Living Within Your Money

Posted: Jul 02, 2013 12:01 AM

This is Wall Street’s most recent statement of fear: “You may not be able to retire in the same lifestyle that you have known, unless you buy stocks.”  Indeed, I’ve heard that argument for as long as I can remember.  Therefore, let’s examine this so-called declaration of fear in greater detail.    

In 2002, I wrote a book entitled The One Hour Survival Guide for the Downsized—What You Need to Know When You’re Let Go.  In the book, I spend a lot of time discussing the reality that your lifestyle will definitely change, regardless of how much money you have.  This fact is as true today as it was when I originally authored the book.  However, Wall Street is currently professing that not having enough money is always a bad thing.  I emphatically disagree.  As an example, let’s consider dining out.  Back in the old days, you and your significant other expected to pay a total of $60 to $80 for a good steak dinner.  Nowadays, that $60 to $80 is the total for only one person — and that doesn’t include any refreshments.  In addition, it seems the quality of the food has diminished these days, the service is questionable, and the overall dining experience is just not the same.  The simple solution to this dilemma would be to visit your local grocery store, purchase two succulent filets and a fine bottle of wine (according to Wall Street, that’s all you can afford), and ultimately create a much better dining experience all on your own.      

Here’s another scenario to contemplate.  You’re retired and you have time to party all night, but money is still tight.  Since you’ll probably fall asleep early while attempting to celebrate, the alternative is to save that “party” money and take the grandkids to the zoo.  You’ll stay awake and have a lot more fun.  

It also appears that you can’t afford to attend a Major League Baseball game anymore.  Not a big deal.  Instead, check out a minor league baseball game and enjoy an ice cold beer and a delicious hot dog.  After all, it’s still baseball.  And it goes without saying that the genuine enthusiasm and downright hustle of the minor league players will put the major leaguers to shame.  

Furthermore, it looks as if you can’t come up with the money to view a newly released film at the movie theater, a total of $30 to $40, including food, for two people.  Answer: find a nearby Redbox, make your own popcorn, and afterwards you can hold hands with your “honey” for a star-filled walk around the block.  

Whether it’s a total transformation regarding an ongoing financial situation, the effect of a significant family issue, dealing with the onset of a physical ailment, or a whole host of other reasons, my point is that lifestyles always change.  Yet, as long as you get a little bit creative — keeping in mind all the wonderful choices that the world offers — you’ll never miss a beat.  It’s an extremely effective technique known as living within your money, not your means.                                       

Sorry, Wall Street.  But once again you’re dead wrong.