With the economy not looking so hot, many people are trying to figure out how to live way below their means. Even when times are good, it's useful to know how to spend less money than you make. People tend to have trouble with this because they've already established a way that they want to live, and when they fall on hard times (or reach their credit limits) they imagine that their lives are going to be boring and miserable from that point on. Luckily, it doesn't have to be like that if you follow these steps.
- Know that it's temporary. It's really difficult to live with making those tough choices if you think that they're going to last forever. For example, if you decide that the best way to live way below your means is to sell your car and use public transportation, you shouldn't think to yourself that you'll never, ever be able to have a car again. As long as you consider things like moving in with your parents or eating only beans and bread as temporary, you can put up with just about anything.
- Focus on the positive. The more you think about how much you'll miss reading the newspaper on the way to work every morning, the more you'll hate the idea of cutting back on spending in order to live below your means. Instead, think of something inexpensive that you really enjoy, such as sitting on your porch in the sun or waking up to a hot mug of coffee. It will be hard at first, but the more you can savor those little things, the less you'll miss the big things that cost the big bucks.
- Do the stuff that's simple, but hard. The two things that matter most when it comes to living way below your means are spending less on big ticket items and making more money (without increasing your expenditures). They're also two of the hardest things to do. If you're really committed to changing your spending ways, though, these are the areas you should start with. You may end up having to rent out a room or do SAT prep on the weekends. Remember, the hardest part is taking the first step, and don't forget: things won't be this bad forever.
- Stay strong by taking it one day at a time. You didn't decide on a lifestyle in a day, and you won't invent a new one in a day either. It takes time to adjust to changes, especially when it comes to living within your means. Do a little each day, and before you know it you'll be happy with your new life. And hopefully a little richer, too.