Doesn’t it just suck not to have money for everything you want to do? You want to go to lunch with your friends, but also kinda need gas for your car, plus your best friend’s birthday is in a week and you want to get them a present.
All of these things to buy, but you’ve only got so much money! How in the heck are you going to have enough to do all of this? The answer is simple.
Live within your means.
That may seem like such a simple concept, but you would be surprised at how many people operate without a plan. It’s like going on a road trip, but you have no idea where you’re going!
The good news is that there are ways to live within your means. In fact, let’s get you set up with a super-simple plan right now!
We’ll define your priorities, lay out steps for you to be intentional, and even put together a budget so that you’re sure you can make everything you want to do happen!
You’ve probably heard this word before. Contrary to popular belief, priorities can be fun. No, not all priorities are homework over Netflix, I promise. Priorities are what’s important to you.
Priorities with your money genuinely show what kind of person you are. For example, if you’re a person that values experiences, a lot of your money will naturally go to entertainment and experiences. If you’re a person that values stuff, your money will go to stuff. If you’re a generous person… you get my point, right?
If you’ve never defined your priorities, whether for your money or for anything, now is probably a good time to start.
Let’s do a quick exercise to see what you find important. Woah there! No workout clothes! This is strictly a no-movement exercise.
Get out something to write with and some paper. You could also use the notes on your phone. Whatever works best for you.
Now think. What three things in life are most important to you? What three things would you say define successful? Is it happiness? Wealth? A loving family? Generosity?
Think about those three things and write them down on that paper. Those three things are your highest priorities. For me, those things are happiness, passion in my work, and helping others. What are your three things?
Now that we know what your top three priorities are, we can start to align your life with those priorities. You can only live true to your priorities if you are intentional with everything you do. This means your time, money, and energy are all spent on purpose.
Intentionality is most easily seen through your goals. Goals help me stay honest, accountable, and productive. So, if we’re going to help you live within your means, we’re going to have to set some goals.
Setting goals isn’t hard at all, and achieving them is a little easier if you set your goals the right way.
A good goal is specific. Instead of “I want to save money” (bad goal), you’d say “I want to save $1,000” (good goal). Something that helps me know if my goal is specific is if I could make a chart to track my progress, then I know that goal is specific. A specific goal is measurable.
A good goal is timed. If I wanted to save $1,000, I could easily take ten years to do it if I don’t tell myself that I need to have it done in 6 months. If you put a time limit on a goal, you are more likely to be achieve it on or before that deadline.
A good goal is written down and visible every day. Put that goal down on a sticky note or something! Stick that sticky note somewhere you know you’ll see it every day! I try to put my goals in several places so that I’m constantly reminded. My goals are in my bullet journal, on my computer desktop, and even my bathroom mirror.
One thing that helps me make sure that I achieve my goal is that I imagine what my life is going to be like after I achieve that goal. To keep using our save $1,000 example, I would imagine going on a cruise with all my friends in the summer, if that’s what I was saving for. I try to imagine everything, from the place we were going down to the shoes I’d be wearing.
The more real the results seem, the more you’ll be willing to do the work to achieve your goal. What are you waiting for? Set some goals right now!
If you really want to be intentional in your financial life, then you need to budget.
Budgets, contrary to popular belief, are not boring, evil, or awful. A budget can be super awesome if you do it right.
In order to budget, you need to decide how you’re going to do it. I like to use apps to budget, and there are a lot of apps out there to help you. My personal favorite is YNAB, but a lot of people like Mint and EveryDollar. Whatever floats your boat, even if that’s a piece of paper, you need to pick a way you’re going to like budgeting so that you can live within your means.
Next, you need to put your income down on the paper or in the income box in your app. See? This stuff isn’t so hard!
After you enter your income, make sure you pay yourself first. Kick back a little for your college, or a new car, or anything you’ll need to save for. Try to get into the habit of saving first, because that puts you on good financial footing for the future.
After that, you need to tell your money where it’s going to go that month. If you need to pay a cell phone bill, then put money towards that. Want to go to the mall with your friends? Put some money towards that! Is an awesome new game coming out and you just can’t wait to buy it? Put some money towards that! Put your money anywhere that you’re going to spend it, whatever that is. That money is yours, and, as long as you’re spending on purpose, you’re doing awesome!
Can’t you see how easy it is to live within your means? A budget does not mean deprivation, it means freedom to spend your money how you’d like, on purpose.