Inside: Learn why it’s important to choose a life you can afford and how to live within your means.
The realities of life and money aren’t always fun. It’s tempting to buy things we want and that marketers tell us we deserve.
But living beyond your means doesn’t end in happiness. It’s important to choose a life you can afford if you want to have peace.
With the current economic conditions, which includes inflation and the potential for a recession, living within your means has become even more challenging for many.
The more you save what you can even when times are good and the more you can cut back during lean times, the better prepared you will be to weather life’s storms.
Here’s why to choose a life you can afford and how to begin living within your means.
Why to Choose a Life You Can Afford
Have you ever watched commercials or read ads and considered the messages that are being communicated? Advertisers are on a mission to convince you that you want, need, or deserve the item that they are selling.
They don’t care if you can afford it. It also doesn’t matter to them if the item would be meaningful or burdensome in your life. Their goal is simply to get you to buy.
What happens if they convince you to keep buying, but you can’t afford it? Often it means you land yourself in a pile of debt with high-interest rates.
You’ve bought the lie that you deserved these things and now you’re being buried under them.
Did it bring you the happiness or joy they promised? Perhaps momentarily it did. For the longer term, it brought a burden as you are now living a life you cannot afford.
How to Choose a Life You Can Afford
It can take some major adjustments and focused effort to undo past purchasing mistakes. If you work hard to avoid these situations in the first place, you’ll be much better off.
Here are three things to do when you’re tempted to buy something:
- Be aware of marketing messages
- Wait to make purchasing decisions
- Have a budget and be patient
- Redefining what’s a necessity
Be aware of marketing messages
Increasing your awareness of the marketing messages that you’re being subjected to can help dispel their allure. Notice the signs in dressing rooms.
When you turn your attention to the fact that you are being told you deserve the latest and greatest, it helps take away the power of their message particularly if you look at the facts of whether or not you can actually afford it.
Buying may become less appealing as you consider their motivation in trying to get your money.
Wait to make purchasing decisions
If the item is something you really want today, check to make sure you still really want it tomorrow. Waiting provides clarity on if this is something that will benefit your life.
Allow a 24 hour waiting period before you purchase. This will help significantly lower buyer’s remorse from making an impulsive decision.
Be more intentional with shopping going forward. You’ll save money and the added benefit of bringing less potential clutter into your home.
Have a budget and be patient
If you decide after the 24 hours that you still want that thing, then look at your budget. Do you currently have the funds to afford it while still being able to cover all of your other expenses?
If you don’t, budget for it and wait until you have the money to buy it. Ask yourself if it fits with your overall financial goals. The item can lose its appeal as you consider how many hours of work it will take to acquire the item.
Financing is not your friend. It’s a way to get you to buy things you can’t afford. It also typically brings a high-interest rate so you’d be paying even more for something that was out of the budget in the first place.
Use these tips to create a recession-proof budget. Cut back on non-essential items as you work to live within your means.
Redefining what’s a necessity
Distinguishing the difference between a need and a want helps to redefine what is truly a necessity in your life.
We often make assumptions about what we need based on what is normal in the culture we live in. Advertising messaging and our peer groups influence what we think we need to have.
Many of those things aren’t true requirements though. Simplifying now can help clear out the excess to make room for what is most important.
Establishing your most important priorities as you work to move toward living a life you can afford. Adjust your expectations and cut back on non-essential purchases as needed.
Current economic conditions
As inflation rises, the increased cost of essential goods can be painful. Housing is now more unaffordable than it’s ever been with the huge surge in prices over the past two years coupled with interest rate hikes. It can be challenging to make ends meet in hard times.
And yet, Amazon just experienced the most sales ever from Prime Day with $12 billion in sales and over 300 million sold. While some may have been using the sale to purchase food or other essential goods, many were not.
Included in the top-selling products were the Apple Watch, Beats by Dre headphones, Lego sets, Fire TV, Echo, and Blink devices.
Some of those purchases were likely made within the buyer’s means. However, consumer credit card balances topping $841 billion in the first three months of 2022 indicate that some of them probably weren’t.
Happiness isn’t found in stuff
No matter how much stuff we have, we always seem to want more. We live in a consumer-driven society that tries to tell us that money does buy happiness because they want us to keep consuming.
It’s when we take a step back and choose to focus on everything we already have that we can find happiness. We find contentment when we choose gratitude.
When we look at what’s really important in life and appreciate everything we have, it takes the same circumstances and allows us to see them through new eyes.
You won’t find happiness in stuff. It’s found in the choice to look at what was there all along and to celebrate the people and things that matter most.
Learning to choose a life you can afford
Figuring out how to live a life you can afford may be a challenge if you haven’t been used to living this way. I’m fortunate to have been raised by frugal parents who taught me the value of money at an early age.
They taught me how to live simply in a consumer culture.
My parents also taught me the value of hard work and how to budget when I was young. I’m so grateful for these lessons that I’ve carried into my adult life and am now passing along to my children.
If you weren’t raised in a home that taught you these things, you still have time to learn them and pass it on to the next generation. There are a lot of great resources to help you learn money management.
Learn to budget your money and have patience when you want to buy something. This is countercultural from the media messages that tell us we need it right now. They benefit from that, you don’t.
You’ll appreciate things so much more when you have earned the money and had patience in waiting to be able to afford it.
When you choose to avoid debt, you’ll be less burdened. When you choose to focus on what you already have, you’ll find a greater sense of contentment.
As you choose a life you can afford, you’ll find a greater sense of peace and will be on your way to living a simpler life.
Have you chosen a life you can afford? Share your favorite money management tips in the comments section.
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