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Save Money and Reduce Stress by Living Within Your Means

Updated on December 25, 2010
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Resolve to Get Your Financial Act Together

Financial difficulties can cause tremendous stress. Decide to get your financial act together once and for all.

Assemble all your monthly bills and other expenses and record them in detail. For loans and credit cards include both the minimum payment amount and the amount you usually pay. Total all your monthly living expenses and compare them to your income. Also record any amounts saved in retirement or other savings programs. If your living expenses are higher than your income then you are in financial trouble and need to take immediate constructive actions.

Cut Expenses to Save Money

You will probably have many opportunities to reduce expenses to achieve the goal of living within your means. Here are some things you can do right away:

  • Buy nothing on credit -- pay cash for everything to avoid buying things you can’t afford.
  • Conserve energy in your home -- try to reduce your electric bill by at least 20%. (This should be easy to do by lowering your water heater temperature and keeping your house four or more degrees warmer or cooler than usual to save on cooling and heating costs.)
  • Stop dining out.
  • Don’t buy fast food or prepared meals.
  • Except for breakfast, make all your meals using relatively inexpensive ingredients.
  • Stop using sugar and salt (this is also healthy).
  • Use less water by taking shorter showers or “Navy showers.”
  • Eat less by preparing smaller portions (another healthy change).
  • Travel less.
  • Carpool more.
  • Buy clothes in thrift shops.
  • Look to garage sales for things you can’t live without.
  • Use your public library for books, magazines, videos and surfing on line.

 

 

Focus on Healthy Habits that Save Money

Overcome bad habits including addictions, and establish good habits like regular exercise, weight control, and eating healthier food. Here are some specific things you can do:

  • Stop smoking to save your lungs, heart and a ton of money.
  • Stop drinking to save your liver and brain as well as lots of money.
  • Don’t abuse drugs.
  • Overcome overeating by serving smaller portions and focusing on vegetables, fruit, and whole grains.
  • Lose weight if you are obese to save on future medical bills and expanding wardrobes; try the real Mayo Clinic Diet, for example.
  • Exercise aerobically every day working up to 30 minutes per day at an aerobic pace or 60 to 90 minutes per day if you need to lose weight.

Be sure to get your doctor’s approval before embarking on any diet or exercise program.

Start Putting Money Away for Savings Every Month

Establish the savings habit by allocating a fixed percentage of your income, 15% if possible, to go into retirement savings and other savings or investment programs. Pay yourself first is the guideline to follow. If your employer matches your 401k contribution (or similar retirement savings plan) up to a certain percent of your income make sure you save at least that much each month to get that free bonus money for your retirement.

Pay yourself before you buy anything you don’t truly need.

 

Develop a Debt Elimination Strategy

Long term, aim to get debt free and to stay that way. Consult a professional for help if you are in over your head and can’t see a way out. Otherwise, visit the Dave Ramsey website and explore the options and classes offered that might help you. See the Related Articles and Reference section below for a link to Dave’s website.

 

Act Now to Save Money and Reduce Stress

You can learn to live within your means by getting organized, following the steps above, and getting professional help if needed. Satisfaction and stress reduction come not from making and spending a lot of money but from always spending less than you earn.

 

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    • Carlon Michelle profile image

      Carlon Michelle 

      6 years ago from USA

      Traqqer - Yes the key word there is "control". If people had control they wouldn't be in this situation of needing this article. LOL. The article was right on point. I have taken these measures and am now working on ways to increase my income so that I have more money to save. Changing one’s lifestyle is pertinent to getting debt free. Smile!

    • Traqqer profile image

      Traqqer 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      What can I say...these are words of wisdom. The only one where I may add another option is regarding the use of credit cards. If and only if you can control (and most probably can't) your use of your credit cards, I've found that a cash-back credit card can be advantageous. Each year, I get about $600-700 back from American Express for all the "responsible" charging I've done throughout the year. It adds up to be a nice little Christmas present. But again, it is only for those who can actually do it in a responsible manner. Otherwise, I completely agree that paying cash is the way to go.

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