Spend Less Than You Make

Source: allyou.com via Rayna on Pinterest


As part of the Simplify Your Family Life Sale I am writing about ways to make life easier around the home. The Simplify Your Family Life Sale runs April 16-20 and is a fantastic deal if you are looking for more how-to on saving time, money and space. 35 e-books with a value of $375 for just $29. The Simplify Your Family Life Sale is brought to you in part by Plan to Eat, an online meal planning app that makes eating at home simple. Receive an exclusive coupon code on a one-year membership with your purchase!


This is such a simple concept and yet… it escaped me for years.

For most of my 20’s I spent what I wanted to spend and it had little to do with what I earned. The gap between my earnings and spending was never huge but it was enough to have credit card debt and stay on the minimum payment plan for my student loans. It also kept me in a perpetual state of consumer guilt. The short high I got from buying myself something nice was immediately followed by dread that I couldn’t afford it.

Spending less than you make simplifies family life by:

  • Reducing tension or arguments around spending.
  • Answers the question, can we afford it?
  • Creates a cushion for the inevitable but unexpected bill.

For my family, spending less than we make means my husband and I no longer have arguments about purchases. It’s easier to have a non-judgmental conversation about our ‘wants’ and ‘nice to-haves’ and leave emotions out of it.

This strategy also helps when you have unexpected bills.

Life happens.

The best laid budget can be shredded by car repair bills or a cracked tooth. It’s not a matter of if you’ll have a large unexpected bill but a matter of when.

If you’re living below your means those out of the blue bills sting but you pay them and move on. If you’re living pay cheque to pay cheque those unexpected bills just push you further into debt and make it harder to see a way out.

If you’re in debt or struggling to pay your bills spending less than you earn will be challenging to implement. Start with small changes like cutting a few nice to have bills like cell phones with data plans, premium cable television and curb your eating out. Then look for ways to increase your income to pay off debt (check out this post and the comments section for ideas on creating side income).

It took us a few months to cut our bills and spending and then almost two years to pay off all of our consumer debt. In September of 2011 we were finally able to start spending less than we made and start saving.

Now when we have an unexpected bill we pay it with cash, dipping into our savings if need be, and then get back to our regular savings the next month. The peace we feel now was worth all the hard work of getting out of debt.

Has anyone else had a shift in their financial life from spending more than they made to spending less?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Like this post? Share it:
  • *If you’re living below your means those out of the blue bills sting but you pay them and move on. If you’re living pay cheque to pay cheque those unexpected bills just push you further into debt and make it harder to see a way out.*

    So true.

  • Yes, I made that connection in my early 30’s (I’m now 49) after reading “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. They equated the spending of money with the life energy one had to use up to both buy and maintain each item purchased. It shifted my whole perspective and helped me understand pleasure was not tied to spending, rather, pleasure was separate from spending. And, surprise, life could be enjoyable without spending money. Wow, what a paradigm shift!

  • “It’s not a matter of if you’ll have a large unexpected bill but a matter of when.” ~ great reminder!

    We talk money with our kids and they get to practice with they’re learning with their allowance. We were explaining the cushion in our chequing account (lets us avoid bank service fees!) to someone the other day and our 9 year old son must have been listening more than we thought…. funny how they do that!
    A few days later he was carefully deciding if he wanted to take some money out of his spend tin (he really hates to part with his cash) to do a book order at school, and in all honesty he declared that his feel good cushion was $15. Because he had a little over $26 in his tin, he could afford to buy the book. Wow – an early start to living below his means. So proud of him!

  • First of all, I love your blog! I read it regularly.

    My husband and I got married young (at 19). We are now 22 year old college students both working full time as well. Our budget is pretty tight so it’s been hard to try to save. It’s also hard to see most of our friends doing stuff or going places we can’t afford. It helps to remember that most of them are still living off of their parents or going into debt with student loans and credit cards. We share a car, but we paid for it with cash. We may not be studying abroad, but we will graduate debt free, and also with a decent amount in savings. We don’t own a house, but when we do we plan on paying cash. I just have to remind myself of these things anytime I get discouraged or start comparing our lifestyle with others.

    • HI Laurie, I was there with my husband (although we were a bit older). We lived frugal lifestyles in our 20’s and saved lots when my single friends were ‘living it up’. Now that we are older these friends look at us and wonder how we afford the things we have.
      We were lucky, but we never had any debt that was not housing. It was not easy, but I am thankful every day that we were able to save then, to afford things now.
      Hang in there and just remember that good things come to those who wait!!

  • I’ve always made WAY less money than the people around me, but since I’ve also spent less than I made, it was never a huge deal when those inevitable expenses would arise. In fact, I’m such a compulsive saver that I was even able to quit my job a few years ago and “retire” at the age of 39. At my “retirement party” I found out – to my utter shock – that everybody at the place I worked had assumed for years that I was some sort of trust fund baby because I never stressed about money! It still makes me chuckle.

  • We spend way less than we make (and last year we were made combined well under $50,000). People are always surprised that we can “manage” but if you hardly ever eat out, don’t buy clothes, cut your own hair, etc., it’s really not that hard. BTW, does anyone on here cut his/her own hair? Mine never looks good. Curious how others handle this.

  • My wife and I are in our early 30s and were always fairly frugal, but were blessed with good incomes, so we could get away with some dumb decisions. But, about 5 years ago, I discovered Dave Ramsey and our whole outlook changed. You said it perfectly with, “spend less than you make”. I absolutely love his books and his radio show (which I listen to in podcast form). He’s so inspirational and his advice is second to none. Are you very familiar with him?

    • I am. Haven’t done his course but I brows his website a lot. Good stuff and, like you, I just wish I had put this all together years ago. A simple equation that makes life exponentially easier.

Comments are closed.