30.

    • http://one-parade.com Marjorie

      I think we've all definitely been there… And I didn't want to live with less. But after forcing to do it after college, I'm super thankful for the money I have now and living below my means has definitely allowed me to feel security, which is worth not having the latest gadget, car, or outfit. Josh and I want to buy our first house after we get married in a year or so, so saving is hugely important for us right now!
      My recent post Minimalist Beauty for Women