Monday, April 9, 2012

Living Below Your Means

I know everyone has heard, 'Live within your means'. We all know it means not to
spend more than you make. But is that the key to debt free freedom?
When you start talking to people with real freedom financially they will almost
always say it was not how much they made, but how much they did NOT spend.
We can always find ways to earn more money. It is not until we learn how to not spend
money unnecessarily that we will experience true freedom.
First hand experience (mine and others) will
tell us, when we earn more we also spend more. We elevate our lifestyle.
Maybe we do it in small ways ("I can spend more on groceries") or maybe we do it in large ways
("We earn twice now, I can get a new car!"), but chances are almost all of us do it
when we see an increase in money. The question do we change that?
And the desire to be truly free.
Neither of those are easy but the good news is if have more of the latter then
the first thing will be easier to come by. For us we lacked discipline but we are filled
with a burning desire to be debt free and to have more freedom in our life. 
So, here is how we are putting in place living below our means :

1. Cut our entertainment expenses. 
We have no cable/dish, pay as you go internet, no netflix or subscriptions to things we once had. Though
it would be easy to for someone to feel deprived doing this, we welcome it. Our ultimate desire is
to live off-grid. So the sooner we unhooked from these things, the easier it will be for us to make that
transition to the off grid life down the road.

2. Lower our housing cost. 
I know this is not possible for everyone, especially if you have a mortgage. But we are renters and in less than a year we will be relocating. We are purposely looking for cheaper rent in our new state so we can maximize our savings. Our goal is to buy a home mortgage free so we can really be FREE!

3. Spend less on transportation.
In the last year we have sold our 2nd vehicle when my hubby decided to take his bike to work. We have saved thousands of dollars in gas, repairs and insurance. We also moved our deductible up for our insurance on our van. We just made sure whatever the deductible is that we had savings to match it. We also cut our driving to conserve gas money and repairs from wear and tear. We plan to continue this type of transportation in the future. Maybe even employing our bikes more.

4. Cut food costs.
This was a hard thing for us because we do not want to compromise on healthy, whole foods as organically as possible. But thankfully we got a Trader Joe's recently so it was easier. We spend on average $400 to $500 a month to feed our family of 5. This is 3 meals a day at home almost every day of the week. When we are home owners again then we plan to reduce our costs by growing and producing as much as our own food as possible.

5. Reduce our clothing costs.
This was easy for us. We buy 95% all of our clothing used. We have really good thrift stores and consignment shops so it made it a breeze. We made this change awhile back when we heard an alarming stat, it takes 1/3rd of a pound of pesticides for enough cotton for one t-shirt. Since our family can afford organic clothing we choose to buy used instead.

These are just simple thing we do to under consume our means. There are many other things we can do to reduce even further. Our goal isn't to under consume in order to amass other things. Our goal is a more simple life that makes us free from conventional systems. It will also allow us to give more than we do now with this debt over our head. The more we have, the more we can give.
What could you do if you had more freedom?


Bama Girl said...

Chele, you and your hubby have made right choices so young! Just think, when you get to retirement age how free you'll be! Actually, ya'll will be free long before that age, it sounds. I admire you for what you are doing! Wish we had made different choices, but God is helping us to make better choices now. We do have a large mortgage payment but it will be paid off in less than fifteen years. I'm very grateful for that because it was thirty years! We are slowly becoming debt free in other areas. We are adding more to our garden this year as I've learned to can. I hope to put up enough tomatoes, at least, to get us through a year. I could go on, but you get the idea. Blessings from Bama!

Chele said...

We are in our early 40's, so we don't feel so young! I think everyone regardless of their situation can do some changes to make their life more simple and free. My wish is that when everyone retires they can REALLY retire. :)

emilyhansen said...

I'm so glad I found this blog! I'm a young mom in Minneapolis who is hoping to glean a lot for your wisdom! We are trying hard to live debt free and to pay with cash for all we need. Easier said than done but practical tips are so appreciated! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!
I loved your last line here too: "The more we have, the more we can give" I am amazed at God's faithfulness!

Chele said...

It is easier said than done, but such a good goal. And your right, God's faithfulness is AMAZING! :)

Elise said...

This is so right! Living within ones means is not enough! As you said, it's easier said than done, but the sense of accomplishment if nothing else is worth all the effort!

Tip Garden said...

I loved your suggestions! It is hard to live below your means once you've already developed years of unnecessary spending. I've been thinking about unhooking the cable and having a "media fast" for a week or so, to prove we can adjust to change. Thanks for the inspiration!
Jan from

Chele said...

I want to be completely transparent with people when I say, it is so much easier said than done. Our natural instinct is when we make more, we spend more....we increase our lifestyle.
But like you said it is so worth the effort!

Chele said...

You hit the nail on the head. It is very hard to break the routine. We certainly just wake up and decide, hey lets spend less. Nor are we really disciplined. For us it has been baby steps to get here and we still have such a long ways to go.
The media fast is one of the first baby steps we did. We use to be a 4 TV household. Ack! We have one now that we rarely turn on, we have no cable or anything. But it took years for us to get to this point.

Leslie A said...

So true. Thanks for your post. Living below our means also gives us the freedom to GIVE, as well :) So many times we see a need but we can't meet it because we don't have any "extra" money--so we say.

We eliminated our netflix at the beginning of the year for the very same reason. Not having any luck eliminating cable, however. I have a husband who loves the Phillies ;) But I'll keep praying!

Rose Jesky said...

Hi, think this is a great post. I'm a new follower, and I was wondering if you would consider sharing this as a gust post on my blog? All you would have to do is copy and past the HTML code for the post and send it to me in an email. I think you have a wonderful blog and this post is very valuable.
Rose @

Chele said...

That is what I love most about doing this adventure, to be able to give more! :)

Chele said...

Sorry for the delay, I am on vacation. Just shoot me a email at :)

Jaden Allred said...

If you have discipline, you’ll surely have a debt free life. Knowing the difference between needs and wants and having full control over your desires can keep you from overspending. Spend less and save more.

-Jaden Allred