Successful, wealthy people do not just suddenly become rich and successful. Success is a process that takes place over many years. There are certain habits that are responsible for the accumulation of wealth over one’s lifetime. I call them the Rich Habits. One such Rich Habit is spending less than you make. I call it the living below your means Rich Habit. Long before most wealthy people become wealthy, they make a habit of living below their means. The following is a list of ten spending habits that will keep you in the poor house and prevent you from ever achieving financial independence:
- Charging ordinary living expenses on a credit card – If you are unable to afford meeting your ordinary living expenses and must resort to the use of a credit card to meet your monthly living expenses, you are by definition, living above your means. Accumulating credit card debt is the third leading cause of bankruptcy, behind a job loss (#2) and medical costs (#1).
- Spending more than 25% of your net income on housing costs. Housing costs include rent, mortgage, real estate taxes, utilities, insurance, repairs and maintenance.
- Spending more than 15% of your net income on food. This includes groceries and does not include prepared food. Prepared food is part of your entertainment budget.
- Spending more than 10% of your net income on entertainment/gifts. This category includes bars, restaurants, movies, music, books, gifts etc. Eating out and any prepared food you purchase is part of your entertainment budget.
- Spending more than 5% of your net income on car expenses. Car expenses include a lease, loan, insurance, gas, tolls, registration fees, repairs and maintenance.
- Spending more than 5% of your net pay on vacations.
- Spending any money on gambling. If you’re going to gamble it should come out of your entertainment budget.
- Going over the top on gift giving. Gifts are part of your entertainment/gift budget. Sticking to your 10% budget will prevent you from going overboard on gift giving.
- Spending more than 5% on clothing. More than a few of the wealthy in my study had the Rich Habit of buying the bulk of their clothes at goodwill stores. Many Goodwill stores sell high quality clothing at a deep discount. It may require spending a few more dollars on a tailor, but it’s well worth the additional cost.
- Spontaneous spending is never a good idea. You need to take the emotion out of your spending habits. There is always time to plan and shop before your spend your hard earned money.
Maintaining a spending budget for various categories and getting into the habit of writing down everything you spend will keep you on the right track. It will also open your eyes for the first time. You will be shocked to find out how much you spend on certain budget categories. And that’s a good thing. Getting control of your spending is not an easy task. Once it becomes a daily habit, however, it gets much easier. You will fall into a pattern and a routine that will keep you out of the poor house. Happy spending.