The Joy of Living Within Your Means

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I’ve found people who are bad with money typically know they’re bad with it, but they think just having or making more would solve that problem. That couldn’t be further from the truth. If you currently spend everything you make, no increase in income is going to change that. You have to learn to live within your current means before making more will ever help. I would invite you to take a moment to think about what life would be like if you lived below your current income, if you had enough money for everything you need with a little bit left over. I’ll wait…

Would you work less? Would you travel more? Would you spend more time with your kids or your spouse or your family and friends? Would you volunteer in other countries or give to your favorite charity? Would you sit on the back porch with your husband and drink coffee and listen to the birds?

Life is too short and too good to worry about money, and you don’t have to be “rich” in order to stop, but you do have to live within your means. Of all the people I’ve talked to about their finances, I’ve never met a single person who wasn’t able to do that. But I’ve met plenty who have chosen not to.

I’m a nurse, which can be like, the worst job on the planet. Don’t get me wrong, there are great aspects of- and very fulfilling roles in- the field of nursing, but a lot of the time we’re taking care of people who don’t take care of themselves, which is God-awful. You smoked like a chimney since you were twelve and suddenly it’s my fault you can’t breathe?

Nursing can be high stress- physically demanding, emotionally draining, and absolutely exhausting. We’re on our feet 12+ hours days/nights/weekends/holidays fielding call lights, phone calls, new orders, physicians, alarms, beeping drips, blood draws, confused/crashing/detoxing/falling out of bed patients, and at times I’m-sure-they-mean-well-but-can-be-the-most-annoying-people-on-the-planet family members. We wipe grown men’s butts for God’s sake.

I’m not bashing on my profession, I’m simply saying that as a nurse, why on Earth would I want any part of the income I earn going anywhere else but straight into my checking, savings, and investments?

We live within our means so our extra money can go straight into adventures. Like the time Greg had to carry both our packs- on his birthday- when I got super sick in Nepal.

Is the interest you’re paying every month on student loans and credit cards and car payments and a mortgage worth the 12, 24, 36 hours of suctioning fresh tracheostomies, and emptying rectal foleys, and gowning up for C. diff, and turning 400 lb “patients of size”, and {enter the worst parts of your job here} you have to do to pay for it? No sir, not me, I guarantee it. I want much more than this provincial life. 

I am not a natural saver. I was not raised to save anything, money or otherwise. But my mother did limit us to just one Pop-Tart at a time, so I suppose that counts. Now I save calories as joyfully as anything else. Living within your means is a learned behavior, and one everyone is capable of adopting. I know the very idea of using and spending less turns people off because they see it as “deprivation”, but I see not having enough for the things you need- food, shelter, utilities, clean water- as the highest deprivation imaginable, forget about the things you want. And when you spend more than you make, you don’t have enough

As always, I think everyone should list their expenses and make a budget. You don’t have to jump into my beloved spreadsheets right away, but just physically write your monthly expenses down. Figure out how much you should be spending every month and keep track of what you actually spend going forward. If you do nothing else to save money but write down what you spend, I guarantee you will spend less. Who knows, maybe even less than you make. And that extra money could go toward paying off a debt. Or lots of debt. Or toward a vacation. Or toward a career change so you can walk dogs or answer phones or stock the shelves at Walmart. You know, anything but wiping grown men’s butts for a living.

I know from experience how much harder it is being broke than it is having expendable income, and I’m telling you there’s no greater feeling of satisfaction or contentment knowing you can afford to do and buy the things you want, and still have money left over. When you spend less than you make you gain real, solid power to accomplish your hopes and dreams. You gain freedom. And choices. And it sure makes going to a crappy (pun) job a lot more tolerable. Exciting, even. Because the money you earn works for you, and not against you. 

Our extra money fooded us through Germany’s Christmas markets.



If you’re struggling to live beneath your means I would love to help. I can show you how much you’re paying in interest every month, how long it will take to pay off debts making only minimum payments, how long it will take to pay off debts throwing every extra dollar you make at them, and give you a debt-repayment strategy with a month by month spending plan. I can show you what it would be like to live on less than you make. Spoiler alert! It’s thrilling.

It is my #1 goal to make enough passive income to be a full-time, free financial life coach while I enjoy doing what I really love- hiking and camping and traveling- and I am so very happy to help anyone pro bono. But if you’d like to support us and/or remain anonymous, I do sell my spreadsheets and budgeting services on Fiverr for- you guessed it- $5. I’m jamie9012. Tell all your friends.

What would you do if you had money leftover every paycheck?


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