Compiled by Citizens Journal Staff
Living within your means doesn’t seem like a complicated concept at first. It simply means ensuring you spend less money than you earn on a consistent basis. However, in today’s complex world, it can be a lot harder to follow a financially responsible lifestyle than it may seem. It’s easy for bills and expenses to get on top of anyone, even if you consider yourself to be reasonably frugal. The good news is that with a little practice and the right strategies, you can not only improve your chances of effectively living within your means, but you could also end up saving a lot more money for the things you really want and need. Here are some top tips to help you become more financially responsible.
Know How Much Money You Have
The first step to living within your means is knowing how much money you actually have to spend. This might sound obvious, but a lot of people still estimate what they can afford based on their annual salary or income. You need to know exactly what your net income is going to be after you pay taxes, how often you get paid, and how you’re using your cash on a monthly basis. Take some time to sit down with your bank statements and get a clear idea of how much money you actually have coming in each month, and how much you’re left over with when you’re done paying for the essentials like utilities, food, rent, or mortgage costs.
Deal with Your Loans
Loans are a valuable financial tool for many of us. They make it easier to handle the stress of dealing with larger expenses, such as buying a car, a home, or paying for our education. However, they can also be extremely problematic. Loans with high interest rates and fees will rapidly eat into your available cash, making it harder to find the money you need to put aside for things like savings, emergency expenses, and long-term goals. A good way to make your loans easier to manage and ensure you can still access the right amount of cash each month is to look for ways to swap expensive loans with more affordable ones. You can refinance student loans with Earnest to convert your existing monthly expenses into something more affordable. That means more money left in your pocket each month.
Boost Your Income
If, after you discover how much you earn and how much you spend each month, you find you can’t really afford to continue with your current lifestyle, you have two options. You can either cut down on the things you don’t absolutely need, like streaming services, and hobbies, or you can find ways to boost your income. A good option is to look into side gigs and freelance work that can give you access to additional resources outside of your current income. There are plenty of websites available online that can help you to seek out extra earning opportunities based on your available skills. Just make sure you’re taking tax expenses into account if you’re going to be self-employed on the side.
Don’t Try to Keep Up with Anyone Else
When you’re surrounded by those who are constantly spending money, it’s tempting to try and match their outgoings. You might be tempted to join your friends for every expensive meal they invite you to, so you can avoid being left out. Or you may attempt to keep up with your neighbors by purchasing the latest tech or making upgrades to your house. Ultimately, it’s important not to live your life according to what other people are doing. Focus on what matters most to you, and make sure you have your priorities in check. Buying extra items now to make yourself feel just as good as someone else won’t make you happy in the long-term.
Think Long Term
Finally, living within your means also means being prepared for the fact that things in your life could suddenly change. There’s always a chance you could end up having to handle an unexpected bill or expense. With this in mind, it’s not always a good idea to spend bonus money you might have laying around as soon as you discover it. Whenever you have extra cash available to you, make sure you’re storing at least some of it away in your emergency fund. This will ensure you’re always prepared for the worst.