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Living below your means

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

October 14, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - While your income is likely higher than your parents' was 30 years ago, you may not be savings as much of it. A lot of people spend more than they make, which means there's little left for savings. And when tough times hit, that can mean big trouble.

It's been the mind set of American's for two decades now. If you don't have cash, just charge it. A mind set that's gotten many of us into trouble. "We're in a society now that, I want it, I want it now, and if it costs me extra, so be it," said Consumer Counselor Melba Bridges.

She says too often people live well beyond their means... and that doesn't just apply to those with low salaries. "It's not necessarily low income, it's not necessarily uneducated people that we see. It's just people that have not learned how to manage their money."

And now owe more than they take home. So what can you do? First, pay off your debts, especially those high interest credit cards. If you can't pay them off, shop around for a lower interest rate.

Each month, put some money away, and always pay yourself first. If you get a raise, save it, don't spend it. And always take advantage of employer matched money, like many 401K plans offer.

Bridges said, "It's not so bad to get into financial trouble, it's bad to stay there. You need to get some help and get out." Out of debt, and into financial freedom.

Melba Bridges says she now sees younger clients getting into financial trouble because they are able to get credit cards in their names. Making a budget is often the first step to seeing where you are spending more than you should and how you can save. You can do that by clicking here.

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