How to Stop Living Beyond Your Means & Gain Financial Control

Credit makes it easy to live beyond your means and eventually that can feel somewhat normal. But if you’re unable to pay off your credit cards every month you’re spending a lot on interest charges. Living within your means looks like cutting out unnecessary expenses, such as eating out a lot, while saving money by finding cheap auto insurance and making your own meals at home. Saving money is accomplished by actively monitoring your spending so you have a good idea as to what’s coming in and what’s going out.

Build an Emergency Fund

Chances are good that if you feel the need to gain greater financial control over your life, you do not have an emergency fund. What happens if you unexpectedly get sick or in an accident or if the hot water heater or furnace breaks down in the middle of the night? Unfortunately, there are a number of things that could go wrong. Most financial experts advise having a separate emergency fund of around $1,000 (or more) to draw from if such a contingency arises. You can start by creating a separate savings account and adding a percentage of your paycheck to it every week. Even if it’s $5 a week, you’ll be proud to watch it grow, and grateful it is there when you need it.

Stop Caring What Other People Think

Everyone has those friends who want to do things all the time. Go out for a bite to eat, go shopping, whatever the case may be. And you might consistently be put in a position where you don’t want to say no to them because you don’t want to be left out or you’re embarrassed that you don’t have the money to spend. It’s time to change your attitude and approach. Unless they are funding these outings, learn how to say no. If you’re honest with them, you never know, you might just be doing them a favor as they peer inward and realize they can’t really afford it either.

Start Making Your Bills a Priority

If you consistently have overdue bills and are used to paying interest charges or overdraft fees, it’s time to change up your priorities. Make a point to pay your bills so you avoid these charges, otherwise you are simply pushing more money into hands that aren’t yours. If you cannot make your regular payments every month, it could be a signal that you are living beyond your means.

Pay Cash Only for Holiday Gifts

It’s all too tempting to put holiday gift purchases on credit cards. They make it easy for you with cash back offers and interest free time periods. However, unless you truly plan to pay off the card at the end of the month, you’re going to be paying more for every item than its actual purchase price. Paying with cash allows you to live within your means and set realistic expectations for the holidays so you’re not stuck with outrageous, soul-sucking credit card statements when January hits.

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Choose a No-Spending Day or Week

You know your habits better than anyone else. Maybe you can’t suffer through a long Monday morning commute without your post-weekend chai latte, so no spending on Mondays might be out of the question. Choose a day that works for you (or a week of the month) when you vow to not make any unnecessary purchases. This not only saves you money it also helps you notice what’s missing – and therefore what you’ve been carelessly spending money on.

Bite the Bullet & Learn to Budget

For many people, living within a budget can feel like a huge limitation. Nobody wants to feel like they’re on a short financial leash. However, if you are making a real commitment toward living within your means and gaining more financial control, then it makes sense to create a budget and stick to it. The good news is, your favorite things don’t have to be eliminated from your budget. What you have to do is ‘move’ money around to accommodate. Your bills and needs come first, of course, and then savings, and then you can make sound choices how to spend what is left over.

Ways to Downsize

Everyone can downsize their life to some degree. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I using all of the subscriptions and memberships that I belong to? What can I cut?
  • Can I get a better cell phone deal?
  • Could I pay less for insurance, both home and auto?
  • Am I utilizing my pantry and freezer goods to offset new foodstuff coming in?

Learning to live within your means helps you appreciate what you have and it also lowers stress. Knowing you can pay bills on time and make ends meet is truly its own reward.

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