Living Below Your Means

What does this mean to you? Having money leftover every month? Saving a lot? Buying less than you need? For me, living below your means used to mean not going into debt and saving money when possible. Saving money had a dual meaning: not paying full price by buying on sale, and literally saving money in the bank. We were able to do both over the last 26 years, but I am starting to rethink whether or not we were really living below our means.

In ThinkSaveRetire's post about being sensible, not minimal, he states the following:

"Living below your means is a lifestyle choice that actively prioritizes
 a non-ridiculous way to spend your money."

That phrase got me thinking about how we spent our money. Yes, we prioritized, but I think we still spent way too much and accumulated way too much. We were very good at shopping sales, buying resale, finding deals, and otherwise living below our means, but still accumulated way too much stuff. Just because we didn't go into debt, didn't mean we were making wise purchases. We were not prioritizing in our life what would really benefit us, we just bought without thinking of other options. 

The 27 foot travel trailer that we owned for less than a year? Way too much of an impulse item. Sure, we could afford it, but there were better options and we really didn't like it once we had it. The metal hammock in the backyard? An albatross on the patio that is going to be really hard to sell. Our house is full of lots of little things that we thought we needed, could afford, and purchased, but probably could have done without and saved more.

Not that saving is the holy grail, but now we are living in a house with too much stuff to take care of, and I'm wondering if we really lived below our means. In our quest for a more simple life, we have done a really good job since January of only purchasing items needed to fix broken items (or replace them, like the coffee pot), or paying for home improvement projects which increase the value of our home and help us enjoy it more. As we move forward, I am hopeful we can stem our purchases to the few, really important ones.