Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
3 minutes reading time (618 words)

Can You Afford Your Lifestyle?

Once upon a time, before reality television, before the internet, before we had an intimate look into the lives of the rich and the famous (and the aspiring-to-be rich and famous), there was a such thing as “keeping up with Joneses.” The Joneses were the rich nextdoor neighbors who seemed to set the bar for the standard of living.

Now, the bar has been raised so much higher because we’re not only trying to keep up with the people around us, but also with people we see on television or read about in celebrity magazines or blogs. As you spend more, to keep up with appearances, or just to make yourself happy, you have to ask yourself whether you can really afford your lifestyle.

Are you planning and tracking your spending? Without a plan for your spending, you very well could be living a lifestyle you can’t really afford. After all, you’re not giving your spending choices much prior thought and you’re not checking back to confirm that you spent what you planned. To determine whether you can afford your lifestyle, write down a list of your monthly spending, don’t leave anything out, and compare it to your monthly income. If you’re spending more than you bring in, you can’t afford the way you’re currently living.

Do you skip bills and still end up with no money at the end of the month? Not does skipping bills lead to late fees, you could also damage your credit if you fall too far behind on your payments. Some companies will disconnect your services and charge a reconnect fee when you’re ready to get caught up again. If you’re skipping bills and still don’t have any money leftover, there’s something wrong in your spending decisions. Either you’re not bringing in enough money or you’re spending money in the wrong places. Tracking your spending can help you pinpoint the problem.

Do you spend money because your peers do even though your income doesn’t match theirs? Keeping up with appearances is dangerous for your financial health. If your friends’ incomes are higher than yours, you shouldn’t feel pressured to spend what they spend. You have to question whether they’re really your friends if they’re making you feel like you have to keep up, especially if they know you don’t make the money they do. It’s up to you to spend within your means. Seek out another group of friends, whose spending patterns match what you’re able to do, or start suggesting some cheaper social activities.

Do you spend money to impress people, even though you know you can’t afford it? You may spend money to give people a certain impression of you. For example, you may want your parents to think you’re better off than you are, so you buy them fancy gifts. Or, there’s a girl you really want to impress, so you take her to nice dinners. Guys aren’t the only ones who go out of their way to impress the opposite sex. Ladies often buy the expensive dress, shoes, or jewelry to impress the guy they’re dating, or sometimes even their girlfriends.

Living a lifestyle you can’t afford may work temporarily. For awhile, you can use your credit cards, dip into any savings you may have, borrow from friends and relatives, or skip out on some bills. It will catch up with you, if you don’t get it under control. When you do face the reality of the situation, you may be crushed with debt and financially stranded with no savings. It’s not hopeless, if you’re already in debt. Changing your lifestyle and spending now will help you turn the situation around and become debt free that much sooner.
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Tuesday, 20 August 2019

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