The Challenge of Living Below your Means It’s not easy to live below your means. In a world fraught with consumerism and keeping appearances, you are bound to encounter internal and external challenges that will test your resolve. If you are not determined enough, it’s easy to go back to your old ways and be indebted forever or worse, spiral down towards bankruptcy. So before we discuss the ways in which you can live below your means, let’s first discuss the challenges that you will encounter if you intend to do so. The lure of instant gratification will be hard to resist. We’re used to wanting new things now, now, now. An upgraded version of your phone or tablet just came out, you need to have it. There’s a more powerful laptop out that you just need to buy. Your friend just bought a gorgeous designer bag that’s simply to die for—you must have it. With your credit card on hand, it’s easy to march to the store and purchase these things with just one swipe. The reality is that if you keep on buying and buying, the charges will just keep on accumulating. Sure, you feel very elated the moment you bring your new acquisition home but it will just become one of your things afterwards. You’ll still want what the Joneses have. If you’ve been keeping up appearances for your neighbors, it’s going to be a challenge to not do a kitchen renovation when the contractors are busy over at the Joneses modernizing their cooking space. It will be extremely difficult not to sell your relatively-new car so you can afford the downpayment on the manufacturer’s newest model when that same sleek vehicle is already parked in their garage. It’s human nature to want what others have. But you also have to remember that self-restraint is also a natural tendency of human nature—and something that you need to utilize fully when you’re trying to live below your means. Family, friends, and colleagues will think that you are nuts. Loved ones who see how fashionable and trendy you’ve been before with your constantly new acquisitions will think that something has gone terribly wrong with your thought process when you start living below your means. If you’ve been generous with your money before, they might wonder why you’re getting a bit stingy now. Eating lunch you’ve brought from home instead of accompanying
them to the usual hangout for lunch break might seem odd to your coworkers. The only thing that you need to remember when they ask if you need to go to a shrink is this: You know your finances better than they do. You feel the need to reward yourself often. There’s nothing wrong with rewarding yourself once in a while for a job well done or conquering a seemingly impossible situation. However, this becomes wasteful if you reward yourself for every little obstacle conquered that the reward itself gets to become an ordinary part of your routine. For example, you buy yourself a new pair of designer shoes each time the paycheck comes or go out to eat three times a week at the fanciest restaurant in town. Not only do these put a dent on your budget, they also lose their special significance because they are normal and expected. Your income increases. You might think that it’s actually easier to save if you get a raise or get a second job. Unfortunately, research shows that your spending is actually proportional to your earnings. If you’re not careful, you could still end up spending most if not all of your money. If you choose to live below your means, you can do so whether you get a raise or not.
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