Spend less money than you make. Sounds quite simple doesn’t it?
During my budget workshop in November I asked people to keep track of OR approximate all their spending for 1 month.
We learned that about half of the people in the room were spending more than they make. Literally when we added up all their expense categories there was more money being spent than being made. How is this possible?
Well for some they were allowing one or more bills to back up while paying another creating a never ending cycle of backed up bills late payments and interest.
For others they were leveraging their credit cards as extra cash.
How does one learn to live beneath their means and what does that really mean? Does it mean you cheat yourself of fun and never get to enjoy the money you work so hard for?
No, at least not forever…
But there may be a period of time where u must sacrifice fun for your future security… And that time can start today.
How long should living below your means last? FOREVER
However long it takes to get you on track and live a stable financial life, for some that will be 6 months for some it will be 2 years.
However the overarching goal should be to a consistent financial life, which means ALWAYS living below your means.
What if you want to buy a house, you must definitely live beneath your means to save to get it and then to maintain it.
Most people live high on the hog when they have money and struggle like a pauper when they have none. On Fridays when they get paid they’re going to buy an outfit, get their hair and nails done and spend some more money on dinner drinks and a cab to treat themselves!!
Then its the Thursday before the next payday and they are eating ramen noodles and tap water because they are so broke.
We call this the feast and famine cycle.
This splurging, then scrimping, splurging then scrimping cycle being puts wants and having fun above the needs of consistency.
Our financial lifestyles should be consistent, no matter how close or far away from payday we are. That means budgeting and not spending your entire paycheck the same weekend you get it so you can actually have a good full meal the night before a payday.
Most who are living above their means know they are, they just dont know by how much…. For most the reality doesn’t sinks in until a number is revealed and attached to their problem.
Want to know your number?
First, Grab a highlighter!
Print out your bank statements for the last 2 months.
Highlight everything that was not budgeted for, unexpected leisure, not a need and add it up!!!
Did the number shock you?
The number may or may not shock you
Since these items are typically splurge spur of the moment spends and not recurring transactions all you really have to do is work on your will power to stop going the places that cause you to spend, like when I stopped shopping cold turkey for 2 years straight.
Another thing you may need to do is learn how to say NO. I love you but I cannot come to your b-day dinner, I’m saving. Or if you do attend, instead of a gift, buy them a nice card instead. Need to buy gifts for 45 nieces and nephews? Buy them one gift they can all use as a family instead.
You have to secure your own future, not save face for anyone. Who cares if someone calls you cheap.. unless they are going to feed you, help you buy your house, or share their retirement money with you, it shouldn’t matter what they think.
Next Find A Way To Cut Your Other Expenses
You may not need to give up all the little luxuries you’ve come to love in your life, but you will definitely need to make some choices on which ones you get and how often!!!
Getting your hair and nails done every week is a LUXURY!!! NOT A NECESSITY It may seem like a NEED NOW but it never was back in the day and doesn’t need to be now… I remember my mom painting her nails at home every week, sometimes even twice a week and only went to the nail/ hair salon for her birthday and weddings.
You may think you DESERVE to have someone else paint their nails every week or roller set their hair.. But what were you all doing before the BOOM of the Dominican Hair salon???? .
If you save your manicure money for a month you could save up to $720 by the end of the year from just manicures alone, imagine if you skip acrylic, gel and the like? I have faith in you girl. You can paint your own nails.
There was a story in EBONY a few years ago about a girl who did her hair and nails herself for 1 year and saved $30,000 and bought a house… Wrap your arms around that! Just from saving her hair and nail money, allowed her to go from living in an apartment to owning her own house? Shoot. That’s worth a year of buns and self manicures to me.
Just a little something for you to think about. What are your financial goals worth to you?