How to Ensure You Live Within Your Means

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Do you currently live within your means? If not, it’s definitely something you should look to improve.

Living within your means refers to spending either equal to or less than you bring home each month. With easy access to credit these days, many people fall into the trap of living beyond their means.

While this may not be problematic to start with, after a while it can lead to numerous implications and even potentially lead you to financial ruin.

So, if you want to avoid this, below you’ll discover how to ensure you spend within your means each and every month.

Track your spending

It’s going to be pretty tough to spend within your means if you don’t even know what your means are. Therefore, the first thing you should do is track your spending against your income.

You can use an app, a spreadsheet or a good old-fashioned notebook to do this. We prefer to use a Google spreadsheet.

Write down all of your monthly incomings and outgoings by calendar month. This will instantly let you see whether you’ve been spending more than you can afford.

If you’ve fully embraced electronic payments and use a debit card or your phone to pay for everything you buy, all the information you need for an overview is inside your bank account. If you want to get more detailed and track every item you buy, you’ll need to keep receipts.

The goal is to spend less than you earned each month and to continue doing that going forward.

Avoid getting into debt

Although credit can be beneficial in some situations, it’s best to avoid borrowing money if at all possible.

This includes using credit cards for purchases, taking out loans to buy goods and definitely not using loan sharks or similarly dodgy companies to see you through to the end of the month.

It’s been a while since we took out a loan to buy anything, and we’ve never used a loan shark, but we know how easy it is to whip out the plastic to pay for something you want, or in some cases, need.

Car repairs for example. We don’t want to pay for those but sometimes they’re needed to keep the car on the road. It’s easy to run up a £500 bill on a modern car and if you don’t have any savings, the only way to pay for that repair is through credit.

For such situations, we have credit cards we can turn to. We deliberately keep the credit limit low so spending can’t get out of hand. And we do our best to pay the balance off in full as soon as possible.

Ideally, that would be when the next payment is due to avoid paying interest.

Look at ways to boost your income

Sometimes, even with the best spending habits, you may find that your current income isn’t enough to comfortably get by. In this situation, it’s best to look at ways to give your income a little boost.

It could be you need to start searching for a better-paid job, or you may need to consider taking on a second job.

Working habits have changed over the last few years and it’s not uncommon for people to have two, three or even more jobs. Some people work one full-time job and a couple of part-time jobs they do in the evening or at weekends.

Another way to boost your monthly income is to start a side hustle where you’re the boss. Typical examples include starting a blog, freelance writing, flipping goods you find online, tutoring, graphic design, tech help, dog walking, photography or cleaning.

If you’re good with your hands and enjoy crafting, you could make stuff and sell it on sites like Etsy.

There are tons of ways to boost your income these days. Just decide what you’re good at, and what you want to do, and find a place to do it.

Get impulse buying under control

One of the biggest things which can push you to spend beyond your means is impulse buying. If you tend to buy a lot of things without thinking it through, that’s something you’ll want to change.

Before spending, ask yourself whether you actually need what you’re buying. If not, don’t buy it.

Featured image © rattanakun via

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