Living Beneath Your Means

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.


8 thoughts on “Living Beneath Your Means

  1. A lesson my grandmother desperately tried to teach me. I still struggle with this even though I have given up credit cards and try at the very late age of 48 to live Dave Ramsey’s way. I admire anyone–you, the Duggars, the cleaning lady who leaves a million to a college, Warren Buffett–anyone who does this. I have tried to teach my children and to show them what we’ve had to live thru because I didn’t “get it” in time. Good post!

  2. I LOVE your way of thinking! My husband and I feel the same way, but are currently living “at” our means and are working on living below our means. We have no debt and have gotten rid of our cable, etc…. It is great to see inspiring families like yours! Thanks for this post!

  3. Good point! Husband and I currently live off one salary-his. He grew up in a very lax $ situation, which led to some spats in the beginning of our marriage, but having worked out an agreeable budget, somehow we manage to save about 1/3 of his salary still eating out occasionally and renting an apartment that’s a little above our price range. God is good, and always seems to provide for us.

  4. so true! I wish more people knew the joy of leaving beneath their means and not just having so much stuff in life. Although my husband makes a good living and has a job in an industry where people would assume we’d live a more fancy lifestyle, we chose instead to save and live on less so we can prepare for the future and not have debt.

  5. Smart, plain and simple.

    Hi there! Niki here, stopping over from WFMW. I just wanted to pop in and check out your post. Love it.

    Stop by my blog, Free 2 Be Frugal, when you get a chance!

  6. Step #1 in money management is tithing 10% off the top of your income. The remaining 90% will go much farther. Try it!

  7. Amen to Attic Girl’s post! I am old enough at age 70 to know for sure that tithing is the way to go. This lifestyle is a very rich blessing indeed! I used to be concerned about what my standard of living would be following retirement, but now that I am several years into it I no longer worry about such things. God is good and he looks out for us every day. True happiness has never been achievable with money (look at the movie stars). Enjoy the simple things of life, such as blue skies, sunshine, flowers, family and friends.
    Also, store up your treasures in Heaven like the Bible says.

    Susan, I very much admire you and Mike for your frugal lifestyle. You will have the money there when it is time to send your 3 daughters to college, even with the overlap of having two in college at the same time. Congratulations on paying CASH for your car! I am impressed! I am in the stage of life where I might as well actually spend some of that hard-earned saved money, so guess what? I just put down deposits on two trips for Joe and I, one for 2010 and the other for 2011.

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