You know, I thought I wrote about this somewhere, either here or facebook, but I can't find it anywhere... Oh well... here it goes.
Most of you have heard that phrase/term... living beyond you means.
In case anyone hasn't heard of this before, it simply means living a lifestyle that you cannot afford. MANY people do this in one way or another. Some people even have different ideas as to what it means. Some that might frown upon someone eating a cheeseburger from mcdonalds when that person is on foodstamps, they themselves likely live beyond their own means in one way or another. Taking out a loan, for anything, technically could be viewed as living beyond one's means. With some things in life, houses, cars, college, taking out a loan is often unavoidable. But there are MANY MANY ways in which everyone could do better to live within their means.
Before I go further I will note that I am NOT perfect, ever, and there are going to be times when I buy frivolous things. What is important is that I don't purchase things that I cannot pay for.
I've met a lot of people that say they cut corners and some that say they've cut everything they can. I've observed how they live and I can assure you, they haven't cut much. If you go out to eat regularly, go to the movies, etc, you're not really trying as hard as you can. This is for people that are having trouble with money already, not for those that CAN afford to spend on what they want.
I've seen people complain about not being able to pay a bill, and then post pictures of them out to eat somewhere. When money is tight, you need to tighten the belt, on everything. Hobbies, fun activities, whatever it may be. It is just dangerous to take risks with money.
I am going to mention right now that this is on my mind because of something I came across on facebook today. I am part of a group on facebook, for our local town, for people to "pay it forward". It is a wonderful group and I have seen a LOT of people give and a lot of needs met. It's been touching to watch all that goes on there.
Well today someone joined the group and then asked for $200 to help payoff a birthday party that is coming up, for her 4 year old. I asked, a birthday party for a 4 year old costs $200? They said that it was at the local pool and was cheaper than chuck e cheese or some other places. I kind of held my tongue because I REALLY wanted to say something to them but I knew someone else would deal with it and likely much better than I. Sure enough, someone VERY politely suggested trying to do something at home or at a park instead... and not spend money they didn't even have yet. Well, the person who was asking for money got VERY offended, suggested people don't tell her what to do for her children, said it was too hot to have something at the park(which, could be true), etc. They were NOT happy and just wanted $200 for a party.
Perhaps it's because I grew up more or less in poverty, and because even now as an adult money is tight, but I have not been to such parties often... and I am fairly certain my mom never took us anywhere like that for our own... ALL of my birthday parties were at my own house and you know, they were in the heat of summer... and.... I had a LOT of fun. I realize that some people really want to spoil their kids and have this idea in their heads that certain things are needed or expected, or whatever... but, seriously... if having a party means putting yourself in debt or borrowing money, then it IS living beyond your means. You cannot afford it... and when you cannot afford something, you do without. The child will NOT mind... especially at 4 years old.
It's a tough thing for people to grasp sometimes and it is easy to see why. We live in a country(at least, I do) where people are told day in and day out that we should get EVERYTHING we want, when we want it, and how we want it. We have been taught, somehow, that that is the American dream. To have everything. It's pretty sick actually but, it is what people see everywhere they go. (despite what most people think, the TV DOES brainwash people, but that's another story)
Anyway... I feel a little bad bringing up someone that was, in her mind, simply looking for help today. It was difficult for me to not say anything further when it came up. This is how I was raised.
Now, in case anyone is like me and thinks this person should not have been asking and was definitely living beyond their means... my note here isn't for her as I don't know if she'll ever see it and I am certain if she did, she'd simply be offended and storm off. No, this note is for everyone else. Oh, you're not doing anything like that?
Well... perhaps many of you aren't... but a fair amount of you do in some ways spend money in places that you, perhaps, shouldn't. I don't want anyone to get upset with me here. I'm not TELLING anyone how to live. But, I like to offer advice where I can in the hopes that it might save people a little trouble.
Oh my thoughts are a little jumbled right now... but I've been meaning to bring up weddings. That is one BIG place where a LOT of people live beyond their means. A lot of couples start out their new life together in debt. People feel they need a storybook wedding with everything perfect... and will go into debt just to make that happen. This is very much living beyond your means... and I don't want to be harsh but, it's a bit foolish. Or perhaps dangerous is a better word. Nobody knows what the future holds... if you can't afford to pay for something now, there is NO guarantee that you'll be able to 3 months from now, or whatever kind of date you might have in mind. You have no idea what kind of curve-balls life will throw at you.
Spending money on unneeded things when you're already in debt is just a bad idea, and a lot of people do it. Hey, our own government does that. It has to stop. We can't control what the government does(there's something wrong with that picture) but we do have control over our own lives and finances.
So, I think my thoughts are all over the place but, here's some more... some more practical thoughts...
My mother taught me a bit about saving money and about being resourceful and such. As I said, we grew up poor. We were taught(or, ordered ) to take short showers. We had a shower head that could be turned on and off so while you were lathering up, the water wasn't just running down the drain. This helped with the water bill AND the electric bill. There are environmental reasons to be frugal in such ways as well but we'll just stick with financial for now.
Turning off lights when not in use... not leaving the water running... etc. ALL of that adds up to saving you money.
I've been married for about 12 years now and money has always been tight. During these past 12 years I've gone to the movie theater not more than 2 or 3 times. We don't rent movies, wait for them to show up on tv or borrow from the library. We have never had cable(did for a short while as a kid, but not once I was out on my own). We rarely go out to eat. We don't buy TOP brand clothing... There's just a LOT of ways in which we've not thrown money around... things that are every day, everyone has to have, for most people. I don't own a cell phone, don't want one... my wife has a pay as you go... but I see all these ones on tv... you HAVE to have the latest and greatest... even our last pastor said he got caught up in needing the newest stuff... And they advertise "ONLY $60" or some other ridiculous amount a month. How is $60 considered "only"? We can't afford that sort of living, so we don't do it.
Living this way has helped us to early on in our marriage get our own place. We had to settle for a "manufactured" double wide... on 5 acres... The house we got is smaller than we'd like... but, we're not renting... We've been able to keep up with our bills, etc... We've been able to get by on a budget that many people would seriously struggle with. And it's largely because we don't spend money we don't have. Going out to eat IS too expensive... so, we don't do it(or, not often). I sure couldn't put down $200 for a birthday party that would soon be forgotten. Not because I don't care about my kids... not because I don't think a pool party wouldn't be fun... but because we can't afford it. Actually, we COULD technically do that without going into debt but in our financial situation, it's not a wise investment. So, we do without some things. Our kids still have LOTS of fun. We don't "miss out". Our kids aren't going to suffer. We're just living within our means, the best we can.
Anyway... It was just troublesome to see someone asking for that much money for a party. A party.....
That's not quite my idea of paying it forward... by definition, paying it forward could mean anything, including giving someone money for a kid's party... but, it's not about asking for money for things that are not needed. That's definitely not the point of groups like that anyway.
I hope that family can find a way to have that party without having to borrow money from a stranger. I feel a little bad, like I've used that as an example too much... The fact is, there's a lot of people that do things like that.
Living within your means doesn't have to mean you do without and lack anything. It just means being smart with your money and avoiding debt AT ALL COSTS. Still plenty of fun things you can do.
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