- Personal Finance
Save Money and Reduce Stress by Living Within Your Means
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.
Related Articles and Reference
Related articles that might help you in the areas of healthy eating, dieting and exercise include: