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Harris-Courage & Grady, PLLC Aug. 25, 2016

Juggling too many debts is a sure way to keep yourself awake at night. Living within your means—spending less money than you earn—will eliminate this stress from your life. Here are 10 easy methods to help you live within your means.

  1. Make a Budget. Figure out how much you earn, and how much you spend every month. Try one of these apps to make it easier to track your expenses. Until you keep track of what you earn and what you spend, it will be extremely difficult for you to live within your income.

  2. Eliminate Debt. If you have a small amount of debt, make a plan to repay it. If you have overwhelming debt, give our office a call. We’d be glad to help you make a plan. Filing bankruptcy is the fastest way to get out of debt.

  3. Start Saving. Take something out of every paycheck, even if it’s small, and start an emergency savings fund. Set up an automatic withdrawal from your bank account to make it easy. An emergency savings fund will allow you to handle any unexpected expenses without taking on new debt.

  4. Earn More. You can ask for a raise at work, or use your free time to develop a new hobby that produces income. There are limitless ways to earn more money. All it takes is creativity and determination to succeed.

  5. Use Credit Wisely. Treat your credit card like a debit card. Don’t spend buy anything on credit that you couldn’t buy with cash, and pay off your balance every month. If this is hard for you, try taking your credit cards out of your wallet until you’ve paid off all your credit card debt. Not using a credit card while you pay off your debt will help you get used to not buying things you can’t afford.

  6. Cook for Yourself. Restaurant food is extremely expensive. Cooking for yourself can save you a lot of money. If you don’t know how to cook, there are hundreds of videos on Youtube that can teach you how to make anything you’d like to eat. Pack your lunch at least once a week. Eat dinner at home. Even if you go out for dessert, you’ll still see the savings add up.

  7. Go for Cheap Entertainment. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a good time. Use your creativity and keep an eye out for free events—they happen more often than you might realize.

  8. Shop Around. Before you spend your money, do your research. Check multiple places to make sure you get the best deal. Don’t forget to check out used items.

  9. Stay Flexible. Life often brings us the unexpected. Leave a little wiggle room in your budget to provide for expenses you didn’t plan for. If your budget gets totally derailed one month by something you didn’t expect, don’t stress. Recommit and try again the next month.

  10. One Thing at a Time. Don’t try to change all your financial habits at once. If you do, you’re likely to get frustrated and give up. Choose one new habit to work on, and when you’ve got it down, choose another.

You can live within your income, and you’ll sleep better when you do. Use these strategies, and if you make a mistake, try again. You’ll find that living within your income is so much better than carrying around lots of debt.