I was quick to point out how others were not living within their means, but when it came to me, I was defensive. Avoiding turning the tables on myself, I eventually found myself strapped for cash. In a rush to provide, I used my judgments against others to make a checklist to determine if I was living within my income.
Curious if you can really afford that daily trip to Starbucks? Here are the top 5 items I found were not within my means:
Fancy criteria for living arrangements
Where one lives is a status symbol in today's culture, and I definitely found myself looking at overpriced places every time I moved. My bare minimum was stainless steel appliances, a thriving neighborhood, washer dryer, central heat and air, dishwasher, no pets, non-smoking, manicured lawn, and the list goes on. After months of not being successful in my hunt I did some soul searching to realize my criteria was not within my budget. In a rush to move I made of list of the bare minimums I needed. Turns out I only needed a washer and dryer, central heat and air, and a safe enough neighborhood. Two days later I was moved for half the cost of the nicer place.
For most of my life I have worked on commission, and considering I didn't budget for the month since I got paid weekly, I always had cash to burn at coffee houses. Before my shifts I would justify the money spent with a spurt of energy, but after looking at my retirement account, I realized I really couldn't afford those tempting drinks. I was able to pay my monthly bills while sipping in luxury, but I wasn't able to secure my future.
Name Brand Items
The grocery store was once a killer for my bank account because I liked to have the name brand products, but after forcing myself to try the cheapest brand, I have found the only two I can't buy cheap is Macaroni and cheese and coffee creamer. Everything else tastes just the same as the brand that is 40-50% cheaper. And in turn, I have cut my monthly grocery bill by an average of 40%.
I am definitely a person that loves to shop. I always need something, but when I noticed any extra money was going to shopping, I realized I was living outside of my means. Extra money does not mean I can go shopping. My emergency funds, savings, and car up-keep were hurting because I thought spending the leftover from my realized bills was free money. To fix the issue, I made a list of the colors I wore most, and the items I needed. Instead of getting a shirt or shoe in every color, I got the item that would suit most items in my closet. Now I don't buy if it's not on my essential list, and I don't run to the mall every chance I get, or let myself make up reasons as to why I need something that is not on my list.
Just because I have a washer and dryer, dishwasher, and central heat and air, doesn't mean I can use my energy without a care. Every month I get a bill on my usage, and it can be lowered. I make sure my dishwasher is full before running it. I remember to change the water temperature settings on my washer to accommodate my clothes' needs, and I check my clothes that I am drying several times to make sure I am not drying, dry clothes. And for the central heat and air, I adjust it daily. I keep my thermostat right on the edge of comfortable, and layer up or dress down during the day.
*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.
- Personal Investing Ideas & Strategies