Which do you find more fun, spending or saving?
If you answered saving, I'd be very surprised! Most people, me included, love to buy things.
I'm not saying that most people don't desire savings. Many, in fact, do! It's just that spending money, especially discretionary spending, often brings immediate comfort and gratification. Yet, problems can begin to arise when we begin believing that our discretionary expenditures are now necessities and then increase spending to enjoy some new comforts.
We all have an emotional tie to money. Are you sabotaging your savings? If you?re not living within your means, your spending habits may very well be keeping you from reaching your financial goals.
This problem is more challenging for affluent families. Ever hear of the saying: "Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations"
Most people would agree that you are not living within your means when you spend more than you earn. Some 15 percent of Americans do just that, according to the 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances by the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, another 26 percent said their spending often equaled their income. To some families, just breaking even means they are living within their means. This may be a fair conclusion for families with very modest incomes, where after paying for their basic necessities, have just made ends meet.
Yet, I define living within your means as spending less than you earn, saving some of your income and having little to no "bad" debt. Having some debt is not entirely bad; having "good" debt can help you build wealth. "Good" debt is debt that lets you build net worth, like borrowing for a home, getting a degree or making home improvements that build equity.
The good news is that it is never too late to shape up. Taking control of your budget, paying off those credit card bills, and shifting from the present to the future tense will not only be good for your bank account, it will give you a real sense of empowerment. And no, that doesn't necessarily mean you can't buy those designer clothes. It's all about compromise!