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Live Within Your Financial Means

Living Below Your Means Is the Fastest Way to Build Wealth

Actually, you should live below your means! The most important way to generate wealth is to live within or below your means. For example, if you make $30,000 a year, then live like you make $25,000 a year and save, pay down debt, or invest the remaining $5,000. So many of my friends that have incomes over $50,000, $75,000 and even $150,000 have spent everything they’ve earned and have almost nothing to show for it. Don’t try to compete with your friends or neighbors, don’t spend money fruitlessly, and most importantly, don’t spend more than you make. Many people read this and think, “I’d love to spend less money but I can’t, I have to pay my car payment, the credit card bills, groceries, I need a vacation, I need new clothes for work, etc, etc.” Most of these expenses could be avoided or deferred (like a vacation, a car purchase or buying clothes). The other expenses (like your credit card expenses or mortgage) could likely have been avoided if you had lived within your means when you created the expense. For example, your car payment would be less if you’d opted for the used versus new car, or your credit card expenses would be lower if you hadn’t bought that new computer or those 5 pairs of shoes. Even your mortgage or rent could be less if you chose a different location to live. With that said, there is a fine line between spending appropriately and spending above your means. Just remember that it is always better to forego purchases until you can pay for them in cash rather than to borrow from the future to meet your needs now. The most common exception to this rule is buying a house. Although it will raise your cash expenses dramatically, it is often wise because 1) it’s an investment which will add to your future net worth, 2) the interest is tax deductible which effectively lowers your income tax liability, 3) your mortgage payments will add to your net worth as you pay down the principal on the loan, and 4) you were probably paying rent anyway so it will in effect turn your rent payment into an investment.

The next rule is to stay out of credit card debt: