What it Means to Live Within Your Means

Heather Dueitt, VP Marketing
Heather Dueitt, VP Marketing
What It Means to Live Within Your Means

The concept is simple: to live within your means is to make more money than you spend – or to spend less money than you're making. But however you want to word it, the most common response is, "Easier said than done." True, but it's also easier than it may seem. Here's what it means to live within your means this year, next year, and beyond.

Defining and Prioritizing Goals

The best way to reach a long-term goal is to manage your short- and medium-term goals. It's worth taking the time to sit down and crystalize what you want to get done this quarter, this year, in the next five years, and beyond. Separate big goals like college tuition, retirement, and home improvements from medium goals like family staycations/vacations and smaller goals like ordering take-out/eating out. The more planning, budgeting, and clarity you can achieve, the better set up you are to live within your means indefinitely.

Saving Instead of Leaning on Credit Cards

A credit card was designed for spending now and worrying about it later. A debit card, on the other hand, forces you to reckon with pulling money directly from a checking account. That doesn't mean you should close your credit card accounts (which may hurt your credit score). But it's a good idea to treat a credit card as if it were a debit card. Doing so encourages us to save a bit before making a major purchase. In fact, waiting a bit to buy something you don't need is the best way to find out if you really want it.

Using Modern Technology to Your Advantage

A beautiful feature of the future? Things getting done without us even having to think about it. Lots of awesome apps exist that can automatically put extra money aside on a regular basis. Some will help you determine the fastest route to paying off debts, while others will simply save you the most money whenever you buy anything online. Here's a list of 25 from Lifehack.

Vacationing Nearby(ish)

When it’s safe to begin vacationing again, there's likely an affordable destination within driving distance that people around the world would love to visit. Eliminating airline tickets alone can save a thousand dollars or more, and so too does skipping the boarding costs of world-renown destinations. Desert hideaways, mountain escapes, and hidden lakes can deliver an unforgettable week-long vacation for the price of two roundtrip between San Diego and New York.

The Pleasure of Having Money Instead of Things

Which would help you sleep better at night, a nicer mattress or financial security? Debt-free can feel like a vacation in and of itself, a sense of freedom that can unlock a new quality of life. It's hard to balance sacrificing life's basic pleasures with saving a reasonable amount. Besides, we're all different. But it can be a useful exercise to imagine a higher bank account number rather than the newest TV set. And simply staying aware of spending can go a surprisingly long way.