How much you make matters LESS than how you choose to spend what you make. A kid with no expenses and $250 per month from a part-time job is having more fun than many of you who make thousands per month. Quality of life is all about experiences and less about stuff. Let’s talk lifestyle upgrades!
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Breadwinners. 7 Ways To More Lifestyle Upgrades from Your Current Income
Making what you earn go further is not an easy task, but if you are determined to enjoy some of life’s finer options, then you may want to listen up.
There are strategies to stretch your disposable income to cover more of the perks of life. This show looks at my favorites.
No debt management talk today. We are focusing on your disposable income.
We SHOULD work to live, NOT work to live. Our income should finance our life, not our debt. Let’s enjoy more from life with our current income. This may require some different thinking. You game?
I must start out by placing this topic in context of the overall financial strategy. If your goal is to enjoy life the debt free wealth way, then you will be reluctant to swipe your credit card and pay later for stuff and for fun. Unless you are just starting your financial journey, chances are, you will have to take these concepts I share today and look at your spending plan to make some adjustments.
On the journey to becoming debt free, many have turned to a life of depravity – living a joyless life devoid of fun, vacations, and the nicer things in life.
Some people swap extremes; going from wanton wastefulness, to Scrooge-ish scarcity. Neither mindsets are healthy!
For those of you who are Christians, the Bible encourages us to pursue the best things in life
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (NLT)
So having worked, and worked hard – how painful it is to turn around and hand that money to your slave masters? Who are those master? Mastercard, Vice Grip Visa, the furniture store, the car note and others have first place in line to take their share; and what is left for you to enjoy? This is why debt free wealth radio exists. To help you design a life where you your income finances your life and not your debt. It is less about how much you make and more about how much you keep.
It’s less about how much income, and more about how you spend it
This is not a debt management post, but again, to create a context for today’s content, I want to remind you that the high school graduate who just landed a job earning $1500 per month, still lives at home with their parents and has maybe just a cell phone bill to pay is enjoying way more life and fun than the adult earning $5000 a month and paying rent, a car note, utilities, day care, and more. It is less about how much you make and more about how much you keep – so please go back through the debt free wealth radio archives, and listen to upcoming shows as we address strategies for ensuring you keep more of your income. Or you can sign up for Debt Free Wealth Academy and learn how there.
Today, we are going to talk about the disposable income, or that part of your income that your spending plan has identified as going toward your lifestyle. The portion of your income you would have spent on grocery shopping, clothing, entertainment, travel, and the things you want – the things you were going to buy anyway – and hopefully, not on debt.
There is a way to spend that money so that you maximize your quality of life experiences. Here are 7 of my favorite strategies:
- Love it or leave it
- Built to last
- Time it
- Stock Options
- Knock off
- cheap cheap
- Get your groupon
- Love it or leave it – aka, buy what matters
The things that matter in life most are experiences – not stuff. It is not the stuff you really want, it is what the stuff does for you – and that is why my friends, it is less about how much you make and more about the experiences you create. Clutter is a good indication that you have too much stuff that you do not need – which means you have spent too much money on things you don’t need, really want, or have space for. That pair of shoes you had to have and worn once and now hate. That magazine you haven’t read and now is stale news. That extra bag of chips that not only added fat to your thighs, and plaque to your arteries, added also dollars to your bill that you could have done without.
Starter homes are great, but how many people you know that got a starter home and thought they would move to a bigger or nicer home later are still in their starter home, cramped and hating it?
Sometimes, it is better to rent and save to buy a home that had room for expansion, so if you ended up staying there for 20 or more years, you would be quite happy. If you don’t love it – do not spend your hard earned money to get it. “When you accept LESS than you want from life, you end up with less that you want IN life.”
You see, on a daily basis we are spending money on things we neither need, want or love. That my friends, is wasted money. Spending an extra 0.50 cents here, $20 there, is un-noticeable at the moment, but they add up. I remember going to the supermarket for a quick run to pick up some missing things for a meal I was preparing. The biggest single item cost $27 but my bill was $85. My brain went crazy when I saw the cash register waiting for my $85 when I left my house knowing I would spend about $30. The thing is, while there, I picked up some snacks for the kids, and some other things that caught my eye that each cost $3 or less, but there was a bunch of them. My brain was not doing the math on the little items considering them tiny purchases, but all together, $85 later, I looked at the items I picked up and left half of them behind. None of it was necessary, and all of it was stealing from my spending plan for other things that mattered more.
If there is something you want to buy, you would be surprised how waiting 30 minutes before buying it creates a total re-evaluation of that purchase. If you do not love it – leave it.
- Built to last – aka, Buy on value v. price
I paid about $150 for ay Ann Taylor shoe almost 15 years old and it is a timeless classic. It still looks fabulous today and I look fabulous wearing it. I have bought and trashed many walmart and payless shoe source shoes in that time, and I promise you, as affordable as each one was, all together I have spent more than $150 on those. There are certain thing that it is worth buying the well built, more expensive, brand name classic. Every man and woman needs at least one good suit – get a good one that fits you well. A suit is versatile and a well made suit with a lining, well sewn buttons and so on, that you dry clean will look good on you and help you make a statement, every time you wear it. Tools that you use often also are worth getting the best version of, even if it means paying a few extra dollars for it.
- Time it – aka, wait
Time it is a huge strategy. As I said earlier in the show, you would be surprised how waiting 30 minutes before buying creates a total re-evaluation of the purchase. Waiting to buy is a fabulous strategy. Gosh, sometimes even waiting 5 minutes will have you re-thinking the value of a thing. I love to watch people and I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people pick up an item in a store, and 3 isles later, they have dumped it on a random shelf.
Waiting could help when it comes to seasons. If you purchase fruit off season, it costs you way more than the same fruit does, in season. Very often, when you purchase something in a certain season you get more benefit for doing so as well. Right around summer and shortly after, the new cars for the upcoming year will begin to show up on car lots. Those of you who waited to buy your new car can get the current year model at a huge saving.
Waiting can also be a strategy to help you save the money you need over time. Credit cards offer the tantalizing instant gratification, but waiting and saving, and savoring the day when you will be able to afford the thing without debt – is a fabulous strategy for enjoying that lifestyle upgrade, that fabulous thing, without debt.
- Stock Options – aka, sourcing alternatives
The thing you want has an acquisition option. There is always an option. In the case of the car example, if you want a Mercedes – do you know that one of the best benefits of owning a Mercedes is they usually keep the car body style for about 10 years. So, except for minor features, it is difficult to tell what year Mercedes Benz you are seeing on the road. This is another example of a timeless classic. So if you want a Mercedes, you may consider the option of getting a gently used, certified pre-owned car.
If the think you want, is pricey and out of your immediate budget, is there an option to rent it. For example, maybe you don’t buy the Mercedes, but on those occasions you need to rent a car, you spend the extra dollars and rent a Mercedes for the weekend.
There are consignment shops that focus on gently used high-end products and if you avoid the trendy things that are dated, and go for the timeless classics, again, you can enjoy a fabulous coach or Michael Khors purse without the brand new sticker price.
Years ago, when I worked at Air Jamaica, I helped facilitate many trade transactions. For example, we traded air tickets for other vendor services. No, or very little cash was exchanged, even though there was a balance sheet cancellation. So if the product or service we needed would have cost $5000, we gave the vendor $5000 in airline tickets. Although on paper it showed $5000 in airline tickets going out, it did not cost the airline $5000 to give those tickets away. Is there something you can trade? I know of travel writers who enjoy fabulous free vacations because the resort wants free publicity from their blog or magazine.
The person who has a job at a high end country and gets a free membership for themselves and their families has accessed a high end experience without paying for it. I had a friend who wanted private schooling for her child but could not afford it. Knowing that was her goal, she applied for jobs at the schools she wanted her child to attend. She took home almost zero dollars of her paycheck, but the fact that she worked at the school got her the discount so that her income paid for the child’s private school fees.
So the stock option strategy is basically a way to get the item you want through an alternative option to buying new. Buying gently used, renting, trading, and so on.
- Knock off – aka, Get the knock off
Sometimes the knock off is perfect for the occasion. Where would some of us ladies be if not for the costume jewelry industry? We love pretty, shiny things and many of the costume jewelry items are look a-likes inspired by their high end original.
In some cases, this is a perfect option for many situations. When the goal is function and you can leave your ego behind because you do not need brand association, you can find really good deals out there. Magazines use many pages to show us how to achieve a more affordable version of a celebrity look. I have seen knock offs of a Dolce and Gabana dress that look stunning without the sticker shock.
Depending on the circles you run with, this is not always a good option, but if you mix in the real and the knock offs, you can pull of a great look and control your budget.
- cheap cheap – aka, go cheap on the other stuff
There are times when cheap is the way to go. I have a friend who works at a fish packaging plant. She told me that plant packs for several brands. In other words, same fish initially packaged in a clear plastic wrap, then put in a bag with the appropriate branding. So the same fish is packed with 4 or 5 different labels and sold to you in different stores for different prices. We see this all the time, where the same brand may even show up in different stores for different prices. A McDonald’s burger on the corner costs less than a McDonald’s burger at the airport.
There are certain things that you can buy on price. Eggs at Publix Supermarket cost more than eggs at Save-a-lot supermarket, but eggs are eggs.
I served a generic brand cola at a party, and that was sold in a 2 liter bottle for less than the price of a 1 liter bottle of coca cola. No one was the wiser – and to feed the many people, I needed the more budget friendly option.
I go cheap on certain things so I can save up and buy the things that matter where price is not the deciding factor. I would rather turn off the AC during the spring and open the windows and save on my utility bill so that I can add more money to my vacation. Going cheap on certain stuff allows you to keep your money toward the more pricey things that matter.
When it comes to vacations, sometimes you can go cheap on the hotel if you want to go to an expensive location, and go expensive on the hotel, if you are in a cheap location. So, if you are doing business or vacationing in a poor country, get a great hotel because everything else, like food and trinkets are likely to be cheap. But if your goal is to enjoy the ski lifts and fancy dinners, then go cheap on the accommodations so you can enjoy the experiences.
- Get your Groupon – coupons, groupon
I am not much of a coupon cutter, but these days extreme couponing is now a professional sport. I have a friend that is changing my view on coupon cutting, and I am working with her to offer a course soon to those that are interested. Never the less, you know the things you buy and buy often, if there is a coupon that will save you some money, or allow you to buy one get one free – then by all means, clip those. Some companies even offer coupons on their website so it pays to deliberately look for coupons on the pricier things you want. Groupon is now well established as one way to get that product or service you want at a discount and there are many shopping clubs popping up that do the same thing. For example, I try to avoid spending my money on things that deteriorate or depreciate when possible, so I buy gold and silver as one way to preserve my wealth. Now, if I did that through retail I would buy much less than I am able to buy through the wealth club I am a part of where I buy my bullion and collectible gold and silver and pay pennies over the market spot price. If you want information about this club, I added it here in the show description.
I just caution those who buy stuff just because they have a coupon, and it is not something you would have bought normally. You do not need to buy that jar of pickles if no one in your house likes pickles, just because you found a coupon for a great deal on pickles.
The amount of income is not what determines your lifestyle
So, you do not have to wait to enjoy lifestyle upgrades. You do not need to wait for a pay increase, or for when you are debt free. If you implement these strategies into your spending plan, you can begin to enjoy lifestyle upgrades right now.