Thursday, May 12, 2011

Do You Live Beyond Your Means? How Do People Do It These Days?

Between mine and my husband's salaries we make a pretty good living, and yet we never feel like we have a whole lot of disposable income.  I often look around at friends and acquaintances who can't be making that much more than us, but who seem to live much more lavish lifestyles - more trips, bigger houses, fancier cars, dinners and shows, etc. I can't help but wonder, how do they do it? 

We try hard to put money away toward savings, but I never feel like I'm doing enough.  Our priority right now is definitely our children's education - we contribute the maximum to their RESPs every year.  And of course, money goes toward RRSPs.  I recently created a budget and tried to figure out where to cut on expenses... I didn't have a whole lot of success.  And I kept asking myself, are we doing something wrong?

Expenses for certain things have definitely gone up - I find our grocery bill ridiculous.  I saw an episode recently of TLC's new show Extreme Couponing and thought maybe I needed to try coupons.  Then I read a couple of blog posts from women who had also seen the new show and experimented... the time it took to find the coupons and go to the right stores didn't seem to make it worthwhile, unless you wanted to do it as a full time job like the women on the show.  Since time is something I don't have a ton of as it is, I'm thinking this is not the way to do it for our family.  Although using a few coupons here and there can't be all bad if they are for stores where I'm already shopping... I'll put that on my to-do list.

In all seriousness though, I did a little search on "how to live within your means" and found mostly the same stuff.  Here's an article that had one of the most common list of tips.  We already do quite a bit of what was included:  I have created a budget so we know what comes in and how much goes out, we don't have credit card debt, we don't eat out often, I bring a lunch almost every day, I don't buy coffee daily (although my husband often does, despite my purchase of a Nespresso machine), I make a shopping list before doing the groceries, etc. etc.  The reality is, we are pretty simple folks.  We don't make extravagant purchases or feel we have to keep up with the Joneses, but somehow, others seem to just do more.  Of course, they may be living in debt or on credit, who knows!

This is one of those areas that just doesn't get discussed amongst friends, and often even amongst family.  It seems intrusive and off limits.  But I am asking... how do you do it?  For any of you brave enough to answer, I'm sure that I'm not the only one wondering! 

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