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The Art of Debt-Free Living—Living Large on Less Than You Earn

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Spend Less, Gain More

By Deborah Nayrocker
Guest Writer When asked what worries keep them up at night, participants in a recent Real Simple Magazine survey said it was money worries. They’re concerned they’re spending too much money and not saving enough. They are highly leveraged, and there’s reason to worry.

Last year personal bankruptcy filings in the United States totaled more than $1.7 million. American households have an average of $9,300 in credit card debt. They are struggling to save for emergencies and even for retirement, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education.

Many people believe that having more money is the solution to money problems. Yet as their salaries increase, they continue to spend what they earn and more. For the past two years in a row, Americans collectively spent more than they earned, according to the Commerce Department.

Families haven’t taken charge of where their money goes and how much they spend. They are stuck in a pit they created by poor financial planning. And it’s not easy to climb out of the pit of credit and growing debt. Taking on debt leads to a relationship of dependence to the lenders.

When families continue to live beyond their means, sooner or later they must face their spending and lifestyle habits. Today many consumers are being forced to confront their financial balance sheets.

Taking a good look at the financial picture now and turning to positive solutions will help avoid more problems down the road. Finding ways to spend less than one’s income and following through with these solutions can lead to a more rewarding and satisfying life.

Rewards of Spending Less Than You Earn

You can manage your financial obligations more easily. There are countless decisions and choices to make in life. One question you may need to revisit is, “What’s enough for me?”

Ninety-five percent of families do not consistently budget. What is sufficient for you in the areas of housing, transportation, clothing, food, and entertainment? Focus more on the necessities and less on the extras.

Decide what is enough for you and your family, and what you can live without. Look for ways to simplify your life and own fewer things. As you look for expenses to cut, you’ll realize that it is possible to be content with fewer things.

Decide what compromises need to be made and how much to spend for food, clothing, and shelter. Figure out how to spend wisely. It’s more important to eat together as a family than where you’re able to eat.

Older children can be a part of the decision-making process of the budget. Take a team approach. Discuss the benefits of budgeting. By careful planning and staying with the plan, everyone involved can make a big difference.

You are better able to save. Another real reward of spending less money is having more to save. Think of your savings as insurance for future needs. Instead of reaching for your credit card to pay for a car repair, take the money from your emergency fund.

Following your spending plan will help you keep expenses down and increase your savings and investing amounts. By systematically building your savings accounts, you become more financially independent. You’ll benefit from the time value of money, having interest work for you.

You are less likely to lose your possessions. When you spend less than you earn, you are better able to keep your home and car. Fifty percent of subprime mortgages were made to people with bad credit and no proof of income.

Families invite financial difficulties into their lives by living “on the edge.” They spend frivolously, living in houses and driving cars they can’t afford. If they don’t put the brakes on their spending, a crash is inevitable.

Purchases are often made to impress friends or family. Or purchases are based more on wishes and dreams than on solid long-range planning. Assets can be fleeting.

Some families have not lived frivolously, yet have found themselves in tough financial circumstances.

You are more prepared for a job loss. When money is tight, it’s even tougher to handle a lay-off from work.

In today’s global economy, changes in one business sector can affect other business sectors. With today’s rapidly changing business environment, you can no longer expect long-term security in your job.

But when your family’s budget is balanced and you have money set aside for emergencies, the loss of a job is less devastating.

There are physiological and psychological benefits to spending less than you earn. Better communication exists among family members when there is less preoccupation with money problems. Couples and families lead happier lives and relationships improve. There’s less anxiety and stress. This contributes to better health today and in the future.

How can you have financial stability? A workable spending plan can reduce wasteful and impulse spending. Figure out manageable strategies to meet your goals. It is possible to turn money worries into a rewarding spending plan. With fewer financial obligations, you’re able to have a surplus for future needs and wants.

When you have a proactive financial plan, you are more prepared for the changing stages of life. And you can look forward to the future with more hope and confidence.

Deborah NayrockerDeborah Nayrocker writes on personal money management topics, showing others how to take control of their financial future. Deborah is the award-winning author of The Art of Debt-Free LivingLiving Large on Less Than You Earn. She is also the author of Living a Balanced Financial Life, a popular Bible study focusing on money management.

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