Advertising
Advertising

10 Good Changes During My One-Year Experiment Of “Living Below My Means”

10 Good Changes During My One-Year Experiment Of “Living Below My Means”

Living above your means is something that people do all the time. The enjoyment of getting things when you can’t afford them is what drives the credit card and loan industry. Unfortunately, there is also the absolutely infuriating side effect of being in serious debt all the time and that means you may have to live below your means for a while. I experienced this recently and actually some positive things happened. Here are some good changes I experienced by living below my means.

1. I started eating better

The first thing I gave up when I decided to live below my means is fast food and restaurants. It sucked at first because that food is undeniably delicious but after a while I got used to cooking all of my meals at home. Truth be told, I started eating better. My local grocer has 2.5lb bags of frozen vegetables for $2 each. A few bags of those and now I have veggies with every meal.

You wouldn’t think it but you can actually eat pretty well on a serious budget. Rice, noodles, pasta sauce, veggies, and other assorted items come pretty cheap and when you load up on everything, you can have very cheap meals that are pretty decent. I went from eating $200 worth of Taco Bell, Subway, and Chipotle every month along with groceries to spending $150 on only groceries and eating fresh cooked meat, veggies, and noodles that I make and season myself. That also allows me to control my sodium, fat, and calorie intake better!

2. I have become an eBay expert

Advertising

live below your means

    I am a technology buff which gets really expensive after a while. I like having a nice laptop, nice desktop, a nice phone, and a tablet. Unfortunately those things go for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. Thus, I have learned the ancient art of bargain shopping. I don’t get the very latest in technology but I built a desktop computer for $900 that can render a 10 minute video in 5 minutes and play pretty much any game on decent settings. There are always anxious sellers out there who are willing to get rid of good stuff for cheaper than it is worth. It’s just a matter of biding your time and being patient. Which brings me to…

    3. I have learned to be patient

    Getting exactly what you want exactly when you want it is expensive. Pre-ordering games is expensive. Buying the very latest technology and fashion is also expensive. I have learned to wait several months after new stuff comes out because then I can buy it used for a huge discount. This has easily saved me thousands of dollars over the course of the last year. If I don’t have a lot of money and I have a hankering for something specific, I can wait until my next payday to go get it. What used to be a “I must have it now” mentality has now evolved into a “I have to get that eventually.” That switch alone is worth thousands in savings.

    4. I have more disposable income

    live below your means

      This came as quite a shock to me. I used to think I was living right up to the very edge of my paycheck and I always considered getting a second job. Living below your means also means that you’re not spending money frivolously and that means your paychecks stretch longer. I went from having nothing at the end of a pay period to having at least a couple hundred dollars. That’s money in my savings account and it feels so good having a safety net which actually grows every month. Of course, it was good for other things too, like…

      Advertising

      5. I have paid off a significant amount of my debt

      With the extra money, I was able to take control of my finances and a lot of my debt has been paid off. It took some time and some painful payments, but I went from forking out $350/month in debt repayment to a paltry $70/month. By saving money, I was able to pay off debts and now I have even more money. That’s an extra couple hundred dollars every month and all of a sudden I don’t feel like I’m under the squeeze so bad.

      5. I have become an expert in coupons and sales

      When you’re living below your means, you try to stretch every dollar. Things like $0.20 off coupons become a lot more valuable than they used to. Catching coupons online or in the local newspaper becomes a sort of hobby. Also, I started reading the morning newspaper. I was buying them for the coupons anyway so I might as well get my money’s worth right? Not only have I saved some extra money with coupons, but I’ve also become a lot more intimate with my community happenings. Which brings me to…

      6. I’ve become more active in my community

      live below your means

        Living below your means can get boring. You’re not going out to the bar. You’re not seeing as many movies at the theater. And things like concerts and amusement parks are a no go. However, many communities have plenty of events that are either free or really cheap to get into. In my community there was a community potluck organized and a bunch of people showed up to eat food and clean up the local park. It fills an afternoon, you get to meet people who live nearby, and it costs however much it costs to make a dozen servings of your favorite side dish.

        Advertising

        7. I quit smoking

        Cigarettes are expensive. And bad for you.

        8. My goals have become more clear

        When I was spending money on useless nonsense, my goals were clouded. I knew there were some things I wanted but it always felt like there were other things I had to do first. Yes, I wanted to buy a better car but first I had to take care of this other issue. It was a zigzag labyrinth of self sabotage. Since I’ve begun living below my means, things that aren’t important actually seem unimportant while the important stuff remains important. My focus is trained on what it needs to be trained on.

        9. My apartment has never looked this good

        I’ve been spending a lot more time at home since I started living below my means. What I had before was functional but it wasn’t really enjoyable. I have spent more time keeping my house clean. The furniture all over the house has been reorganized. I have begun having more guests over to hang out rather than going to their place. There’s more pride in what I have instead of feeling the need to constantly augment it with more things that I want.

        10. My friends and family mean more to me

        Living below your means changes how you view things. You stop coveting things so much and you start coveting people more. This may sound bad but friendship is free. Spending time with your friends and family doesn’t cost you anything. You also have the added benefit of strengthening relationships and forging new ones. Some readers may think I’m saying that I didn’t appreciate people before I started living below my means and that’s simply not true. You just become more acutely aware of how much they mean to you.

        Advertising

        There are a lot of things that suck when you live below your means. You don’t get to do what you want to do all the time and you may not get to be a part of the latest trends in fashion, technology, or anything else. However, it is something many of us have to do when faced with financial challenges. If you have to do it, you might as well make the best of it. Here is a great article to help you get started.

        Featured photo credit: DIY Lol via treasure.diylol.com

        More by this author

        10 Benefits of Sleeping Naked You Probably Didn’t Know 12 Inspirational Speeches That Teach You the Most Valuable Life Lessons 15 Most Effective Cool Down Exercises For Every Workout 10 Things Guys Love That You Didn’t Expect 20 Google Search Tips to Use Google More Efficiently

        Trending in Money

        1 How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements? 2 How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money 3 The Definitive Guide to Get Out of Debt Fast (And Forever) 4 35 Real Ways to Actually Make Money Online 5 30 Fun Things To Do With Your Friends Without Spending Much

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising

        Published on November 8, 2018

        How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements?

        How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements?

        After a few months of hard work and dozens of phone calls later, you finally land a job opportunity.

        But then, you’re asked about your salary requirements and your mind goes blank. So, you offer a lower salary believing this will increase your odds at getting hired.

        Unfortunately, this is the wrong approach.

        Your salary requirements can make or break your odds at getting hired. But only if you’re not prepared.

        Ask for a salary too high with no room for negotiation and your potential employer will not be able to afford you. Aim too low and employers will perceive as you offering low value. The trick is to aim as high as possible while keeping both parties feel happy.

        Of course, you can’t command a high price without bringing value.

        The good news is that learning how to be a high-value employee is possible. You have to work on the right tasks to grow in the right areas. Here are a few tactics to negotiate your salary requirements with confidence.

        1. Hack time to accomplish more than most

        Do you want to get paid well for your hard work? Of course you do. I hate to break it to you, but so do most people.

        With so much competition, this won’t be an easy task to achieve. That’s why you need to become a pro at time management.

        Advertising

        Do you know how much free time you have? Not the free time during your lunch break or after you’ve finished working at your day job. Rather, the free time when you’re looking at your phone or watching your favorite TV show.

        Data from 2017 shows that Americans spend roughly 3 hours watching TV. This is time poorly spent if you’re not happy with your current lifestyle. Instead, focus on working on your goals whenever you have free time.

        For example, if your commute to/from work is 1 hour, listen to an educational Podcast. If your lunch break is 30 minutes, read for 10 to 15 minutes. And if you have a busy life with only 30–60 minutes to spare after work, use this time to work on your personal goals.

        Create a morning routine that will set you up for success every day. Start waking up 1 to 2 hours earlier to have more time to work on your most important tasks. Use tools like ATracker to break down which activities you’re spending the most time in.

        It won’t be easy to analyze your entire day, so set boundaries. For example, if you have 4 hours of free time each day, spend at least 2 of these hours working on important tasks.

        2. Set your own boundaries

        Having a successful career isn’t always about the money. According to Gallup, about 70% of employees aren’t satisfied with their current jobs.[1]

        Earning more money isn’t a bad thing, but choosing a higher salary over the traits that are the most important to you is. For example, if you enjoy spending time with your family, reject job offers requiring a lot of travel.

        Here are some important traits to consider:

        • Work and life balance – The last thing you’d want is a job that forces you to work 60+ hours each week. Unless this is the type of environment you’d want. Understand how your potential employer emphasizes work/life balance.
        • Self-development opportunities – Having the option to grow within your company is important. Once you learn how to do your tasks well, you’ll start becoming less engaged. Choose a company that encourages employee growth.
        • Company culture – The stereotypical cubicle job where one feels miserable doesn’t have to be your fate. Not all companies are equal in culture. Take, for example, Google, who invests heavily in keeping their employees happy.[2]

        These are some of the most important traits to look for in a company, but there are others. Make it your mission to rank which traits are important to you. This way you’ll stop applying to the wrong companies and stay focused on what matters to you more.

        Advertising

        3. Continuously invest in yourself

        Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make. Cliche I know, but true nonetheless.

        You’ll grow as a person and gain confidence with the value you’ll be able to bring to others. Investing in yourself doesn’t have to be expensive. For example, you can read books to expand your knowledge in different fields.

        Don’t get stuck into the habit of reading without a purpose. Instead, choose books that will help you expand in a field you’re looking to grow. At the same time, don’t limit yourself to reading books in one subject–create a healthy balance.

        Podcasts are also a great medium to learn new subjects from experts in different fields. The best part is they’re free and you can consume them on your commute to/from work.

        Paid education makes sense if you have little to no debt. If you decide to go back to school, be sure to apply for scholarships and grants to have the least amount of debt. Regardless of which route you take to make it a habit to grow every day.

        It won’t be easy, but this will work to your advantage. Most people won’t spend most of their free time investing in themselves. This will allow you to grow faster than most, and stand out from your competition.

        4. Document the value you bring

        Resumes are a common way companies filter employees through the hiring process. Here’s the big secret: It’s not the only way you can showcase your skills.

        To request for a higher salary than most, you have to do what most are unwilling to do. Since you’re already investing in yourself, make it a habit to showcase your skills online.

        A great way to do this is to create your own website. Pick your first and last name as your domain name. If this domain is already taken, get creative and choose one that makes sense.

        Advertising

        Here are some ideas:

        • joesmith.com
        • joeasmith.com
        • joesmithprojects.com

        Nowadays, building a website is easy. Once you have your website setup, begin producing content. For example, if you a developer you can post the applications you’re building.

        During your interviews, you’ll have an online reference to showcase your accomplishments. You can use your accomplishments to justify your salary requirements. Since most people don’t do this, you’ll have a higher chance of employers accepting your offer

        5. Hide your salary requirements

        Avoid giving you salary requirements early in the interview process.

        But if you get asked early, deflect this question in a non-defensive manner. Explain to the employer that you’d like to understand your role better first. They’ll most likely agree with you; but if they don’t, give them a range.

        The truth is great employers are more concerned about your skills and the value you bring to the company. They understand that a great employee is an investment, able to earn them more than their salary.

        Remember that a job interview isn’t only for the employer, it’s also for you. If the employer is more interested in your salary requirements, this may not be a good sign. Use this question to gauge if the company you’re interviewing is worth working for.

        6. Do just enough research

        Research average salary compensation in your industry, then wing it.

        Use tools like Glassdoor to research the average salary compensation for your industry. Then leverage LinkedIn’s company data that’s provided with its Pro membership. You can view a company’s employee growth and the total number of job openings.

        Advertising

        Use this information to make informed decisions when deciding on your salary requirements. But don’t limit yourself to the average salary range. Companies will usually pay you more for the value you have.

        Big companies will often pay more than smaller ones.[3] Whatever your desired salary amount is, always ask for a higher amount. Employers will often reject your initial offer. In fact, offer a salary range that’ll give you and your employer enough room to negotiate.

        7. Get compensated by your value

        Asking for the salary you deserve is an art. On one end, you have to constantly invest in yourself to offer massive value. But this isn’t enough. You also have to become a great negotiator.

        Imagine requesting a high salary and because you bring a lot of value, employers are willing to pay you this. Wouldn’t this be amazing?

        Most settle for average because they’re not confident with what they have to offer. Most don’t invest in themselves because they’re not dedicated enough. But not you.

        You know you deserve to get paid well, and you’re willing to put in the work. Yet, you won’t sacrifice your most important values over a higher salary.

        The bottom line

        You’ve got what it takes to succeed in your career. Invest in yourself, learn how to negotiate, and do research. The next time you’re asked about your salary requirements, you won’t fumble.

        You’ll showcase your skills with confidence and get the salary you deserve. What’s holding you back now?

        Featured photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator via unsplash.com

        Reference

        Read Next