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Over the past 12 years, the world economy has struggled, and this has caused most people financial issues. Unfortunately, the majority of these problems were created by a culture that believed that credit was a viable money resource that could be used with impunity. Now that everyone has had a reality check and fully understands the danger of overextending themselves, it is important to focus on creating a life that embraces the idea of living within your means.

Take a Simple Approach

Although many people used to think that they needed a fancy house, an expensive car and a long list of material possessions to feel accomplished, we now know that this approach is extremely dangerous unless you have the cash on hand to obtain each item. The majority of Americans, for instance, now live paycheck to paycheck – and something as simple as being sick for a few days can make it feel impossible to keep up with the bills.

Instead of letting yourself fall into this trap, it is important to take a close look at the aspects of your life that are truly important. After all, you could spend the rest of your life working overtime to pay for things that you do not even have time to enjoy, but this is not the key to happiness. Instead, it is vastly preferable to scale back your monthly expenses so that you can reduce your level of financial stress and spend quality time with your family and friends. You should also teach your children the art of being frugal as well.

If you currently have so much debt that it is difficult to balance your monthly budget, you should contact a credit counselor rather than have to deal with credit collection agencies intent on driving you crazy. A counseling agency will be able to input all of your debt into their debt relief software to determine the best course of action for reducing your monthly payments. Although you will still be responsible for paying off the money that you owe, they can help you make arrangements with each of your creditors so that you can climb out of debt without sacrificing life’s most important moments.

Making the Change

You will most likely feel a temporary sense of loss when you alter the structure of your life in order to cut expenses, but over time, the removal of stress will vastly outweigh non-essential items such as premium cable channels. In fact, after a few months, most people who remove the unnecessary stuff from their lives feel more emotionally satisfied. Consider for a moment what you and your spouse or partner could do with an extra hour each day. Instead of spending it at work or glued to the television, you could improve your health by working out, maybe even together. Alternatively, the two of you could enjoy more simplistic pleasures such as a playing a board game or having a conversation. This focus on spending quality time together will save money, and it will also enhance your relationship.

If you are struggling financially, this is the perfect time to make a change. Keep in mind that the one of the biggest reasons that couples fight is because they have money problems. By cutting your expenses, you can reduce your stress, improve all of the relationships in your life and have a positive impact on the environment by being less wasteful of electricity and other resources.

Writer Catherine Stephens is a small business consultant and offers this post to open discussion on how spending affects quality of life.

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