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How to Live Within Your Means

March 13, 2019 | Our Members. Share this article: ShareHow to Live Within Your Means on Facebook Share How to Live Within Your Means on Twitter


In the age of plastic spending and mobile payments, it’s easier than ever to buy stuff you can’t pay for right away while supporting a lifestyle you can’t really afford.

Let’s take a look at seven red flags that might mean you’re living beyond your means and the steps you can take to get back on track.

You’re carrying a credit card balance from month-to-month
If you have a high credit card balance and you’re paying just the minimum each month, you can end up carrying this balance for years while paying a lot in interest. You might also be tempted to make more purchases on this card since it already has a balance.

The fix:
Try to make double payments and stop using the card until the debt is paid off.

You stress about bills
Monthly bills should be fixed into your budget. You should be able to pay them easily without any stress.

The fix:
Take a look at your monthly budget and find ways to cut back.

You can’t save 5% of your monthly income
If you can’t put away at least 5% of your monthly income into savings, you’re living beyond your means.

The fix:
Again, trim your expenses and restructure your budget to include at least 5% for savings.

You don’t have emergency and rainy-day funds
Ideally, you should have an emergency fund to cover major unexpected expenses, and a rainy-day fund for small expenses you can anticipate.

The fix:
Start building your funds now by putting away as much as you possibly can each month.

Your mortgage payment eats up more than 30% of your monthly income
Most financial experts agree that your monthly mortgage payment should not exceed 30% of your take-home pay.

The fix:
You have two choices here:

  1. Find ways to boost income. Seek a raise at your current job, freelance for hire or find another side hustle for extra cash.
  2. Scale back your mortgage payments. Consider a refinance. Speak to a Mortgage Officer at COPFCU to see if this is right for you. If your mortgage is crippling your budget, consider downsizing to a smaller and cheaper place.

You lease a car you can’t afford to buy or finance
Can you afford to pay for or finance your car? If the answer is no, you’re in financial trouble.

The fix:
Downgrade your vehicle to one you can actually afford.

Your financial decisions are influenced by your friends’ spending habits
Thanks to the hyper-sharing culture of social media, the pressure to keep up with the Joneses is stronger than ever. If you find yourself making financial decisions based on your friends’ choices, you’re likely spending more than you can afford.

The fix:
Stop looking over your shoulder and keep your eyes on your own life and your own wallet.

If you’re in over your head, we can help! Call or visit a branch today to speak with a credit union Representative to help you find the best option for get your finances back on track.

A credit Union for the Public Sector - serving our members competitive rates since 1935.