I’ve had this post halfway drafted in my inbox for longer than a year now, and I think it’s about time to put it out there, haha… That’s what happens I suppose when you have 120+ ideas sitting in there :)
But yeah – can you imagine if you lived off only 50% of your income?? How much STRESS and FREEDOM that would open up for you? I mean, I know it’s not possible for *everyone* to do since we’re all in different phases of our financial lives and what not, but it’s at least worth a few minutes of your consideration. Even to just formulate a plan on HOW to actually make that happen.
This popped up in my head today for two reasons. The first was because of a comment JMK made on our post the other year on always keeping a $100 buffer in your checking account. (If you still read the blog, JMK, I’d love to see how it’s been going!)
We’ve cut our expenses to the basics so that we can live on ~55% of our take home pay. This doesn’t include savings or things spend on rarely and can’t predict the timing (restaurants, clothing, household and car repairs, etc). Most weeks none of these things happen so all the excess after paying off the VISA gets swept out to our retirement accounts or an extra mortgage payment. If we had to buy new sneakers for the kids, repair the washing machine, or bought a new lamp, we simply transfer slightly less that week. When we want to take a holiday we just let the excess pile up for several weeks and then go. It’s a little unconventional but it’s a system that works for us.
Because we live on way less than we earn, we have a weekly opportunity to fund unexpected expenses or little splurges, but most of the time it all gets moved somewhere sensible. I find that by not budgeting for entertainment, clothing etc we don’t feel entitled – as if we’ve pre-approved ourselves to spent that amount without pausing to question whether we really need it. Instead there is no planned budget for these items and anything we spend is coming out of what would otherwise be available for the Friday transfer to savings or the mortgage.
Pretty sexy, right? She’s oozing with freedom and the luxury of living life on her OWN terms! I freakin’ love it. The second thing that caught my attention recently, was a show on Oprah the other month (yes, guys watch Oprah too!). They had this family on who was making bookoo bucks, but their daughter didn’t think they were doing enough to give back and somehow convinced mom & dad to completely change their lifestyle. I can’t remember all the details exactly, but I do know they ended up downgrading their home and donating more money & time to charity, and it was all because they cut back on expenses and started living off of only 50%. (Update: Here’s the book on their story! The Power of Half, thx for finding it Lora!).
Now that’s obviously an extreme situation here, but I recall them saying it wasn’t that hard AT ALL to cut things out and learn to just spend less over time (I think it took them a year to get to that point?). Many of us are already trying to get to this level and what not, but it’s a great idea to keep in the back of your minds when you’re pouring over that budget or financial game plan of yours.
Another thing people do which is KILLER, is only living off one one *paycheck* and saving/investing/paying down debt w/ the other one (provided you’re married or living w/ a partner or gf/bf/etc). It doesn’t necessarily fall into the 50/50 category here, but the point is that if you could live off of only 1 person’s paycheck each month, you could do some serious upgrades to your financial life. And if God forbid something happens to one of your jobs – like a lay off or demotion or whatever – you know you could at least survive w/ the other person’s checks (and hopefully it would be the larger of the two ;)).
Just different ways of saying “spend less than you earn,” and if you can do that at the 50% level you’re a rock star. Which I’m sure all of my lovely readers here are doing, right? RIGHT? ;) I accidentally kinda fell into that once the Mrs. started attending grad school 4 years ago (wow time flies!), but I’d like to think it was possible even without that. I can’t even imagine what’ll be like once she brings home a sizeable income again! Even $30k or $40k would be a nice change from the $12k over the past handful of years… something tells me, though, that our baby mohawk girl/guy around the corner may keep us on the current track for a bit longer ;)
Any of you living off of one paycheck right now too? How about 50% of your income? Tell us all your secrets, we need more motivation!
(Photo by Images_of_Money)