Why We Need to Learn to Live within Our Means

“Few people have any next, they live from hand to mouth without a plan, and are always at the end of their line.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

During times of uncertainty, stress and chaos most people’s first concern is ‘How will I keep myself and my family safe?’ 

Safe usually entails keeping food on the table, a roof over everyone’s head and a sense of serenity within the household. In order to ensure safety for one’s family, the biggest source of stress comes from money (or lack thereof). 

Money, none of us seem to ever have enough of it, but we all seem to spend it quite effortlessly. We never seem to get that savings account to a decent figure, but our closets are filled to the brim, our fridges have ample options to choose from for each meal and we subscribe to every streaming service available. 

Why do we struggle to save for the unknown? 

Why do we struggle to save for the future?

Why are short term wants so difficult to ignore?

“Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” ― Richard Cushing

Why is it so hard to get your finances in order so that we are better prepared for difficult times?

We struggle to save for the future because we feel that we can always start tomorrow, well tomorrow has come and we are ill prepared. 

It is romantic to dream that you will be better in the future. 

We all romanticize our future selves, imagining ourselves as better versions of who we are today: richer, skinnier, healthier, happier, wiser and smarter. However, this future version of ourselves is not simply going to knock on our front door and take over, we need to create this person. Creating this person means sacrificing what you want today for what you know you will need tomorrow. 

What we do each day moulds us into the person we become. 

The future always seems so far away, until it slaps you in the face. It can be hard to prepare for a rainy day, a difficult time period or the tomorrow’s you feel may never arrive, but it is essential that we start shifting into this mindset. Our current circumstances have shown how foolishly we have been living and we should all take this as a severe lesson to be learnt and never to be repeated again.

“A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door.” ― Confucius

The future always seems so far away. 

It always seems that next month is the best time to start managing your finances. Tomorrow always seems like the day you will become the more responsible version of yourself, but that tomorrow never seems to come. We always plan to manage our finances or become stricter with our excessive spending soon, but never right now. It can be hard to stop spending on wants, which is why we always ignore preparing for inevitable, but we will feel more confident once we do. 

The future is built on what one does today, so make the foundation of all of your tomorrow’s as strong as you possibly can.

“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

It is so much easier to ignore your finances than to actually delve deep into them because it can be stressful to balance your budget. 

The idea of managing your money can be overwhelming because most of us do not know where to start. However, there are professionals to help us with this matter. Get your finances in check by making an appointment with your bank, so that they can help you get on the right path. In the beginning, it might feel cumbersome and foreign to start balancing your budget, but the payoff will be worth it. Once you start realizing where your money goes, controlling excessive or unnecessary spending and saving for the future, you will start looking forward to this daily ritual. 

Managing your money feels as though you will have to forgo all of today’s pleasures.

When we are living outside of our means it can be hard to imagine a future without all of the luxuries we have become accustomed to. The problem with this thinking is that a lot of the things we believe are privileges are actually self-made prisons. If you are buying clothes on credit, driving a car you are making monthly payments on and eating out when you have a lot of debt, you are living outside of your means. 

The privileges you think you deserve you actually cannot afford and you are lying to yourself and jeopardizing your future when you choose to continue living this way. 

Living below your earnings means that you are making smarter decisions today, so that tomorrow is that much easier. It does not mean that you can never go out for dinner, buy a new shirt or get a coffee to go, it simply means you have to make these purchases less often and with more forethought put into them. 

Stop spending without thinking. Stop imprisoning yourself with impulse buying and start strategically spending your savings.

Stop letting urges imprison you into a lifestyle you loathe. 

The more your save, the easier life will get. 

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” ― John F. Kennedy

In the beginning, it will be very tough to become frugal, but as the days become weeks and weeks morph into months you will start seeing the benefits. When you are no longer chained to a monthly credit card payment or imprisoned by monthly car payments you will realize how far your paycheck really goes. Once you start ridding yourself of debt and attaining some savings, you will feel more confident in your ability to make smart decisions about money. You will start enjoying making dinners at home because you will see how much money you were wasting away at restaurants and bars. 

You are afraid that if you stop living the way you do, you will lose your social life. 

Saving money and being a hermit does not have to go hand in hand. You can still see your friends, travel, and have a full and exciting life without burning through the dollar bills. Start hosting monthly potluck dinners with your friends, instead of meeting for drinks every week. Create a book club, so that you can socialize with others at one another’s homes, instead of establishments where you spend an excessive amount. Find cheap, fun ways to exercise, instead of paying for a pricey gym membership. Look for deals and discounts for things you enjoy doing or activities you are interested in pursuing. 

“Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.” ― Thomas Edison

Let this time of crisis not be lost to stress. 

Learn from what is happening and what has been negatively impacting you. How can you now be better prepared for the future? What habits do you need to rid yourself of? What habits do you need to instill in your lifestyle? We do not wish for bad days, but we must be ready for them. The better prepared we are, the better we are to ourselves, our family and friends. 

Once we have learned to live with less is when we are actually living a life of wealth.