Money problems – they plague so many in our society. While I’ve faced many challenges in life, I’m thankful that financial difficulties have not been one of them. How have I, or now how has our family, avoided financial collapse? I think it’s simple: you practice living beneath your means.
What does this mean? Take your salary – say it’s $40,000 annually. Try living on half of that. Then, save the rest. If that’s too drastic, try living on 75% of your salary. But whatever the percentage, the idea is the same: you must spend less than you take in.
For me, this has involved many years of apartment (as opposed to house) living. It’s involved one winter during my single years when I didn’t use heat much of the winter (it helped that I lived in Birmingham, Alabama at the time). It often involves eschewing shopping (let’s face it; if you go shopping, you’re probably going to spend money). It’s involved lots of hand-me-downs and ingenuity.
My husband and I were in our mid and late 30s before we built our current home, prior to which we lived in a small ranch house (at one time, we had 3 kids in one small bedroom, with just one small sliding-door closet ). Our current houses is in a subdivision I’d describe as a bit “shi shi frou frou,” which leads to some odd situations, because that’s not our lifestyle at all. For instance, most all of our neighbors have lawn services, cleaning ladies, etc. We’re kind of like the Beverly Hillbillies – but hey, that’s okay. I hope we can be a positive example of frugality, which I feel is much needed in today’s fragile economy.
We don’t buy a vehicle until we have enough to pay cash. Yes, we usually keep our vehicles more than ten years, and it does help that my husband is great with fixing cars.
If all this sounds restrictive, I don’t mean for it to – it doesn’t feel that way to me at all. Rather, I think it feels wonderful to be debt-free and not to have worries about whether I can pay the bills.
Living beneath your means definitely works for me! I know the internet is full of similarly-minded folks – I would love to hear your frugal living tips in the comments.