Thursday, March 17, 2016

Living Within Our Means!

Let's face it, money is a necessity. If we want to eat, we need money, if we want shelter, we need money, if we want to clothe our body, we need money and let's not forget if we want to stay healthy, we need money.   We can love it or hate it but the truth is money is a necessity tool for life.

OK, so let's not get caught up on how elusive money may be at times or how quickly it leaves our bank accounts.  I want to focus your attention on what we can do when dealing with little money.  First let's look at our lifestyles and figure out what are we spending on which we really could do without.

Oh, I know, you may think you need everything you have and in some way it may be true....however is it an absolute necessity?.   Let me share with you my experience.

My Ex-husband and I both made good money, we fell in the higher end of the middle class income; however we were always broke.  How could that be?  Well, the truth is that we wanted to live a life that we could not afford.  We wanted to do more than our money would allow us to, so what happened?  We were struggling to meet our responsibilities.  Now, you might not be in that situation however I learned so much from my divorce.   You see, when I was married and making that kind of money, I was always broke. But when when I divorced I also lost my job and made a bad choice, I let my soon to be Ex to convince me to not pursue him on child support, he would instead simply help when needed.  Well, you can imagine how that went!  I spent an entire year without work, 6 months with unemployment benefits and 6 months with nothing at all.  My daughter who was in High-school, worked in Burger King part time and the little money she made and with the little money I was able to get from child support was used for us to stay afloat.  So you can imagine how creative we needed to be.  I learned to use a little bit of money to pay bills, buy food and get by.  

A year later, I found a good job however I was making 16k dollars less for more work.  Well, I am not going to complain as I was thankful to be working. But this is what I came to realize.  I found that I had more with less.  My income was more than enough for me to provide for me and my daughter, have a wonderful apartment, nice furniture and my fridge and pantry was always full.  I was able to extend my hand to others and I was able to go to the movies and out to eat with friends.   So how was it possible that I could not do that when we were making more....lots more?

Simple, I was no longer living outside my means.  I had learned to have what I need and spend money wisely.  Yes, I have cable and I pay a premium I need it? No, but my daughter likes it.  However that is the only expense I have which I don't need.  Everything else that I have has a purpose.  I have one credit card and I keep it low.  Everything I have is mine and I do not get into a debt unless I am certain I can pay it off and plan an exit date.

So, now I ask you, from all your expenses, which expenses can you eliminate or reduce?

How many times do you eat out?   I am not saying to eliminate eating out, but maybe you reduce the amount of times and put that money aside.

How much do you pay for Cable, Dish or Directv?  What program do you really need and what are your options?  You should pay for what you need, therefore if you have no time for movies, you don't need the movie channel.

How much are you paying for memberships?  Let's face it, if you are going to the gym, then by all means you are investing in yourself.  But if you are paying for a membership and not going to the gym, then you are just giving money it.

Go through all your expenses and call your providers.......have them go over your account with you, you may find things you can cut out of your bill, saving you money.   I called my phone carrier and when they reviewed my account between data and other things, I was able to save over 50.00 a month.  I did a happy dance when they told much can you be saving?

I am not here to tell you that you need to stop enjoying what you enjoy, or live as you do.  But if you are strapped for cash, you might be able to free some up by following these suggestions.    This can help provide some breathing room.  Like I said, I learned to do more with less and feel better for it.

Now lets talk about goals and lack of money.   We set up goals in order to improve our lives but then we find ourselves struggling to pay bills and there is little to no money to explore our options.   Yes, this is a sad truth but its not the ultimate truth.  Part of our goals is researching our options.

Get clear on what you want to achieve and WHY?   You must have a clear mental picture of what you want and understand why your life would benefit from achieving such.

What does this goal require?   This is where you need to identify how much time, money, skills or tools you need.  When we say "tools" this can be tangible or intangible tools, such as training, information, etc.

When do you want this goal achieved by?   If we don't set a timeline we will never get close to achieving our goals.  Yes, we may miss our dates, however since we can measure our progress we  can re-focus our attention and modify our time lines as needed.

 "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail" - Benjamin Franklin here we are, we need to answer these questions as honestly as possible and with it comes research.  Answering these questions, cost you no money.  Researching your options via the Web, Library or by reaching out to those that do what you want, costs you no money.  In fact, by researching your options and taking notes from those who've gone before us, you will learn things you did not know existed or were possible.

Once you have done research, you will know what other steps you can take that cost you no money. But something else will happen.  As you submerge yourself into this goal, you will begin to find ways of saving some money that can be applied towards working toward this goal.  You will be motivated to freeing up cash and reallocating it to improving your life.  Which if you think of it means you go from spending money to investing it.  Because anything you do for you growth is an investment in you.

How much do you need for your goal?  We can't just say, "more than I have".  Again I the research, it may be more than you have but less than you thought.  It may be more than you have, but you may find that finding the cash for this is doable.  Bottom line, if you don't do the research you will never know and if you don't free up your cash from that which you don't need, you won't have the cash to use for that which you do!

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