You want to live the ‘good life’ but your budget is always screaming, “Hey! Stop! We can only afford mediocre living!” Well that’s okay. There are several ways to look and feel like you are living above your means while at the same time being smart with your finances, and it’s really just a matter of making minor adjustments in your day to day living. I’ve noticed that most of society today obsesses about two things- staying healthy in order to live a long active life and having enough money to last for our long active life. According to a survey by Bankrate, 76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. So roughly, three-quarters of Americans are living with little to no emergency savings. It can be difficult to find a balance between living for today, doing things we enjoy while we are healthy enough to do them, planning for the future and making whatever assets we have last a lifetime. Below are a few strategies for getting some of the things that you want out of life- even if you believe you can’t afford them:
- Cherish your long-term goals- “Bend your budget to your values, not your values to your budget.” If you and your partner’s goal have always been to buy a house, don’t give up on that goal. Change all your passwords on your laptop to something to remind you about your goal, such as “dreamhouse123” or “20kby2015.” Also, set up automatic transfers from checking to savings every month to gradually build up your fund. Getting in the habit of creating and meeting financial goals will strengthen your financial success.
- Scale down your vacations- vacations are important because they renew and reinvigorate your spirit, help you think more clearly, and boost your outlook. But it’s difficult to enjoy a vacation when you’re worried about how much it’s costing. Yes, plan that fantastic getaway but just scale it down a bit- instead of a week at that exclusive resort, go for three or four days. Weekday prices can be as little as one-third of the price of weekend rates. Take advantage of package deals such as booking your airfare, hotel, and rent-a-car all at once. And don’t forget to use your frequent-flier miles whenever you can.
- Lease not buy- Some people wants a car that describes who they are (or at least, who they’d like to be). If what you drive is a status symbol to you, consider this: instead of buying a brand-new car, consider leasing one that’s a year old. Leasing a car is a completely different ball game than buying one. By leasing a car, you’ll get the car that you want but at a significantly lower price.
- Buy smarter- It’s very important to carefully consider every purchase that you make. Instead of buying on impulse, make a shopping list every time you hit the grocery store or mall. That way you will only buy what you need- those little extras add up!
Moore, R. & Jetkey, H. (2013). Guide to Spending Smarter. Retrieved from: http://www.ns.umich.edu/new/releases/21959-most-teen-workers-spend-not-save
Dolan, T. (2011). 5 Keys to Spending Less and Living Well. Retrieved from http://www.frugal-mama.com/2011/01/5-keys-to-spending-less-and-living-well/
Written by: Nada Elhertani, Project Manager, Child and Family Learning Network