It is one of the things that makes the world go round. For many people it is all that makes their world go round. Earlier in my life with idea of how to handle money there was little doubt or concern about how much spending built up on my credit cards. At one point in college I was forced to rely on my credit cards to pay for groceries as my income as a student barely covered my rent let alone extended to food.
My early thirties brought with it the recognition that my credit was shot and the realization something had to be done - and fast. Out I went to purchase every book on money saving that could be found. (Anyone else see the irony in this?) Books like: Die Broke by Steven Pollan, Live Well on Less Than You Think by Fred Brock, The Best of the Cheapskate Monthly by Mary Hunt, Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin and The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczn. Everybook was read and in some cases re-read. They are still on the bookshelf in the back room and get referred to fairly often.
The spending came to a grinding halt. Payment plans were set up for all debt and a rapid repayment schedule was implemented. In the beginning the process was agonizingly painful. No Starbucks Lattes, no expensive treats at Whole Foods, no trendy new clothing, no hour long calls to friends out of state, no extras period.
Sure, I slipped. Then the guilt would set in and I would refocus and move ahead with renewed vigor. Cable TV did not exist in my apartment, no cell phone (they were just getting trendy), no haircuts (I actually cut my own for a while- that is not recommended), the library was my friend and my only splurge was a gym membership. It was the one time in my life I religiously used the gym. The "no cable" might have had something to do with it. I was broke but my body was smokin' hot.
Having tried a variety of things to save money, cooking from scratch, using coupons, making my own laundry soap, freezing my credit cards in ice (that will slow you down!) as well as building up to a full pantry, I can say it all helps. Every penny saved helps to move away from debilitating debt.
Living within your income can be challenging but it is much easier than sleepless nights over the amount of debt that as been accumulated. It involves sacrifice and a great deal of perseverance.
After the holidays is a great time to sit down and reassess where we stand financially. This weekend will bring a review of credit cards, a reorganization and inventory of the pantry as well as an assessment of financial goals for the upcoming year.
How do you live within your means?