Can You Live Below Your Means?

Posted by Allison on 5 April 2009, 11:06

Living below your means is the way we should all be living.  The basic idea is simple – spend less than you earn – but the actual reality of it seems to be something we are not really that familiar with.

The problem comes with today's materialistic society.  There is so much out there that we want, it's hard to say no to it all – especially when credit companies make it too easy to give us the means to get it all now without paying for it (often in a much bigger way than we thought we would) until later.

But there is an ever increasing group of people who have stopped trying to chase the dream of living in ever bigger houses filled with ever increasing amounts of material goods, paid for with the currency gained from a job they don't like or particularly want.

The real question is can you join them?

So many of us are so focused on the idea of always wanting to upgrade our lives – along with all the associated pressure that brings us – that we haven't stopped to think about what would happen if we tried to go the other way.  After all, how many things do we really need around us in order to have a great life filled with wonderful memories?

Many of us would arguably have a much better time of it in retirement if we saved more of our money while we were younger instead of spending it on things that we use a few times and then forget about.  It's also true that many of us would benefit from sitting down and completely overhauling our lives in many respects, even though it is difficult to pull ourselves out of the rut we often find ourselves in.

The 'done thing' for many people is to buy a house, pay the mortgage on it and then keep buying bigger and bigger houses until we finally own something that we end up selling for something smaller in our later years.  It sounds a bit daft in some ways doesn't it?  Obviously some people will need bigger houses than others (those with children for example) but not everyone needs to live in the size of house they are living in.

The key to living below your means is to think about your current situation and where your money goes every month.  This applies to everyone in every country.  Housing can vary wildly in different countries depending on the currency in force and the market conditions in each area, but there are always ways that you can downsize and take some of the pressure off yourself.

Many people for example are unhappy in their present jobs, and have dreamed for a long time about doing something else that really would make them happy.  People in office jobs dream about working outdoors with animals, and city workers think about what it would be like to run a bed and breakfast.  There are countless examples of people in the wrong jobs who spend their lives feeling as if they cannot escape to earn less money in the job they really want to have.  Why is this?  The reason is because they are currently living beyond their means and they don't consider the idea of changing their living situation.

The key to successfully improving your life, earning less money in your own particular currency and not having to worry about debt is to look at every aspect of how you currently live your life.  Many people work long hours to be able to afford a huge house that they hardly ever spend time in.  That doesn't seem to be a very logical way to use your money, which is exactly what some people are now beginning to realise.

Whatever it is you would really like to do in life there will be a way to do it.  If you explore the possibilities and start looking into the lives of people who have already made the leap into downsizing their lives and moving to a different home, sometimes in a different area, to be able to afford to do what they really want to do, you'll notice that you get rewards in other areas instead.

The trouble is that our world today is very much driven by money, currency and finance.  That isn't always a bad thing but when you are always thinking about money to the detriment of other areas of your life you can really find it difficult to get the balance right again.

It's hard to make any kind of change in your life, especially where your own finances are concerned, but it's also very far from being impossible.  Most of the time people think they cannot do it because they don't have the information they need to do it.  Once they start to look into the possibilities they realise that it isn't as hard as they might previously have thought to be able to change their lives and live on much less income without sacrificing any quality of life.  In fact if anything, their quality of life will probably improve as their lifestyle will be so different.

You might now be thinking back to whether or not you could live below your means and be coming up with a different answer.  Living either above or right on the limit of your means all the time tends to lead either to debt or to various stressed situations where you feel as if you cannot make ends meet.  Those people who have made the effort to change their lives and get into the jobs they love don't tend to have as many money worries as those who earn more.

It's all a question of perspective.  If you can get the perspective right then you will realise that you can change your life and make the most of whatever currency you have coming in.  Leaving the rat race could be the best thing you ever do.