If you find yourself unable to pay off your credit card balance every month, then by definition you are living beyond your means. Allowing this situation to continue can have serious consequences for your financial security, now and into the future. Time to look for ways to adjust your spending!
1. Know your number. Many of us have no idea what our expenses add up to every month. Find out your number. This will empower you to align your spending to your priorities and zero in on ways to save. A simple spreadsheet can do the trick, or if you prefer, use an online money tracking service (like Mint or Quicken) to see all your financial accounts in one place and even create your first budget. Do this and you will always know where you stand financially. Some budget apps give you complete access to your data through a website and your mobile device, and even an eye on your money for you, sending you alerts when you go over budget.
2. Identify two or three regular monthly expenses that you can do without—then delete them. For one person, the eliminated expense may be premium cable and a too-generous data plan. For another, it may be online shopping and extra spending on eating out. Be creative so you don’t feel deprived. If you love to eat out, challenge yourself to make delicious meals at home six nights a week. Your one restaurant meal per week will feel more special and you’ll save a ton of money.
3. Consider downsizing. You can downsize your home, your car, your wardrobe, your lifestyle. As you reexamine your assumptions about your “needs,” you may discover that you need far less than you thought. This will free you to put your resources and energy towards more important things.