Friday, June 21, 2013

Living like You Didn't Just Win the Lottery

Sound easy to do? It's not. History is filled with stories of real down and outers who suddenly won their ticket to freedom and found themselves on skid row a number of years later. The same holds true for us as our income levels increase and opportunities for fun in the sun can actually become dreams come true. I have come up with a number of tips that will help you hang on to what you have and build for the future by avoiding what is referred to as lifestyle inflation.

Back to the Beginning

Remember when you first started out in your first apartment with the job you snagged straight out of college? We were all so careful with every expenditure back then, but we made it work. Our beginning salaries miraculously covered our living expenses. Maybe not much more, but we were satisfied. Ok, then we started up the corporate ladder and increased our wages big-time. Did we stay in our same cramped apartment that we were so happy with the year before? No. Bigger salary, bigger apartment. Housing is one of the largest monthly expenses. Not only the size of the apartment, but the furnishings, utilities and taxes that go along with a larger abode. If you can resist (or postpone) the urge to upgrade your living quarters, you can save a bundle.

Transportation Costs

Ok, so you've hooked a great job but you don't want to be seen driving the '75 Volkswagen that got you through your university years. You want to upgrade according to your job position. It's understandable that when you pull into the company parking lot that you need to drive a vehicle that represents your company well.  But go easy. Don't try to impress by something you can't afford.  Try a good-looking pre-owned car that fits easily into your budget.

Learn to Cook and Hang on to your Health

Now that you have more money you can afford to eat out every night. But should you? Is restaurant fare or take-away the natural way to save money and maintain your health? A much better solution would be to invest in a few simple cooking lessons that would give you the opportunity to make quick but healthy meals at home. You would not only hang on to your well-earned salary, but maintain a healthier diet as well.

Set up a Savings Plan

It's easy to spend every single dollar that hits our bank accounts. There is always something we need or something we could use. But believe me, there is nothing we need more than a savings account. How to do it? The only way I've found that is successful is by making a forced, or preset payment into a retirement fund or some sort of a savings plan every month.  It's like taking a small cut in your salary, but the long-term dividends are well worth it.

Preparing for Tomorrow

All that said, use the resources available to you today to make the most out of life. Drive a great car, eat well and enjoy life. Isn't that what it's all about?  Save for tomorrow and you can enjoy life well into the decades to come.