Live be­low your means.

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The way to avoid debt and save money is fairly straight­for­ward: don’t spend more than you make. This has been termed “the fun­da­men­tal rule of fi­nance,” and it’s the only way that you’ll have suf­fi­cient fi­nances to cover your ex­penses and be able to save.

There are many things that can trip peo­ple up when it comes to liv­ing within their means. Some points to bear in mind are:

* Live fru­gally. Be­ing will­ing to sac­ri­fice today can re­sult in ben­e­fits to­mor­row. * Know the dif­fer­ence be­tween

lux­u­ries and ne­ces­si­ties. Needs and wants are two dif­fer­ent things, and most suc­cess­ful savers limit pur­chases that fall into the “want” cat­e­gory. They choose to save and build to­ward long-term fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity over hav­ing tem­po­ral wants, nice-to-haves, and lux­u­ries. * Con­sider your habits and rou­tines. Many peo­ple have one

or more costly habits. It might be a daily latte, a fond­ness for new shoes, or meals out. An­a­lyze all of your habits and rou­tines to see where you can cut back in or­der to stay within your means or free up money to­ward sav­ings.

* Avoid im­pulse buy­ing. When a po­ten­tial un­planned pur­chase comes up, wait a few days to think about whether you re­ally need the item or not. A good friend of mine has what he calls the “three-day rule.” For any ma­jor pur­chases, he waits three days be­fore mak­ing his de­ci­sion. That gives time to let his emo­tions sub­side and rea­son to come into play so he can be sure the pur­chase is the best op­tion.

* Derive your joy and con­tent­ment from God and re­la­tion­ships, not from things. It’s hu­man na­ture to want the lat­est and great­est new things, but as the Bea­tles sang, “Money can’t buy me love.” Nor can money buy health, peace, friend­ship, or con­tent­ment.

* Pay with cash or debit. Re­search has shown that it’s eas­ier for peo­ple to spend when mak­ing pur­chases on credit. Peo­ple think twice when they’re hand­ing over ac­tual cash, so if you’re try­ing to tighten up fi­nan­cially, con­sider us­ing cash. * Vi­su­al­ize reach­ing your goals. If you’re work­ing to­ward build­ing an emer­gency fund, sav­ing for a spe­cific need, or even sav­ing to­ward some­thing spe­cial, each time you’re faced with a pos­si­ble pur­chase or fi­nan­cial de­ci­sion, keep your fi­nan­cial goal in mind. If your pur­chase isn’t go­ing to help you to reach your goal, ask your­self if you can do with­out the pur­chase. * En­joy the sim­ple, free things

in life. There are so many things to en­joy that don’t cost money. Ex­plore and en­joy the sim­ple things, and see how mean­ing­ful and en­rich­ing some of these “price­less” ac­tiv­i­ties or shared mo­ments can be.

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