How to Live Within Your Means – Part 2 of 3

Distinguish between what you want and what you need

Sure, you may think that you really “need” a huge HD TV, but would you really suffer if you got a TV of a smaller size, or stuck with your old for a while, instead? Do you really need designer shoes or sunglasses, or would you be just as happy with a cheaper pair? Do you need to spend $90 every time you go out to dinner with your beau, or can you go somewhere a little bit cheaper, or have a romantic night cooking at home instead? Realizing that you don’t really need all those things you think you need will definitely help you live within your means.

  • It’s okay to splurge on something you don’t really need once in a while, but you shouldn’t make a habit of it. And when you do splurge, you should be conscious that your life would be just as good without that thing.

Don’t even bother trying to keep up with the Joneses

So maybe your neighbors just got a swimming pool or built an addition onto their home; but they may make twice as much money as you do. If you get caught up in trying to keep up with everyone around you, then not only will you never be happy, but you will also never be able to live within your means because you’ll be too busy trying to maintain an image that you can never fully live up to.

  • Sure, your best friend’s new designer jeans look amazing on her. Be happy for her cute new look instead of being jealous and wishing you can afford the same. Jealousy is guaranteed to make you an unhappy person — and to never be satisfied with what you have.

Change your definition of what it means to be “rich

Being rich doesn’t have to mean driving a BMW and vacationing in Capri every fall; it can mean having enough money to keep your family and children happy, and to have some spending set aside for fun with your significant other and some light travel, too. Once you see that this can be your own definition of “rich,” you will be able to relax and stop worrying so much about how other people perceive your wealth.

Know that spending less money will not decrease your quality of life

So you invite some friends over for some nice wine instead of spending money at a crowded bar. You and your significant other take a road trip to Portland instead of flying there. Does this really decrease your quality of life? Absolutely not. You’ll still be doing the things you love — you’ll just be doing them a bit differently. Don’t think that you’ll be making your life worse if you spend less money.

  • In fact, spending less money can increase your quality of life, because doing so will make you less stressed out about wasting money, and you’ll feel more at peace with your decisions.

Be grateful for what you do have

Instead of focusing on what you wish you had — a new car, a fancy suit, a larger house — focus on all of the things you are lucky enough to have. You may hate your TV, but you love your computer. You may wish you had a new coat, but you have so many great sweaters. Make a list of all of the things you do have, and don’t just limit the list to the material things — you may be grateful for an amazing significant other, wonderful children, or the amazing place where you live.

  • Being aware of all of the things that you do have will make you less likely to spend impulsively to make up for anything that you feel is lacking in your life.

Source: wikiHow under a Creative Commons license

Published by W. M. Brown

I am a retired U.S. expat living in Ecuador. I was a business owner for 32 years before retiring in 2012.

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