Sometimes we speak of “living below our means” as if it is an arduous practice that requires us to stifle our desires and make tough decisions about what we should not buy. This is one way to look at it but when it comes to budgeting there is a much easier perspective to take. Living modestly because you want to.
When you think about the last few purchases you have made, chances are they were not all worthwhile. Living on a budget isn’t so much about looking at the devil on your shoulder with a slanted eye. Over and over again we make purchases that don’t actually add any real value to our lives. We see movies that aren’t very good, we eat at restaurants that are mediocre, we purchase cheap goods that don’t last.
The trick to living modestly could be in considering how much the buy is going to create any sort of positive experience for us. We could spend our time trying to convince ourselves that we don’t have the money for those new golf clubs or we could realize that we don’t actually golf as much as we think. It might be a better investment to purchase some golf lessons, which are going to do a lot more to improve the quality of our experience.
Living modestly doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to avoid purchases, but it actually will help us to avoid clutter. When we look in our garages and storage spaces we see tons of items that we have acquired over the years. We see items used so infrequently that they are hidden in out of reach places and often covered in dust.
But we don’t just spend out money on physical goods. We also spend it on trips and dinners. These things also can be reconsidered. The amount of money you spend going out to eat for dinner doesn’t always equate to a more enjoyable night. Cooking together or having a dinner party at a friend’s house is a much more cost effective way to spend an evening and often times is an even better time.
We have the opportunity to shift our thinking from one that views the modest life as one of chaste to one of discernment. Taking a few seconds to qualify the impact of the purchases we make will often lead us to making better decisions. Lowering our spending can happen by simply raising our standards.
The key to cutting back is thinking of those Monday mornings when we don’t want to go to work. If the purchases we make aren’t going to create an equal amount of satisfaction as the effort we put into earning our money, then they aren’t worth it and we should hold on to our cash for something that is.