One should never be ashamed to live within their means. “Living within your means” means only spending money you can afford to spend, on things you can afford to spend it on.
It may seem contrary to what most people feel is best — having more. However, if you take a moment to think about it, more isn’t always better, especially when it’s too expensive for someone’s budget.
Living beyond your means leads to increased stress levels, lower levels of happiness, as well as a slew of other negatives.
Cons of Living Above Your Means
Let’s go over a few of the many cons of living above one’s means. As we go along, we’ll provide some helpful tips in living within your means and maintaining financial soundness.
More Things Means More Clutter
Buying more things means more clutter around the house. Unless you have a big house to fill with all these new things, of course. But if that’s the case, you’re probably living within your means. Or, you have a lot of debt to deal with in the future.
Even with a lot of nice things, how often would those things get used? One way to decide how to spend your money on nice things for yourself, after you’ve made a budget, is to consider what activities and hobbies you take part in more frequently.
Which purchases will cause you to benefit the most from in the future? Sure you may want that nice, new guitar, but if the old guitar works just fine, buying a new one may not provide any additional happiness for you.
On the other hand, if you’re on your feet all day at work, an expensive but comfortable pair of shoes would be an ideal way to spend a little money on yourself.
When living within your means, you want to look for ways to spend money that will predictably make you happy. This often means doing a bit of research and thinking before making any big purchases, but in the end, it’ll all be worth it. You’ll have less (or no) debt, and will have saved money by not buying things that won’t make you happier.
Small, repeated purchases can also contribute to the downfall of many people. A small coffee purchase here and there may not seem like much, but money spent on little things adds up over time.
These kinds of purchases are easy to overlook because they’re small, unlike purchases of a new electrical appliance, for example. However, budgeting for and remaining conscious of all the money you spend can help you avoid racking up costs where money can easily be saved.
As an example, someone who visits a coffee shop only a few times a week can find themselves spending upwards of $500 a year or more, depending on where they get their coffee. One way to save a good deal of money, in the long run, would be to look into making coffee at home instead of buying it while out and about.
Living beyond one’s means can bring the wrong kind of friends into one’s life.
Any friends who stick by you even when you have to occasionally skip out on an event or dinner to save money will probably remain your friends further down the line. Suggest a home-cooked meal or a dinner at a less expensive location if you need to save money but still want to hang out.
Many people who spend a lot of money find themselves, unfortunately, coming into contact with people who are their “friends” as long as they find themselves benefitting. The moment they stop receiving things or services for free is the moment they’ll start looking for new “friends” to mooch off of.
Of course, if you have money to spend, by all means, spend it. But, by being a conscious spender, you can avoid attracting the wrong kinds of people to yourself. You want to attract and maintain friends based on your character, not your spending habits.
Stress, Unhappiness, Financial Trouble
Budgets are sexy. There, we said it.
It’s not something most people enjoy doing, but thoughtfully creating a budget can save you from a ton of stress and other troubles.
When you make a budget, you don’t even have to stick to it religiously. If something goes awry, or if you really need that one thing, just take a mental note of any unplanned expenditures. Then, you can make adjustments as you go, to make up for any money spent that wasn’t planned for.
For example, you could avoid eating out for a while after making an unplanned purchase to save money equal to the money you’ve spent.
Making budgets and (mostly) sticking to them isn’t the most fun activity you can spend your time doing. But, they will save you from stress and financial trouble in the long run, which are two activities that are no fun at all.
A little inconvenience and planning in the present go a long way towards creating a more pleasant future.
A Generic Life
To live beyond your means sometimes means hoping for a lifestyle that is out of reach, at least at present. When someone lives above their means, it can sometimes mean they are living a life someone else believes is a good life.
While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can cause people to live in a generic, or bland way. If what you do isn’t catered to your own interests, you probably won’t be the happiest you can be. What’s best for one person isn’t usually the best for someone else.
For example, instead of going to concerts that everyone has heard of, you can often save a lot of money by seeking out lesser known concerts. At the same time, you’ll probably find a plethora of music (and other things) that you would never have stumbled upon otherwise.
And, this doesn’t even mean the music will be bad. All musicians have to start somewhere. The less expensive, but more enjoyable concert that you attend in the present could end up being a hot-ticket (and very expensive) concert in the future.
So, you’ll not only have supported an artist as they grow and gain fame, you’ll also have a cool story you can tell your friends and future generations — that you attended a concert for an awesome band before anyone else even knew they existed.
Music concerts have been used as the example here, but the same idea applies to all kinds of events and purchases. Maybe there’s a museum nearby that you haven’t even heard of, but which aligns perfectly with your interests. Or maybe there’s a pair of shoes out there that look better and fit better than the shoes everyone else is wearing. There are also free events you can find if you look hard enough, which are a great way to save money without staying inside all day.
You’ll miss out on a lot of sweet purchases and events if you only look to others to see what they’re doing and try to do the same (expensive) things. You’ll also have an easier time staying within budget and catering your expenditures to yourself if you do your best to live within your means.