“One thing I really miss is being able to go shopping as frequently as I would like,” says Hinds. “It’s very, very hard for me to look at what’s actually in my bank account and what I need and to be intelligent with the way I spend my money. It’s been quite a long time since I’ve purchased clothing for myself.”
The Hinds also don’t eat out very often, a certainly frugal—yet sometimes painful—new habit.
“We certainly have had to say no to dinner invitations, which means you’re not only not getting something great for dinner, but you’re missing out on time with friends as well,” says Hinds. “We try to come up with more creative solutions, where we can have people over or go out for something cheaper.”
The Sappers, too, have just said no to restaurants, for the most part, since they began focusing on growing their net worth—and they used to spend upward of $3,000 a month on eating out.
Their relatively modest, 1,600-square-foot home, which they purchased for $126,000, pales in comparison to the sprawling, million-dollar homes some of their friends dwell in. But while they were the odd couple when they decided to stop keeping up with the Joneses, today many of their friends are now starting to want to jump on the paycheck-to-paycheck bandwagon.
“It went from our friends busting our chops about it to … our friends’ lives are changing to mimic ours,” says Sapper.
Making the Lifestyle Switch
“Opting to live on what’s left over after your savings is allocated won’t happen overnight,” says Brewer. ”Usually when somebody has something in their checking account they tend to spend until it’s gone.”
But dumping what you earn into your checking is the opposite of what she counsels clients to do. Instead, Brewer helps them set realistic budgets that allow them to put at least 20% toward their long-term goals. She also suggests individuals and couples start by setting a specific percentage of their income aside—preferably through automatic deposits to a savings account—as a rule. And it’s important to be open to a new way of living.
“As long as you are open to making adjustments where you might not have been adjusting before, and as long as you’re willing to see where everything is going, you’ll address two the biggest hurdles to allocating your paycheck,” she says. “I have a lot of clients who say they don’t know where their paycheck goes, they just know it disappears.”
Sapper suggests making cuts in baby steps. When he and Tina first made a lifestyle change, they cut back to spending $500 a month on eating out. These days it’s less than $200 a month.
“You can’t go cold turkey overnight,” he says.
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