By Jared Paul, CFP, CIMA
Many people hold back from doing the things they want to do, such as traveling the world or indulging in new experiences, because of budgetary reasons. But often, approaching your dreams with a different mindset is all that is needed to start doing things in life that you really want to do.
It's often stated that people need to live within their means, which means that you should spend less than you make, avoid debt and not overextend yourself financially. This is true, but what's not always embraced by people is the idea that it's often possible to both live within your means and live the life you truly want.
People often think they can’t afford to do certain things, but this is because they haven’t taken the time to figure out how they can afford to do them in a different way. In the popular book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, the poor dad would regularly say to his son, “We can’t afford X,” subsequently closing the door on any possibility of getting what was desired. The rich dad would tell the son that instead of saying you can’t afford something, you should ask yourself, “How can I afford that?”
Simply forcing yourself to think of ways to achieve your objective as opposed to shutting the possibility off by saying "I can't" will free your mind to be creative and imagine how you can achieve your objectives. This doesn’t mean you should reach for your credit card and go into boatloads of debt. What I’m trying to say is you can afford to live the life you’ve always wanted to, with the help of a little ingenuity.
Here’s how you can begin thinking of ways to “live outside of your means," whatever that means to you.
Spend Less While Traveling
People often talk about their desire to travel more, but are usually roadblocked by money. If only they had more money, they could see the world. But world travel is cheaper than you might think. With new resources and technologies, you can travel the world on a tight budget. You just might have to get creative.
1. Fly On Light Travel Days
Plan your travel on days most people don’t fly. In the U.S., it is usually cheapest on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. Fridays and Sundays are usually the most expensive.
2. Buy Airline Tickets on Tuesdays at 3 p.m. (EST)
This time is usually the low point in the week for listed prices and when you’ll find the best deals.
3. Fly During Unpopular Times
Flights that depart very early are usually not desirable and cost less. You can also find great discounts if you book overnight flights. Book that red-eye flight and save a few bucks.
4. Use Comparison Shopping Sites
Sites like Skyscanner are amazing for finding cheap flights.
5. Use Services like Airbnb, Couchsurfing or Hostels
If you are on a tight budget while traveling, staying in top-rated hotels isn’t the way to go. You can save money by staying in hostels or affordable Airbnb listings. And if you are really looking to stretch your dollar, you can use sites like Couchsurfing, where you can stay on people’s couches for free.
6. Explore Your Own City
Don’t forget about the amazing culture and sites in your own backyard. People often pass up the opportunity to be a tourist in their own cities. In major cities like New York, there is so much to see, yet many residents haven't explored it all. I know people who have lived there for years and have never been to places like the Empire State Building.
People travel thousands of miles to come to New York City and see these sites. Don’t pass up great experiences just because they are easier than flying halfway around the world. Also, don’t overlook domestic travel. Your own country has a lot to offer, wherever you are located.
Save Money at Restaurants
If you're a foodie and you want to try all the restaurants near you so you can talk about and recommend them to your friends, how about planning these culinary adventures when there are deals happening?
In major cities there is usually a “restaurant week” at least once or twice each year. During these times you can find highly-rated restaurants offering prix fixe meals at affordable prices. When I used to live and work in Boston, my older brother and I would meet for lunch during restaurant week and try some really nice places, and not have to spend much at all.
Another idea is to look for new restaurants offering discounts coinciding with their grand opening. The new place in town is usually trying to draw crowds, so they sometimes offer great deals to get people in the door.
If you're looking to spend a night out on the town with friends, instead of heading right to the newest and trendiest spot, start somewhere that offers a happy hour and discounted drink specials. You can start at those places before heading to the swanky, high-priced bars the rest of your friends want to check out.
Buy a Used Car
You may be tired of that old clunker you’ve been driving around and looking to make an upgrade, but buying the newest and best vehicle isn't always the smartest choice.
I recently heard about a friend’s co-worker buying a BMW. While it sounded as if they were living the rich life, it turns out she was able to find a used BMW with only 20,000 miles listed for $14,000. This is cheaper than what other people paid for much less fashionable brands. Taking the time to find an affordable, reliable, used car can save you a lot of money in the long-term.
Don't Overextend Yourself
The purpose of these tips aren't to get you to overextend yourself and get into a tough financial situation, but rather to see things outside the traditional parameters and find ways to do the things you truly desire. By doing this you will be able to live outside your assumed means.
The most important thing is to plan ahead. If you wait until the last minute, it’s always more difficult to find deals. But if you take time to plan all of these things out, you can get creative and find ways to truly live outside your means.
Recent articles by Jared Paul: How Lifestyle Creep Can Ruin Your Future
This article was originally published on Investopedia.