Living Within Your Means

By: Sherry Tingley | Posted: 23rd May 2011

For the past thirty years or so, the image of Americans is one of a hard-working, materialistic people. The marketing industry feeds us a constant stream of new gadgets or the latest technological toy, and we, for some reason, eat it up. Somehow it has been embedded into our brains that money equals happiness. We are a country consumed by consumerism.

Most Americans spend more time working than they spend doing anything else in their lives.

The majority of the general public spends so much time working to earn money to buy stuff that they don't have enough free time to even properly enjoy it. We are a nation compelled by greed, by an insatiable desire to own the best of everything- the nicest house on the block in the nicest neighborhood in town, the newest, best looking car, the latest technological gadget, etc., etc.

But is it really worth it?

In this time of economical hardship, when most people are stretching themselves thin between long work hours- sometimes between two, even three jobs- chronic stress is on the rise. Perhaps it is time to step back and take a look at what is really important in life, and ask ourselves: does money really equal happiness?

The Difference Between Europeans and Americans

It is a known fact that Europeans work less than American's- in fact, they work 350 hours less than we do a year. This is because there is one major difference between the European mindset and the American mindset: Americans live to work. Europeans work to live.

Europeans are, naturally, less stressed than the average American worker. Most Americans are raised with the mentality that life must be dedicated to a career, to a salary, to possessions. American's don't take time to, simply, enjoy life. Europeans, on the other hand, do.

How To Find Happiness Without Letting Money Control You

You know that big trip you've been saving up for? That Ferrari you've been making sacrifices in order to afford? Forget those things. Instead of taking one expensive, but probably short vacation, take a series of small trips with your family throughout the year. It's ok to buy little things here and there that make you happy- even investing in a box of chocolate every now and then is ok.

Although it's probably nice to drive a Ferrari or own that 46", HD flat-screen TV, these things are not necessities.

Ask yourself if the short-lived rush you will get from making these big purchases will outweigh the initial headache that paying off the bill will be in the long run.

Before making any purchase, you should always ask yourself: is this a need or a want?

If it's an inexpensive want, then it's probably safe to splurge every once in a while- as long as those little, inexpensive wants don't start piling up. (A bunch of small bills can swiftly turn into a large amount in no time.) Reevaluate your priorities, and decide what is really important in life.

It is important to match your priorities with what you want in life. By creating priorities, you determine how you are going to spend your money.

Most importantly, live within your means. Simply put: if you can't afford it, don't buy it. Most American's are already drowning in credit card debt. By living within your budget and not accumulating a ton of bills, life can be much more enjoyable- and you won't have to work yourself to death in order to achieve it.


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Tags: greed, mentality, known fact, marketing industry, mindset, thirty years, gadget, ferrari, salary, happiness, chronic stress, brains, possessions, free time, europeans, sacrifices, new gadgets