How To Live Within Your Means: 10 Simple Steps To Get You There

How To Live Within Your Means - The Calm Collective

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope you all had a super relaxing weekend. We spilt it up this time and decided to work on the house a little. We also ensured that we got out and enjoyed Northern Michigan in the winter. Especially since we’re going to be traveling here soon for the rest of the month. I leave for San Francisco TOMORROW to squeeze my sister and soak up her beautiful babies for an entire week. Honestly I cannot wait. If you’re interested to see how I’m packing for this trip, follow along on IG stories today as I’m going to be documenting the process. Some of you may be like, um, no thanks. While others may be intrigued to see how I go about picking and choosing. Or how I’m able to pack for a week in one single carry on! So just in case, the PSA is out. :)

So today I wanted to talk about finance, and learning how to live within your means (remember how I told you I’m a total finance junky/nerd and am obsessed with budgeting? I was clearly serious). This was one of the hardest lessons that I had to learn, and by far the biggest adjustment that I had to make. Money and budgeting is hands down a direct correlation between living a more mindful and simple life, and embracing a lifestyle with less.

The less you consume, the less you spend.

When you practice purchasing things out of need, rather than out of want, you’ll find yourself spending less money just for the sake of it. You’ll begin to train your brain to take a pause and decide if it’s something that will actually bring long lasting value, rather than temporary satisfaction.

The better you consume, the less you spend.

When you choose to spend money on things of great quality, you’ll end up with things that last you so much longer and in turn – prevent you from having to replace items that have since worn or didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. (another great reason to thoroughly read reviews!)

So lets dive in to 10 ways you can adjust your behaviors and habits to start living within your means and taking back your financial freedom.

10 Ways To Live Within Your Means

How To Live Within Your Means - The Calm Collective

Decide what you can live without

This is by far the hardest part. I won’t sugar coat it or try to tell you any different. I know certain (great) books will tell you to simply hold something in your hands and decide if it brings you joy – and then, discard it or keep it. But I’m here to tell you first hand, that shit is hard. You can find me being like “Um, it brings me joy MOST days.. but maybe not ALL days. So now what do I do?!” It’s a complicated game, so instead, this is what I do: if I haven’t used it in 6 months, I donate it or I offer it up to friends. If I haven’t used it in 3 months, I store it away in a box and see how long it takes for me to miss it. If the 6 month mark hits, I donate.

I also try to live by the one in, one out method. If I buy something new (say, a sweater) I get go of a sweater that hasn’t gotten much attention. Another trick? If you’re having a hard time parting with something but you know you don’t get any use out of it, give it to a friend. Be honest with the intention. Say: “I’m giving this to you in case I ever want to borrow it.” Sounds funny, but it a) makes letting go so much easier, and b) frees up your space and makes someone else happy.

Spend less than what you make

Ha, if only it were that easy, right? I know, I know. Especially if you have your own business — learning how to spend less than what I make has been such a challenge, because my income is always fluctuating. This is why having a budget and creating a separate spending account is so incredibly crucial. Have one day a month, preferably in the middle, where you evaluate how you’re doing and what you’re spending (and on what). At the end of the month, prepare for the upcoming month to ensure you stay on track, you know where you are financially and you make any adjustments for upcoming expenses.

Rid yourself of debt (and do it yesterday)

If you have debt, getting rid of it should be your other full time job. Not only is this wreaking havoc on your psyche and your stress levels (whether you realize it or not), but it’s ruining your credit and following you every where. Can you even imagine being debt free? Owing absolutely nothing to anyone!? Being free to budget and save how you please, because you can? I promise you, you can do it.

You just have to commit and adjust.

Repeat that: commit and adjust.

This means stop going out to dinner with your friends for a few months (see: point 10), borrow clothes from friends instead of going shopping, have your friends hold on to your credit cards if you have impulsive behaviors and only use cash until you’ve got your debt under control. It takes work, but holy hell, will it be worth it to quit wasting money on interest, and use that money towards your savings. Speaking of which…

Each month, put money into savings

Yep, even if you’re in debt and trying to pay it off. Always commit to putting a little bit away. You have zero reason not to, and this will allow for you to not only live within your means, but live comfortably knowing that you have an emergency fund, should you need it. My biggest tip for this? Create an account that isn’t directly accessible. Otherwise, you may find that you’re putting your hands in the cookie jar far too often.

Avoid temptations

The best example I can give right now is Amazon. GAH, how tough is this beautiful creation?! With just a click of a button, we can have (basically) anything that our heart desires in just two days. I totally get it. For a while there, I had to deactivate my membership while I wanted to get my life back on track and get to the root of my emotional and impulsive spending.

Now, I’ll admit it, I’m not exactly where I want to be yet, but I can tell you now I’m able to have my membership and sit on purchases for a couple of days before pulling the trigger. I also deleted the app from my phone, which made it SO much less tempting to buy things out of “want”. Recognize your temptations and your triggers. Honor them, love on them. Don’t ignore them and push them away. They’ll be patient and wait for you — instead, address them and get your mind in a place where it isn’t dependent on stuff to find value.

Don’t pay mind to The Joneses

The comparison game is a gnarly beast that creeps up whenever she wants, am I right? This was a hard one for me to get a firm grasp on, too. I’ll admit it. But I’m happy to report that I don’t measure my happiness and my success by the results of other people’s spending habits and material possessions. There is just no point. It’s a waste of my energy to live in a state that isn’t my own — a state that doesn’t belong to me. Now, if I ever get a pang of jealousy or “I wish I could have that” and I know it’s coming from a real place of desire, I focus my energy on inspiration and motivation. I make sure that it’s something that I truly want for myself at the root of it, not just surface level, and I figure out what I would need to do to get it. Would it require me to work a few long nights? Is that worth it to me? You get the picture.

Unfollow bad influences, both online and in real life

This is related to the post I wrote a while back about toxic relationships, and I whole heartedly believe that the internet world is no exception. If you’re following someone who, even if you think is the cutest person on planet Earth, deep down makes you feel inadequate or out of sync with your own sweet life, unfollow them. Your intuition isn’t ready for their highlight reel yet, or maybe you’re still searching for peace in an unknown area of your life. Be patient with yourself and give yourself the space to figure it out. Because you will.

Create a side hustle

If you’re excited about the idea of living within your means and not having to stress about finances, but your current situation just isn’t setting you up for success, consider starting a side hustle. Maybe that means you walk your neighbors dogs, take on some babysitting gigs, start doing some freelance writing for online publications, sell some of your clothes on Poshmark or eBay.  The options are endless — it just depends on how hungry you are to make a positive change.

Shop local for your groceries

If you’re able, utilize your city’s farmers markets for your produce and other groceries (bread, butter, jams, juice, etc) Not only is it so much better for you (it’s local and its pesticide free!), but it’s half the cost of what you’ll get for your bunch of kale in the grocery store.

Cook at home more

Speaking of groceries, getting into the habit of cooking at home more will save you SO much money it’s actually crazy. If you’re someone who dines out often due to convenience, I hear you. But there are other ways. Get a crock pot! That’s my biggest piece of advice ;) It takes little to no ingredients to make a killer meal (eh em: chicken, salsa, taco seasoning is my favorite), and no effort on your part to put it together. I also encourage you to check your bank statements and see how much money you’re spending each month on restaurants. Often times we just sweep that under the rug, rather than looking at it head on. But seeing the actual number that’s going out of your wallet can often times be enough to make a change.  (If you’re not all that inspired by cooking, try out services like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh. They send the ingredients for 3 meals each week with fool proof instructions!)

How To Live Within Your Means - The Calm Collective

So there you have it! My top 10 tips for learning how to live within your means. Again, I wish I could scream this from the rooftops that I know it’s not easy.  I can’t even tell you how worth it it is to put in the work and get a little uncomfortable. The result is financial freedom, and in turn, an abundance of so many great things that you’ve now got the room for,  since you’re no longer spending time stressing about money or paying your rent, or wondering how you’ll be able to afford your car payment. Personally, I’m so excited for you.

Here if you need me. x

PS: How to declutter your closet with ease & 5 ways you can simplify your life today