Recently, there was an article on CNNMoney that tried to define the phrases ‘living within your means’ and ‘living below your means’. I think they are two phrases that are completely different and here are my ‘definitions’ of them.
Living Within Your Means
To me, this phrase is too positive. Living within your means sounds like you are spending everything that you earn. That sounds more like living paycheck to paycheck. Which one sounds more positive to you? If I told someone I was living within my means, they would think that I am getting by just fine. However, since I am spending everything that I earn in order to pay the bills, mortgage, debt, etc., I am in no way saving any money. They wouldn’t think to ask if I am saving money because the phrase kind of implies that I am saving when I am not. However, living within your means also implies that you are taking on no additional debt. Since I am only buying things that I can afford based on my income, I would not be buying things that I cannot pay with cash.
If I told you that I am living paycheck to paycheck, you would probably feel bad for me. Living paycheck to paycheck is more negative and it definately applies that I am saving no money. I am here to tell you that these phrases are the same thing and there is no difference.
Living Below Your Means
When someone says that they are living below their means, I automatically think of clipping coupons and driving a 1993 Nissan Sentra. I don’t know why, but that is just what I picture. However, I feel that living below your means simply means that you are able to sustain your standard of living by spending less than you earn. You may be completely comfortable with the way you live your life financially. You just do not spend all of your income meaning you can save. You can save up for retirement, a car, a house, etc. Living below your means is they way to become The Millionaire Next Door. Living below your means will also help you get Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck.
What are your definitions of these phrases? Are they radically different than mine? Which category do you feel you fit in?