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Resolve to Live Below Your Means in 2009

The concept of spending less than we earn seems simple enough, yet many of us struggle to put the idea into practice. Living within your means is a great start to financial stability, but living below your means is a way to ensure that this path isn't disrupted.

Step one is eliminating a reliance on credit cards for anything but emergencies. Step two is creating an emergency fund so that you don't have to pay interest when an unexpected expense arises. This year, I suggest resolving to live below your means so that you have money left over for a substantial emergency fund.

Create small goals for yourself so the overall idea doesn't seem overwhelming. For example, instead of setting a goal to save $3,000 in 2009, aim to save $500 by March and so on. You're more likely to achieve your goal when the end doesn't seem so far away.


Join The Conversation
Antioxidant Antioxidant 8 years
I totally live below my means. The only mega expense that slows me down is my monthly car payment. I'm working on getting that out of the way well before it's due. Other than that, I only buy the bare minimum that I need. Eating out is a twice a week luxury, and new clothes are OUT of the question. The only credit card I have is a QT gas card and of course that gets paid off everytime I get a statement. Having money left over is a wonderful thing. Having multiple savings accounts is too.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 8 years
I gave up credit cards about 10 years ago and have never looked back and haven't missed them. Cash or my VISA/MC Debit card is all I use. I finally accepted my dad and brother-in-law's mantra of "If you cannot pay for it in cash then you should not have it." Funny thing is I spend a lot of time shredded credit card offers that keep being sent to my two nephews (ages 22 and 19). They say they don't want them, then they see their friends using their CC's and buying things that they don't need and shouldn't have and my nephews start thinking that buying on credit couldn't be all that bad. Then I make them calculate the difference between paying the item in cash vs. buying it with a CC and paying it off with interest over time then they get it. Why pay $4000 for a LCD TV that if you'd paid cash would have been a flat $1000 plus tax and no interest.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i started doing this years ago - not using credit cards and the sort, and it's just hard sometimes,but i've managed to cut some of those things out of my use so that i can start to save more and more money. it's hard though - but it's a necessary thing.
margokhal margokhal 8 years
I haven't ever owned a credit card; I don't think I want one. I need one to build up credit though, which makes me nervous. With my debit card, if I don't have the money to buy something and pay it in full right then, I can't buy it, which I like. Sometimes I wish cars and houses worked that way...but then I'd never save enough money to buy one! It makes me think about that movie trailer for "Confessions of a Shopaholic"...maybe I'll just put the credit card in a block of ice! ;D But I hopefully will be going to grad school this I will be forced to live below my means anyway!
Smart-Living Smart-Living 8 years
julieulie- As Spectra said, not everyone is so responsible with their cards. Many people rely on them for everyday expenses while draining their bank accounts with cash withdrawals, and at the end of the month there's not enough to pay their credit card bill in full. If you can use credit cards responsibly, good for you, but unfortunately most of our country isn't there yet. People need to learn to live without the safety net of their cards if they want to get out of debt, and therefore live within or below their means.
krae85 krae85 8 years
definitely will try to! I never use my credit cards anymore, just got finish paying them off, almost there!
Spectra Spectra 8 years
julieulie--I agree with you about not completely eliminating credit cards, but not everyone is as responsible with them as we are. We use our credit card for just about all our monthly expenses because it's just easier to keep track of. We pay the balance off every month from our checking account and we don't ever worry about missing a payment because it's all automatic. I think articles should say something like "Don't use credit cards unless you pay the balance off in full every month". People who are irresponsible with credit cards use them like it's free money...I know that's sort of what my parents did. If there was something they couldn't afford, they'd take out a store credit card or put it on MasterCard and they'd only pay the minimum payment or maybe a little more than that every month. That's where you get in trouble because you have a ton of interest to pay.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 8 years
Done and done. I am going to live (with the exception of rent for a one bedroom in LA) like I make minimum wage. Oh another exception will be that I will not be living off of Top Ramen - it will be rice and beans for me!
julieulie julieulie 8 years
I disagree with how every money-saving article out there starts with eliminating credit card use. I live below my means -- yes, we have a significant amount of debt, but all $250,000 of it is from my husband's medical school education. I carry no educational debt (went to the most expensive school in the country and what I didn't get on academic scholarship, I was able to pay out of pocket with $$ saved from working) and together, we have zero credit card debt. We put EVERYTHING on credit cards, never pay with cash -- and I have never, once, in my 9 years of having my own credit card, not paid off the entire balance in full every month. There is NOTHING WRONG with charging on credit cards -- it is not the fault of the credit card for people spending money. It is the problem of the person for not being able to restrain themselves... and if you know you can't, then don't use credit cards. But the statement that in order to live below your means, you have to start with eliminating credit cards for anything but an emergency is NOT TRUE.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I come from a family that was pretty much perpetually in credit card debt and I often remember coming home from school, letting myself in and checking the mail and calling my mom at work telling her she got something called an "overdraft statement" from the bank. I remember her getting very upset and I never really understood fully why, because I was probably 10 at the time. Once I understood what an overdraft was, I vowed to never spend more money than I had. And my husband comes from an extremely frugal family and is the same way. So we do live below our means, which is definitely a good thing. Starting off your life in a ton of debt is not a good thing at all.
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