Sustainability, whether something has the ability to last, comes in many different forms. When you’re talking financial sustainability, it’s all about finding the right balance. Are you able to live for today and plan for tomorrow? Can you be content with your lifestyle now and make positive steps toward a life you’re dreaming of sometime in the future?
We’re big advocates for people doing what they want with the money they have at their disposal. Life is too short to constantly be worrying about every dollar you spend. There is absolutely nothing wrong with treating yourself to something nice and new now and again. On the other hand, if you find your checking account is completely empty weeks before your next payday, it’s likely you’re living a little too large. Balance is key.
Many financial advisors would tell you a detailed daily budget will get you on the right track. Budgeting can certainly be a very helpful tool, but it can also lead to a feeling of ultimate defeat if the money restrictions are completely unrealistic. And often, the very people who are nitty gritty budgeters for a few months find themselves completely out of sorts with their money after a while. They simply can’t keep up with all the number crunching!
Here’s the thing. The cost of big ticket items that steadily eat away at your monthly cash flows over the years, like housing and cars, are what really push the needle on lifestyle sustainability. The snowballing accumulation of these debts in particular can lead to big time troubles ahead. If you’re at the very limit of your ability to afford something, you’re unfortunately one emergency away from financial catastrophe. And worrying in hindsight about whether you should have purchased that big ticket item to begin with leaves you with years of emotional baggage. It’s the big financial regrets that we’re trying to help people avoid as much as possible.
To find out if you’re living a financially sustainable lifestyle, take some time to look at your habits. Nobody knows how you spend your money better than you do. It’s up to you to have a heart to heart with yourself and see where you fall on the sustainability scale. Here are a few big questions to ponder:
- Is your net worth trending up or down?
- If there was an emergency, how would you handle it financially?
- Are you already spending above and beyond your current income?
- Are you an accumulator of “stuff”?
- Are you a saver, a spender, or somewhere in between?
- Do you live a paycheck to paycheck existence?
- Are you an emotional spender?
- Do you have financial regrets?
Your ultimate goal should be contentment with where you are now and the confidence in knowing you can continue along this path for many years to come. If you’re already there, congratulate yourself for living well within your means. If you have some work to do, that’s perfectly okay. We’re here to help guide you in any way that we can.