Live (and Save) like Tomorrow’s Today

When we had less than we do now, financially speaking, my husband made the observation that – simply put – it’s expensive to not have money. And even now with both of us out of college for many years, he employed full-time out of the home and I self-employed, he still makes that comment from time to time. And how true it is because when you don’t have money, you’re far more likely to accumulate late fees, higher interest rates and succumb to what may simply be more convenient or readily available rather than being able to make long term plans.

Empty pocket

The more experience I gain (read “the older I become”), though, the more I find it’s not about how much money you have or can expect to have, rather how well you allocate, plan for and manage what you do have. Like everything else in life, there’s been a predictable amount of highs and lows when it has come to our household income. What hasn’t changed, though, is just how well a number of tactics have helped carry us through the toughest of times. Time and time again, I’ve found the key has been living and saving like tomorrow’s today or – at the very least – just around the corner because it always seems to get here faster than one would think. The following are some concrete tips, tricks and strategies that have helped us and may help you, too, when it comes to making tomorrow’s mountains out of today’s molehills.

If you know you’ll need it, pick it up when it’s at a discount and stash it for later. From holiday and birthday gifts to the next few sizes up in children’s clothing to your family’s favorite pantry staples, there are a number of things in life you just know you’ll need. If you can anticipate it, use that to your advantage by giving yourself even more time to search for great deals. By being proactive and refusing to let things needlessly sneak up on you, you’ll not only lessen the impact on your budget, but you’ll experience far less stress, too. While I’ve likely saved a lot of gas that otherwise would’ve been wasted on last minute runs to the grocery store, for example, the personal energy and time I’ve saved is priceless.

Live lean even when you’re well in the black. While it may be tempting (and admittedly fun) to spend money as it comes in, it’s far better to live not only well-within your means, but well under it. Figure out what your family’s needs are and how they can be adequately met and strike a balance with the rest of your spending so that your quality and ease of life can remain relatively constant regardless of how plentiful the cash flow actual is. This goes beyond simply saving for a rainy day. It’s about making lifestyle changes that ensure quality of life isn’t chained to the number in your checkbook. Regardless of income levels that can fluctuate, commit to healthier and more economical at-home cuisine. Enjoy entertainment that can be had at your own castle (a.k.a. “home”). And resist the siren song to constantly trade up. It’s expensive, addictive and – in many cases – bad for the environment, too.

Remind yourself constantly that life is for living, not working. If you’re busy spending money, you’re likely too busy working to afford it. This cheats you out of time for more important things like spending time with family and friends, relishing a hobby or even just relaxing. Make a mental point to (often) remind yourself that money isn’t everything, but enjoying life is. The latter is not a given, it’s a choice that’s practiced daily – including through our spending habits!

Photo credit: sam4605

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Author Info

This post was written by Shannon M. Medisky. Shannon is an educator turned parent turned writer and focuses on sharing new and innovative ways to not just survive, but thrive on empty. Visit ThrivingOnEmpty.com to learn more. Her newest book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stretching Your Dollar is available in bookstores now.

3 Responses to “Live (and Save) like Tomorrow’s Today”

  1. Briana @ GBR |  Nov 23, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    These were fantastic points Shannon. It’s so important to live BENEATH your means. Yes, it’s definitely hard to resist the urge to buy something you want rather than need when you have extra money, but when an emergency comes up and you didn’t save that extra money, you end up having buyers remorse.

  2. Ken - Cambio de Cheques |  Nov 25, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Good writting Shannon!
    But I want to share that no one got rich simply by knowing how to save.
    The most important part is knowing how to invest with agility and cunning to avoid the risk.
    Greetings.

    Ken Ziller