It’s no huge secret that most Americans live at the edge of their income. Then they need bigger salaries to bail them out of debt. A word to the wise: the problem isn’t your salary, it’s your lifestyle. You’re living beyond your means—we, as country, have been living beyond our means for a while. What better time to change the way we approach things than 2012, the year of transformative change? There’s a time when complexity is understandable and necessary — things like the need for medical billing and coding for our crazy health care system, the use of administrative and contact databases, and consolidating loans for those who have too much debt from being a student, buying a house, etc. These things warrant sophistication, professional discernment, and technological innovation. Other aspects of our life call for simplicity and level-headedness:
Revamp your home to be energy efficient. Doubling down on your home infrastructure is good way to simplify your utility bills and live in harmony with the Earth. Start by making your home energy efficient: insulate your walls and attic; upgrade windows; replace your furnace and light bulbs; use solar panels and roofing. Mother Nature will thank you later, and so will your budget.
Reduce gadget expenditures. Every year, the wizards in the entertainment and tech industries release a fresh slate of new tools and gadgets but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to acquire each and every upgrade or new toy. Most of the devices are fun but unnecessary to your bottom line. Don’t let technology trick you into thinking that an unneeded recreational purchase is actually a business expense. Also, remember to recycle old gadgets. A great weekend project is to go into your garage and make a pile of old electronic gear that can be reappropriated or recycled.
Revise your budget to exclude eating out. You never really figured that into your budget in the first place, so it won’t be difficult to take out. Unless it’s for business (in which case it can be written off, or otherwise paid for) eating out really gets out of hand. Especially when drinks are thrown in, a bite to eat can easily turn into a $100 bill. Wouldn’t that money be better invested in your kids’ college fund? (Guilt sets in!)
These methods alone will not completely save you from an over-indulgent lifestyle. But it’s a good start. Many people who have debt problems fail to see the bigger picture, that if they live at the edge of your income they’ll never be able to balance their budgets. Taking practical steps to simplifying your life, reducing expenditures and making your home energy efficient will help you to save money and tweak your lifestyle in positive ways.