This blog contains some simple tips and advice from two regular guys. We're not accountants, financial advisors, or brokers, so follow, ignore, or discuss our ideas as you see fit.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Two True Stories Of Living Beyond Your Means

Posted By Paul

I had a friend who was living with his parents and was planning on moving into his first apartment. This friend was a few years younger than me and he had a decent job that certainly earned him enough money to live on his own.

He had done some apartment hunting and found a great place that he really liked. He started telling me about it. He described how each apartment unit had marble countertops and its own security system.

As my friend described all of the cool features of this aparment I started to notice that it sounded considerably nicer than MY first apartment. In fact it sounded considerably nicer than the apartment I had at the time. Out of concern I asked my friend what the rent was.

He told me the price (which was twice what I was paying for rent at the time), and I couldn't hide my gasp of shock at the rent he quoted, so he explained his plan.

His plan was to continue to live at home for about six months and save up a lot of money so that he had a year's worth of rent saved up in the bank and then he'd get the apartment.

This totally blew my mind. I explained how this made very little sense, as all it did was provide a way for my friend to temporarily live beyond his means.

He ended up getting the apartment, stayed there for almost a year, and then had to move because the rent was becoming far too much of a burden. He found a new place, but it was a difficult process because every apartment he looked that was in his price range looked so shabby compared to his super cool, super expensive place.

I had another friend who experienced a similar situation from a different source. When he first started living on his own he didn't make much money (as most of us don't at that time in our lives), so his parents sent him about $500 a month to help with expenses. The problem? After 5 years he was much further along in his career and was making a much better salary but he was still dependent on that $500 a month. When he got a raise instead of maintaining the same frugal lifestyle and weaning himself off of the money from his parents, he would use the money from the raise to get a slightly better car/apartment or whatever.

In essence his parents were letting him get used to always living $500 a month beyond his means. When that money finally ended it was REALLY difficult to do without it even though he was making a perfectly decent salary at the time. After all, who couldn't find use for an extra $500 each month?

So the lesson from all of this is to ALWAYS live within your means. Living beyond your means not only creates a financially unstable situation but it makes it so much harder to actually go back to a "normal" lifestyle once you've gotten used to the one that you can't afford.

Once you get used to that $2000 a month apartment that you can't afford, it's hard to live in the $600 a month apartment that you CAN afford, so just don't do it. Live in the $600 a month apartment you CAN afford and be proud of yourself for really surviving on your own, or if you feel up to it, get the $550 a month or the $500 a month apartment and take pride in the fact that you are consciously being frugal by getting by with a little less space or a few less frills than you need to, and save the extra money for a rainy day.

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