Living Within Your Means

By Beth Bohman

Sometimes when looking at your financial status, you realize that the bills are increasing, available income is dwindling, and something needs to change.  Many people end up spending more than their income and then have to face the fact that unless they live within or below their means, they will not gain control of their finances.   Here are some suggestions on how to live within your means.

  • Develop a budget and stick with it. Unfortunately, this is something many people avoid doing because they think it will take too much time.  To start one will take some time but it will be worth it.  Maintaining it doesn’t have to take long—it doesn’t have to be complicated.  A budget will help you secure financial wellbeing.  There are several free budgeting apps which can help, like Mint, EveryDollar, and PocketGuard.
  • Begin adopting the mindset that income is not only for paying bills and spending.  Saving is critical if you want to get ahead financially.  Some people have a real habit of spending almost every dollar when there’s money in the bank account.  If you are one who often or sometimes does this, find someone who can help you establish new parameters for spending, create saving goals, and keep you accountable to your new goals.        
  • Buy what you can afford or what is quality, yet within or below your budget. Spending money on an item that is not made well could cost you more in the long run by having to buy more to replace it.  And, be sure to purchase what you need and can use.  It is important to identify needs versus wants.
  • Our materialistic age promotes possessing the latest and greatest things available on the market.  Having the best of everything or the most advanced devices is unnecessary and very expensive to maintain.                    When you purchase the latest model or top-of-the-line version of what you need, you may be putting yourself in a financial strain to cover the cost.  Consider buying a less expensive item that is not cheaply made and of high enough quality to last.  This is especially important with things which should be reliable for a long time, like a kitchen appliance, a washing machine, or a vehicle.  Sometimes the higher-priced car models are not worth the extra expenses of insurance coverage, required higher octane fuel, or for more costly parts when repairs are needed.
  • Let go of trying to keep up with people who have more and live more affluently. It helps to be content with what you have instead of comparing the amount of your material possessions with others.   As the philosopher Epictetus said, “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”  Developing and maintaining an attitude of gratitude is necessary in living within your means.

*Images obtained from and