A modest standard of living means every aspect of your life can be more secure.
Keeping up with the Jones isn't what it's cracked up to be. The Jones, themselves, are probably struggling to make ends meet. A better choice is living frugally, and that isn't as boring and unfulfilling as it sounds.
Being frugal doesn't necessarily mean pinching every penny and using paper towels twice. What it does mean is spending less than you earn, and making that a regular habit. With what's left, you can build wealth for a better, more secure future.
Large Purchases Needn't Be the Most Elaborate
U.S. News and World Report explains that some of the wealthiest people in America don't have the biggest homes or the fanciest cars. Those are status symbols, not wealth builders. A great example is business magnate Warren Buffet, who still lives in the same modest home in Nebraska he has had since 1958.
Before making a large purchase, consider its value and how it will affect your lifestyle. Are you buying status, or are you buying what you need? This doesn't have to mean you'll drive a used clunker or live in a one-bedroom hovel. It only means that a reliable vehicle with a good warranty and a modest home might make life easier to manage than status cars and a McMansion.
Yours might not be the most impressive on the block, but the relief that lower payments give is worth its weight in gold. With the money saved, you can afford special upgrades from time to time.
Don't be afraid of sales, comparison shopping, and saving for what you really want.
Smaller Purchases Can Create Long-Term Problems
Available credit doesn't equal more money in the budget. Some of the smartest money managers use credit as sparingly as possible, saving it for when it's really necessary. Using a credit card to buy more than you can afford on a regular basis is how some families amass an unhealthy amount of debt, which can take years of concerted effort to correct.
Consider the interest you'll pay on everything that you buy using a credit card. Purchasing outside your normal means will cost you more in the long run. If your income can't support buying a $300 dress, squeezing it in using credit means the dress will cost a lot more once it's finally paid for in full. On the other hand, a dress that you can afford with cash costs less up front, and doesn't rack up interest charges as the months go by.
Don't Think of Frugal Living as a Harsh Form of Discipline
You might have friends who eat out every day at lunchtime, drive flashy cars, wear expensive clothing, and have fabulous homes. But what you don't see is the true state of their finances. Many people who present themselves to the world with their finest have the harshest realities in the bank.
Bring frugal isn't a punishment, it's an investment in yourself, says MSN Money. Opting for what you can easily afford instead of what you can almost afford gives you something that many others don't have: Peace of mind and money in the bank. It can also lead to a better credit score, since bills are easier to pay.
Having the very best is only good on the surface if you can't afford it. What use is the finest home if a furnace repair would mean there's no money left for groceries? More importantly, what use is the best of everything now when your retirement will suffer later? A lifetime of security has more value than any impressive purchase.
Mint.com can help you get on track with sensible, frugal living. The innovative budget products help you discover new ways to save money that you might not be aware of. You can see each financial account and debt at a glance, and track spending every step of the way. Mint also helps you live within your means by displaying the current condition of your budget at the touch of a button. Sometimes a simple reminder is enough to help encourage sensible choices.
Sign up for your free account today and start working toward a more financially secure tomorrow.