MONEY matters

Mark Zaifman's thoughts on money, global economic trends and politics

Living Below Your Means is Key to a Successful Retirement

Mark Zaifman   |    Wed, Nov 30, 2011 @ 03:16 PM

The Money Class

Of all the many golden rules when it comes to managing money, one of the most classic and familiar is to “live within your means”. How many times have you heard that expression?

But how about “living below your means”? Suze Orman, (whose style is not my favorite, but whose message is clear and spot on) has a new series called The Money Class which is where I heard the phrase living below your means. I’ve watched some of her specials before, yet I think this is her best yet. From the intro I watched on PBS, I believe this Money Class series is going to really benefit many, many people in bad financial shape.

During the boom times, talking about living below your means was a non-starter. Now, with the global economy going through a massive contraction and with so much uncertainty about the future, taking control of your personal finances and living below your means will remain in vogue for some time to come.

For those of you who are frugal already, this is not news to you. You’ve learned how to value your life energy when exchanging that energy for money and you’ve learned how to be conscious when it comes to spending your money. Instead of desiring more things, you desire more time. You’ve created financial freedom for yourself by being an extraordinary saver and aligning your values with your money.

Yet for the majority of people, especially baby boomers looking to retire in 10 or 15 years, the financial strategy of living below your means could very well be the key to your financial success. That’s because with this strategy, there’s ample money leftover at the end of the month to fund your retirement accounts.

By all means, putting this concept into practice is easier said than done. Yet with the New Year right around the corner, what a great time to get your financial house in order.

There are so many X factors that are out of our control when it comes to retirement planning. Yet one area we can exert control over is our spending. With that in mind, challenge yourself to save 20% more in 2012 than you saved in 2011. Of course, saving more means spending less - yet keep your focus on the saving-more part not the spending-less part.

I think the more people out there with a platform like Suze Orman that genuinely help people understand how important it is to live not just within your means, but preferably below your means, the better it will be for all of us.

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