How to Live Below Your Means

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Do you ever have to worry about whether you will have enough money to make it till Friday? Or maybe you feel like you’ll never get ahead? These circumstances can add a lot of unnecessary strain and anxiety on you, but you don’t have to continue living this way.

If you’re ready to make a few drastic changes in your life to change your direction, please read on. Here are several ways on how to live below your means.

How To Live Below Your Means

Start with a Budget

One of the best ways to live below your means is to get a budget in place. This will help you see what exactly is going out of your account for expenses and what is coming in for income each month.

Make a list of all your bills, monthly payments, food expenses, utilities, and so forth. Now this is one of my favorite ways of how to live below your means. 

To determine whether you are living below your means, subtract all your monthly expenses from your monthly income. If there’s money left over at the end of the month, you are living below your means.   

Keep Tabs on Your Spending 

Some people pay very little attention to their bank account to monitor any spending they do over a period of time. This can be disastrous in a small amount of time if the money going out exceeds what is coming in. If you fall into this category, it’s time to break this habit.

By paying closer attention to your bank statements and your online banking activity, you’ll be much more aware of your finances and if someone somehow gains access to your account.  

Make Smarter Purchases

There comes a season when you need to get yourself new clothing, shoes, or even a car. The most important thing that you can do is to consider purchasing items that will have lasting value.

Look at it from the perspective of what’s the best option so you can get you the most out of it over time? 

For starters, you may have to surrender the idea of always having to purchase name brand things. You’re paying far too much for a name and a product that’s not necessarily any better than what you would find at Kohls or JCPenney. 

When it comes to purchasing a car, brand new is not always the way to go. Cars certainly aren’t a good investment from a financial point of view due to the loss in value over time. The depreciation after only one year is surprising, and based on the average car owner, you’ll only have it for about the life of the loan you take out to buy it.

So why not purchase a vehicle that you can buy for only a fraction of the new car cost and you can get the same amount of miles out of the deal? It’s all about looking at an item’s value and making smarter purchasing decisions because of it.    

Stop with the Careless Spending 

There’s nothing wrong with having the occasional latte from Starbucks, or taking your family out to dinner every so often. The same goes for a manicure, buying a new pair of shoes, or other things that you indulge in with your money. But all these things begin to add up over time, and can do so quickly. 

As painful as it sounds, you can save your family a ton of money by making little decisions like making your own pot of coffee each morning, packing your lunch for work, and having some girlfriends over to help each of you get the manicure or pedicure that you’re in dire need of. 

If you struggle with careless spending, try making a list of everything that is important to you and separate them from the bad spending habits that you’d be willing to give up.

By writing them down on paper, you’ll be able to visualize exactly where your money is being wasted and be able to say no to those areas easier. 

Consider Downsizing Your Home

Smaller Home

This one may be painful to read, but it’s true. If you’re living in a home that’s outside your means because of its size, location, or has too much yard, remember that you’re paying too much not only on your monthly house payment, but also on taxes, utilities, insurance, and maintenance.

Living in a home that you can actually afford and still live comfortably will allow you to save and invest your money elsewhere. 

Negotiate your Expenses 

Most of your expenses are set in stone, like your car payment, utilities, and insurance. But what about your cable bill or even your credit card interest rate? Most of these companies want to keep you as a customer and are willing to negotiate to ensure that happens. 

You can ask for a lower rate or package of services in both of these situations, and if they are unwilling to negotiate with you, it’s time to find a new company that will. You could always have a credit card transfer with a lower interest rate so that you can get out of debt faster.   

Get a Part-time Job 

Getting a part-time job is also one option you could think about. It doesn’t have to be an ideal dream job, just one that you can have to help your family tuck away money while your other income provides sufficient income to cover your monthly obligations. 

Live Off of One Income 

Living off of one income to cover necessary expenses is certainly getting harder to do these days, but making it a goal to get your family as close to it as possible is a great start.

By doing so, you’ll be able to use one income for all of your expenses and necessary purchases, while the other can be put towards long term savings and retirement.  

Steer Away from Credit Cards 

Credit Cards

People that live below their means also stay away from using a credit card, and if they do, they make sure that it’s paid off before the interest expense becomes a huge burden.

Some people only use credit cards for emergencies, but it’s better if you were to have an emergency fund set up so you wouldn’t have to. There are times you’ll need a credit card, like when you rent a car while on vacation, but to use one daily to cover expenses that should be covered with regular income is a real mistake.

Save Save Save 

Living below your means allows you to save instead of living paycheck to paycheck. Consider getting yourself an automatic transfer set up to separate your savings from your checking account and have an amount moved from checking to savings on a regular basis. Check with your financial institution to see how to make that happen automatically.

This can help keep you from the temptation of spending what you’ve been saving because you’d have the guilt of reaching into an account that shouldn’t be messed with.

Final Word

Even if you’re willing to do only a handful of these tips, you’ll begin to see real change taking place in a short amount of time. It’s not that you have to live a completely boring dull life, but you’ll find out what’s truly important and that will last.

What are some other ways that you’ve found to live below your means? Please fill the holes in your food storage if you have any. I realized I had a few items I was short on and I’m stocking up BIG time. We must be prepared. May God bless this world, Linda

Copyright Images: Piggy Bank Deposit photos_179290502_s-2019,House and Piggy Bank Deposit photos_21683395_s-2019, Credit Cards Depositphotos_8762109_s-2019

17 thoughts on “How to Live Below Your Means

  • May 30, 2020 at 10:18 am
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    I live alone and my house is all electric. The hot water heater is a huge power expense. For the past many years I flip the switch at the electric box to off. When I want to take a shower or have a wash load of dirty clothes and a dishwasher load, I flip the switch back on. It takes around a half hour to an hour to heat the 50 gallon tank because it isn’t that cold with water still left from the previous heating. I do all my hot water needed things. Then flip the switch back off. In other words it isn’t heating all the time, day and night 365 days and nights a year. With the money saved I invested in solar and battery lights and, what a godsend when the power goes out. I also invested in a battery operated cd/tv player.
    Another thing, I do anything that requires a lot of light during the daylight hours except for my nightly TV viewing. I eat my meals, shower, garden, do my canning, clean house etc. With all the money saved from this I have stocked up on food besides my canned food, paper goods, meds, vitamins, meats, etc. which I can to save freezer space for berries etc.
    For a few years I made a list of what I needed and a driving plan to save on gas as it was high.
    I get several cans of gasoline when it is cheaper in winter and put additive in it. It lasts a year for my mowers. I don’t have to worry about when the gas gets higher in the spring and summer.
    I did all this and many other things because I knew my SS wouldn’t be that much and, now, with the Pandemic, I have been home for 9 weeks because I am on oxygen and have even been stocking up more with the help of a younger friend and Knowing in my heart that times are not good and will not be a whole lot better for quite some time. Now, because of all the extreme measures I took for several years when I was strong and well, I can relax more and have the wherewith-all to be able to afford what I want and need. It was worth every bit of doing without then.
    One last thing. I got a glass, electric teapot that I heat water in to do dishes or small things that need cleaning. It is right next to the kitchen sink and saves turning on hot water heater. It heats in seconds. I still flip the switch.
    I feel extremely lucky that I live in the woods on a long dirt road and no cars passing. Lots of wild animals and email and the net.
    I am not the type that likes to answer my phone whenever anyone calls or answer emails etc at anyone else’s beck and call. I have a wifi “Tracphone” that I pay under 100.00 a year for. I can use it anywhere that has wifi and anymore that is everywhere. I do not see the need to pay $30., $40. $50. or more a month. For what.? I am doing the same thing they are. I can make and receive calls, message, Facebook, go on the net etc. Less than $100. a year.
    Yes. I know this is long, but I want people to know, There are ways to live, VERY well that really don’t hurt one bit. Don’t get that $5.00 Latte. Buy some paper towels and have your coffee at home. I didn’t eat out because, Frankly, my Pizza is better. My chicken is better, etc. So, I eat at home. I do not believe in credit cards. It’s cash, check or debit card for me. When I buy something I want to know that is the end of the transaction. I won’t be getting a big bill later that I got carried away with and now have to figure out how to pay it. That’s not the way to get ahead.
    Yes, my dear, I am retired and living very, very well and very happy with all my choices.

    Reply
    • May 30, 2020 at 2:11 pm
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      Hi Diane, oh I love your comment!! Where there is a will, there is a way to do anything! I tip my hat to you, I wish the world could see your comment. It’s the little things that add up big time! You rock, thank you for sharing these awesome tips! Linda

      Reply
    • May 30, 2020 at 5:49 pm
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      So weird—I do same things—I have a plastic teapot and use it all day. Dishes, tea, coffee, everything!!
      It heats so fast and is so boiling hot, I add cool water to the dish pan–yep–no sink full of water, just a little dish pan in the sink and another for the rinse water cause I use jet dry in that water. The water is boiling before the water from the water heater even thinks about getting to the kitchen!!!
      And, no need to worry if you turned a stove eye on–automatic turnoff when heated.
      I have a ‘tracfone’ (20 dollars each for 120 minutes) and keep two minute cards in the car, un-activated unless I need them.
      Yes, my phone costs $7 a month and nothing until I activate it.
      I must have a credit card for Amazon–I use it, put the expense in a envelope and pay balance every month–no interest…ever.

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    • June 1, 2020 at 12:12 pm
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      Diane, you are one smart lady, i admire your style of living, hope you are well and stay safe, God Bless.

      Reply
  • May 30, 2020 at 6:19 pm
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    Thank you Linda and thank you Jay Jay.
    Jay Jay. I do PayPal when I buy anything on line. They are the only one’s that have my debit card, Of course, they do not give it to the people I buy from. Been doing that for years. I buy a lot on Ebay. I like it better than Amazon. I guess it is what we are used to. Also, I do not pay anything to use PayPal to buy anything or Ebay or anywhere using Pay Pal. Therefore, no charges from credit card. It
    It is my understanding that I can’t let my Tracphone lapse in minutes or I will lose any I have. I barely ever make phone calls so, after many years of just accumulating minutes I have 5,000 minutes. So, I CANNOT let my phone lapse. If I ever just want to call anyone, anywhere for hours or days, I guess I am covered, haha..
    So, Jay Jay. What else do you do to live cheaply. I know I could go on but my post was getting pretty long.

    Reply
  • May 31, 2020 at 4:11 am
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    Another small way to save, tea bags can be used a second time by putting bicarbonate soda (baking soda) in the boiling water. Actually the tea is stronger the second time you use the same tea bags. Plus the tea will not turn cloudy the second batch.

    Reply
  • June 1, 2020 at 12:42 pm
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    Great article as usual Linda.. Many many people could be living better if only they would do half of the above. My Grandfather told me years ago to save your money first, pay your bills second, if you have money left over, save it also and you will never want for much if anything.
    My wife and i worked part time jobs along with full time employment most of our life, all the part time income went into savings and investments, that we are now living off of, we do not live extravagant, but we live good, and are able to help the kids that also worked when they were young. I think a lot of people were not taught to save, so they buy whatever they want when ever they want, that works when you are young, but what about when you no longer have a steady pay check, disaster…
    We still follow many of your suggestions above, it sounds hard to do, but it is not. The first thing is to tell yourself you don`t need every new thing that hits the market.
    If people would try your suggestions and guide lines for a year, they will be proud of them selves, they will live better, healthier, and happier. Hope you are well, stay safe, God Bless….

    Reply
    • June 1, 2020 at 1:21 pm
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      Hi Hearl, thanks for your great comment. It’s crazy my husband and I live on way less than our Social Security. I once had a relative make a hurtful statement (her husband is a retired cop) say “well no one can live on Social Security”. Well, her whole family works for the government with retirement checks after retiring at 50. We pay those retirement checks through taxes we all pay. If only WE could have been able to invest the money we HAD to pay into SS we would all be better off. But we didn’t have a choice. It’s all about how you live and spend money. We have always been savers and it’s paid off. We live a very comfortable life but I cook at home. Life is good, stay well, my friend. Linda

      Reply
  • June 1, 2020 at 3:03 pm
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    Reading back over all the lovely comments I wish to say thank you Linda, Jay Jay, Dorothy and Hearl. You see, I am rather, or almost a hermit as I love where I live and keep so busy gardening I don’t miss seeing people all the time. I tend to have farmer friends and they, like me are busy all the time and also just like being home. But, I do call or email friends and neighbors so they know I care cause I do. However, when I was younger and working I worked as a bartender in a lovely lounge in our small town. Then the boss put in Gambling and sent me to school to deal cards. I then did that for 2 years. But, my love is the garden. Growing. So, I quit that grew a huge garden then sold canned jams, jellies and pickled foods of all kinds as well as baked goods and crafts of all kinds and crocheted afghans. I did that for a couple years and the market manager quit so they voted me in as Market manager. I did that for 7 years on top of everything else and expanded to 3 more markets during the week. I had no time. No spare time at all when I started that business. Didn’t see friends but I was there so they could have come out. I saw people and loved that but work and living well was a priority. After all I had wood heat so 10 cords of wood had to be split every year. I had a dog and a cat and bears and mountain lions, deer, moose, foxes, skunks, and every other wild animal you could think of to keep me company lol. I live on a long dirt road in a forest with a view of the mountains and tress of every kind around me. The neighbor, down the road has peacocks that visit sometimes and the wild turkeys are always around when the snow melts.
    All the while I kept in mind that I just have to make it to age 65 and I can retire. My SS is tiny compared to others but, I saved and saved for many, many years. I loved manual labor because at the end of a day I fell into bed and always slept well. Pain be dang. It was always better in the morning after I moved around. Make coffee and start canning. Well, here I am an older woman with all these huge pots , pans and colanders to drain things that are 18″ diameter because I used to need them. Well, I still grow, I still can and because I smoked all my life I have Asthma and COPD but it doesn’t stop me from doing anything because I just got extra tubing and snaked it out to the garden and do my work. I did make a smaller garden but, keep adding to it every year. Therefore, I have had to move the fence out 4 times. Friends just shake their heads. Daughter says Mom. Son says, do whatever makes you happy. Yeah, that’s what I am doing. I am happy. Lucky because I do have friends that will get anything I forgot to stock up in the past several years or run low on during this pandemic. Home now for 9 weeks and counting. Do not feel the need to go get the virus. I have driven to town up and down main street and sat and watched the fishermen at the city docks just so I could say I went to town. Anyone that come by picks up the mail. No need to worry about it because I pay my bills online.
    I hope you are all well, safe and happy where you are. If not, work your buns off to save every dime so you can go there and stay in your happy place. Seriously, I love you all. I really, really do.
    I am otherwise , probably the most healthy person you almost know because, not only do I grow my own food but I figured something out many years ago that I think has kept me healthy. My nurse sure thinks so and I have other friends doing it and they have become healthier. so I am going to tell you so you can decide if you want to do it.
    I grow just about every vegetable that is normal for middle and northwestern US. Cauliflower, broccoli, kale, spinach turnips Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, beets, radishes, assorted lettuce, green beans, peas, asparagus, carrots, tomatoes (assorted), eggplant, etc. I can some, freeze some and dry everything. I dry canned (dried) beans, assorted so powder has protein, 5 different mushrooms and dandelion leaves and flowers. I use the processor and grind it into a powder. This powder is put in everything I eat. A teaspoon full in my either smoothie for breakfast or oatmeal for breakfast. 1/4 C oatmeal, 1 banana, 1 other fruit 1/2 C, 1 tsp. flax seed (ground), 1 tsp. my powder and a little water. Microwave 3 minutes and stir. I either have it cooked like that when I feel like a bowl or add more water and make a smoothie. If I make turkey meatloaf the powder goes in it, spaghetti, sprinkle powder on it, eggs sprinkle and so on. I don’t eat boxed cereal anymore bur when I did I even put the powder in it. And, I do take a lot of vitamins. So, yes. I am older but I am younger than anyone I know, my age, and they think so too. Since I am 19 years old I have never told anyone my right age. Even my best friend doesn’t know. So, I’ll tell you. I am 50 years old………………maybe

    Reply
    • June 1, 2020 at 4:12 pm
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      Hi Diane, oh how I LOVE your comment! It feels good to have worked hard your life and now you can still garden and do the things YOU want to do when YOU want to do them. The 50 years old gave me the giggles, thank you for sharing your wonderful life. I love my readers and you are one of them. I LOVE your comment, Linda

      Reply
  • June 1, 2020 at 4:57 pm
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    You are darling. Thank you.

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  • June 1, 2020 at 6:38 pm
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    I love the tea pot idea. I would actually love to setup a small shed and make a cabin out of it. I could institute clever and alternative methods of providing water, both hot and cold, heat, cooling and son on. Providing hot or even just warm water is a major undertaking by normal means.

    I’d also like to be able to install a solar panel and build a battery box or a portable solar generator, portable being subjective as it can always be built on a wheeled platform or frame. A water filtering system along with solar distillation would be possible and very comforting along with water harvesting “barrels” so one can shower and wash with a good steady supply. The sun’s power is free and anyone can use it for free.

    Being able to provide for one’s self and to cover all our human basic needs without a huge expense at bargain prices and without being an expert in plumbing, electricity and environmental systems is very liberating and would have to be quite satisfying.

    Many would see this as living poorly, but out of the box thinking and ingenuity as well as an open mind can yield amazing results. Besides, if I’m realistic about it, I use cold water most of the time. I only require a warm shower and I don’t need 50 gallons on tap. And while I do like air conditioning, proper design and installation of insulation can make a big difference.

    To have a self reliant cabin would be an awesome project and a great chance to learn and demonstrate what’s possible. Humans have always solved problems and made life better for themselves. I think preppers try to do it everyday. And your readers comments above were awesome stories and very inspiring.

    Reply
    • June 2, 2020 at 8:42 am
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      Hi Frank, great comment! I have always told my kids and grandkids, “if you can dream it, you can do it”. My nature has always been positive thinking that we as individuals can do anything we put our mind to do. Now, for some reason, I never caught the inspiration to “fix things”. Like broken washers or dryers, etc. BUT, my husband and I can build houses, finish basements, tile floors, and showers, and do electrical wiring. PLumbing not so much. My point is Frank, YOU can do the project you want to do. As we get older it’s getting a bit harder. Dang, it. BUT, do it while your body works, YOU can do anything your heart desires. Linda

      Reply

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