Lifestyle choices (cars, houses, vacations, entertainment and more) are by far the most fun spending, but we definitely need to manage them well or what may seem enjoyable at the time of purchase can result a lot of financial stress.
Here’s 8 tips to consider to make sure you’re doing lifestyle choices the right way when it comes to your spending:
Not one size that fits all – While most of us need automobiles for transportation, we can still choose how much to spend on them. Some people choose to spend more on luxury while others spend enough to get four running wheels. The amount you spend on lifestyle choices is entirely up to you based on what you can afford and your priorities. Lifestyle choices are not one size that fits all which we sometimes think.
Always plan ahead for them – It’s important to plan ahead for expenses, but it’s especially import to do so for lifestyle choices. The life you choose to live and the things you buy can often be emotional. Have you ever caught a case of car or home fever? Did you get a little jealous of someone’s outfit or accessory at work? If you’re human, I assume the answer is, yes. These emotions that can cause us to spend. If you plan ahead by including them in a budget you won’t be tempted to spend when you don’t have the money.
They should come last in your budget – Speaking of budget, lifestyle choices typically come last in priority. Vacations, movies, pets, music, amusement parks are all expenses that should only be considered after giving, saving and essential expenses of food and shelter are met. If you budget and prioritize them last, you’ll be forced to only spend money you have availableand save up for more fun when you need to.
Don’t compare yours to others – I hinted of this above, but always comparing ourselves to others and the things our neighbors have will only lead to a life of discontentment. It’s much easier when our focus is on managing our own expenses. Of course being content is something that must be learned and it’s not easy with all the advertising and temptations in media these days.
Don’t feel guilty about them – I don’t think we should ever feel guilty about enjoying life and nice things as long as they are in the proper priority, they don’t become our focus and are affordable from good planning. Furthermore, I think it’s wrong to look down upon someone who drives a luxury car or has nice things. This is a sign of discontentment and comparing. Why not wear and buy nice if you can afford to do so! It’s all relative to individual budgets.
Never spend ahead for them – I use a credit car for all of my expenses and pay it off every single month. There are plenty of things I want and would love to have. I just can’t afford them right now without sacrificing other important priorities. It’s never wise to spend ahead for lifestyle. You never know what tomorrow will bring and if you’ll be able to make that credit card payment. Don’t spend more on your credit card than you can pay off in one month or for each paycheck you receive!
Shop around for them – You can definitely afford more lifestyle purchases if you’re willing to spend time shopping around and looking for good deals. This website is full of articles across different lifestyle categories to help you do just that. My wife is a patient shopper. If she needs new clothes she’ll visit at least three stores before making a decision. Patience and a little research is key to find the best deals for your lifestyle spending.
Watch out! They can creep up on you – Lifestyle can creep up on you and crowd out other areas that are important for your money. Here are some examples: you buy more house than you can afford (typically more than 25% of take home pay); your eating out is making it difficult to save extra money each month or pay for groceries; your car payment limits the amount you can give to your church. You can definitely stop lifestyle creep buy closely following a budget, reviewing spending guidelines and sometimes meeting with a financial coach. Just remember that we’re all susceptible to lifestyle creep if we don’t carefully manage this area.
What do you think about these tips?