How Do You PERSONALLY Define This?

Updated on November 22, 2011
E.B. asks from Tacoma, WA
21 answers

Living within your means?

We have our 2nd Occupy Federal Way meeting Saturday.

It was open to the public, and we had about 30 people or so show up.

One of which was an Active Tea Party member. In the middle of a great debate about what is ''Going on'' he posed this question. It was directed at Mark Miloscia, a Wa. St. Rep. who came out to listen and show his support, while trying to fully understand what it is we all want.

He(the Tea Party Gentlemen)never got the answer I thought he deserved. and mainly this is because many of us do not know what living within our means is.

One thing he brought up that did not get answered was...Does that include Cable TV. Does everyone DESERVE CABLE TV. Although my answer to this in NO. I still am wheeling all of this around in my head.

My definition for living within your means is jaded. So I do not feel I can honestly answer his question. Because we are still learning how to survive within what we make in a month.

So For someone that has a bit better and unbiased opinion, what does ''Living within your means'', mean to you?

What are things you believe are human RIGHTS and what do you think are human entitlements?

I get this may seem like a stab. It is not.. I liked his question and I still would like to take the time to give him answer at the meeting this Saturday.

I am going to be using some of your responses to help give him the answer he truly deserves. Because I think it is a question alot of people are trying to answer right now.

Thank you for taking the time to calmly and peacefully answer this:) I do not want to start a fight. This is just easier then going door to door asking people. Less chances I will get spit on(and yes, this has happened to me in recent weeks).

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So What Happened?

:) I am not debating the Occupy movement. I understand where people stand on it. and I get people understand how passionate I am about it. I am trying to reach out and understand other peoples opinions...and he asked a question I thought was dead on what we all need to be asking ourselves. And then looking at our lives to see where we can improve.

I am not asking to debate the movement...I am asking for opinions I can bring to the movement..I am asking you guys, because I truly value your opinions. And know I will receive a wide variety of answers.

I am using cable just as an example....It could be anything from that to maybe whether or not you buy name brand or generic, really.

@Jasmine J. It has everything to do with the movement. Because the press is starting to pick apart single Occupier's lives to show where they may have gone wrong. I know people who say they are struggling, yet still own Iphones, Expensive Purse's and newer cars. Some even are coming out in support of the movement. I question them for being Hypocrite to some degree...But maybe I do not fully understand what they think is right. So it has everything to do with the movement, Practicing what you preach and being true.

I need to know where people believe that line NEEDS to be drawn...Because we are stuck on the argument of what we are owed versus what we are entitled. For so long We have been living with the idea Phones, Cable, nicer cars and all the extra's are a given in life. And the reality that is starting to fall on people is hard.

This is why I am asking. Because I have lost the ability to do anything but try and survive. So I am not a good judge any more for what is an Extra...Because there has not been extra in my life for sometime. I only have the internet and Cable because my house mate pays for them. And I thank him for that.

so this is not taken wrong, my tone is not angry. Just matter of fact on why the two do go together:)

@ Jenny H. I LOVE THAT you ask:) I can not speak for the Protesters in your area. I know with 100% knowledge of most people's situations that are living at Occupation Park in Tacoma Wa. 85% of them have some type of employment. about 35% of that is Full Time work. The lady who I admire the most is an Occupational Therapist at the hospital two blocks up from where she now camps full time. Only going home to shower, help with Camp dishes and maybe warm up a bit. She still pays her Mortgage, bill and instead of shopping for herself, is buying enough food for at least three people at the park on a weekly basis. she is one of many. One of the Occupier's in a Computer Software engineer. Not only is he working full time, occupying tacoma and lead singer in a band...He is from Federal Way and is helping me get our Occupation off the ground. We do have our share of homeless people who have stuck around to have a warm meal and nice conversation. For the part time worker's they have fast food jobs, paper routes, some do handy work. For people like Sarah, the occupational Therapist and Lee the engineer, they have places they could be going home too. Yet they feel things are bad enough now for people home is not an option.

I have been a periodically Occupier. Having the kids, it is hard to leave them to be down there for any longer then a part time thing. I work. Luckily I work from home regardless and that makes it easy for me to be down there. Many of them, are people who tried to pursue their piece of the American Dream and LOST everything in the process..Or because of the Recession. They made the mistake of wanting to be come something better. And had the system screw them over.

So when you see the people out in the crowds do not automatically(not saying you do)think they are jobless bums. Because we are not.

He may have knwon the answer....But people sure as hell could not give him one. So this shows me that there are people out there that do not understand what a need/want is versus a necessity. That is where he did not get the answer he deserved. I thought it was a good question, that should have a simple answer but to many it is not that apparent.

More Answers


answers from Washington DC on

Well, honeslty this will start a fight because Occupy is a passionate topic. You are passionately supporting it, and I passionately wish it would go the heck away. Nothing is coming from it.

Living within your means is simple. If you work at McDonald's, you don't get to live in a gated community and drive a benz on my dime. If someone can't manage their money, it sure as heck shouldn't be my problem to fix it.

My husband and I had months where we couldn't afford to eat - my FAMILY helped us out, not the Government.

We spend less than what we bring in. Isn't that the simple math of living within your means?

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answers from Atlanta on

I don't know that my opinion is better than yours or more unbiased -although I don't think it actually has a bias. To live within one's means to me means that you don't buy any extras until you've taken care of the necessities -food, clothing, shelter, transportation, utilities -all of that. Now some of those things are wildly different when it comes to cost depending on what you get. If you really cannot afford a $1500 mortgage without using credit cards to pay for groceries and gas all the time, then you need to live in a less expensive home. I think having to use credit is a big hallmark for me -it you can afford to buy clothes at Penney's or Sears or Target or Walmart but you have to charge name brand clothes at Nordstrom, then maybe you need to stick to Penney's. We all have things we WANT, but we are not entitled to them -cable tv being one. TV period. It STEAMS me to drive by projects and see a Dish satellite outside of every one when they're using food stamps and public assistance. No one has to have cable or satellite tv!

In my opinion -you are not "entitled" to extras -trips to amusement parks and new cars; nail jobs and expensive hair; name brand clothing and accessories; cable or satellite anything; nights out on the town or sporting events; booze and cigarettes -no one must have any of those things to exist. They're all nice (except maybe the smokes), but people need to work for them and earn the money to pay for them on their own.

It's ridiculous in our nation that anyone goes hungry, but it's difficult when you start talking about sheltering, clothing and feeding people because you always have the freeloaders. These are the folks that make others want to give a big "SCREW YOU" to everyone. I think we need to have assistance in place, but I think you should have to work to get it. Unless you're a child, over the age of 70 or so physically or mentally handicapped or incapacitated that you cannot do anything, then there's work that needs to be done. Picking up garbage, beautifying public areas, cleaning graffiti, answering phones in government offices, providing childcare -the list goes on and on and on of what we could have people do who apply for assistance. Many may even develop new skills! And the real sticky wicket -healthcare -I DO believe every citizen of this country should be able to receive one full checkup per year and sick visits. If someone has cancer, we should treat it. It's hard to find a happy medium with providing healthcare though -hence all the argument around it. And again, people probably wouldn't be SO adamantly opposed to government healthcare if the rest of the welfare system hadn't been handled so abysmally for decades.

So there are my opinions -I don't think there's a neat and great solution to the healthcare issue. For me it's like illegal immigration -there's NO great solution and whatever you do is going to piss a bunch of people off and royally screw someone. Good luck with your poll!

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answers from Portland on

For me, living within our means is not buying things on credit.
We do not have ANY credit cards.

We only buy things that we can actually buy with our money.
If we don't have the money for it now, we save up.

We don't use checks either, instant debit or cash, that is the only way we buy anything.
We do not have any loans either, no past due bills.

We may not have a fancy car or big house, we may not go on cruises or get a million presents at xmas...

But we are doing better than just about everyone we know since the recession hit.
We also have never had our money in a big regular bank.

Husband is quietly and patiently going to school and climbing the corporate ladder.
He has had 3 promotions in the past 4 years.
He is about to have another in Feb.

We are planning to get to the point where he can get a inter-company transfer and we are moving either to Canada or England.

Human Rights:
-Not being barred from participating in voting, working, owning a home (or renting), having a family, and all the other basic rights and freedoms we have.

-Not being murdered, bullied, harassed, threatened, or abused for religious/political/spiritual beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, age, or race.

-I believe that a job (or access to a job), a place to live, food to eat, heating and air conditioning, and health care should all be human rights.

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answers from San Antonio on

"Living within your means" - to me means using credit cards sparingly, for emergency or for large purchases where there's no interest for a year or so. You are living "within your means" if you pay off the credit card before ANY interest is accrued. Living within your means means that you can buy healthy food every week for your family - perhaps once a week out to eat, the rest of the meals cooked at home. Not fancy foods, not total junk either. Just a balanced meal with a veg, protein, fruit, small dessert. Living within your means - you don't go out shopping every weekend on a whole bunch of high-end electronics. Just b/c everyone else has an iPhone doesn't mean you have to have one! (I don't have one, and I could easily afford one. But my 3 yr old flip phone still works, so why do I need anything new?)

No, cable is not a right. Honestly neither is public channels you can get with bunny ears. I think that's a great perk - free tv with an antenna. Internet is nice, but not essential to life. Plenty of places have wi-fi and the library has computer and internet access for free (govt tax paid. Nothings free!) TV and internet are entitlements. Strangely, I know people who can't afford food, don't have money for rent, refuse to get a job (thanks govt), but have the nicest iPhone and the latest apps! Whatever.

I'll stop there.

DITTO MOM2KCK - living w/in your means is spending less than you earn. EARN. Too many free-loaders out there 'entitled' to things that really they aren't. Our economy could be so much better if there weren't so many handouts to those who don't NEED it.

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answers from Houston on

Really? People didn't know how to define "living within your means"?

It means not spending more than you have or make. If you make $100 a month, then you can't spend more than $100 a month to live. If you have $500 in your savings for a new TV, don't get one that costs $600, putting $100 on credit.

To live is defined as things to meet your basic needs - clothes, food, shelter. Lifestyle is defined as anything outside basic needs.

My human rights are to live and breathe without being harmed in anyway. My human rights as a citizen of this country is to live freely in the name of liberty, justice and the pursuit of happiness.

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answers from Dover on

I really like this question.

I think to live within your means is to live in such a way that you only spend what you have and, once the money is gone, the spending is done.

I don't think that cable, internet, cell phone, long distance....any of these things is a necessity. They are super nice to have. They are beyond convenient. But they do not add to the quality of life in such a way that, without them, a person would truly suffer so much as be bored or inconvenienced.

Affordable healthcare I believe is a right. Making sure that children and the elderly have shelter, clothing and food is a responsibility on our part and right on theirs.

Food, shelter,clothing, healthcare, work. Those are rights. Cable, not so much.

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answers from Iowa City on

Affordable healthy food, affordable shelter, affordable clothing, affordable healthcare, clean water and air and a means to obtain the same. To me, those are basic human rights.

Living within one's means: To me this is paying bills for necessities (food, clothing, shelter, etc.) and then using any leftover money to pay for wanted items/services. Spending less than you are bringing in.

A big, major problem is that minimum wage is $7.25/hour. That is a mere $15,000 per year assuming a person works 40 hours per week. Most people cannot obtain shelter, food, clothing, and healthcare on this amount of money nor can they find anything that pays more or offers more hours. It is hard for a person to live within their means if they only earn $15,000 per year. So, there either has to be government aid to those people or an actual living wage needs to be paid. And, let's be honest, even those making 200% of the federal poverty level have a though time being able to afford what I consider the basic rights stated above.

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answers from Phoenix on

I think anyone who lives paycheck to paycheck is NOT living within their means.

So, if cable has to go, then so be it....or the 2nd car, or the vacation condo, or private school, or eating out, or designer clothes.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Living within your means is quite simply: pay out less than what you take in. If you can afford cable, then yes, go ahead and get cable. But if you can't, and you get it anyway, go into debt to afford it and not be able to PAY that debt, etc, that is NOT living within your means. Having cable is NOT a human right. You may DESERVE to have cable, everyone deserves to have cable. But deserving something and yet not getting it is a harsh reality for many. I've had a tough week with my kids - I truly believe I deserve a day off and a massage. Guess what? Not gonna happen.

Unfortunately, in this economic climate, even "living within your means" is near impossible for some...

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Hey, Libby! I'm not going to spit at you!

I have posted before about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
You cannot move to the next level until you have fulfilled the previous level.
The levels are:

1.Physiological needs — they are the literal requirements for human survival. If these requirements are not met, the human body simply cannot continue to function. Air, water, and food, clothing, shelter, sex.

2. Safety needs: Personal security, financial security, Health and well-being, safety net against accidents/illness and their adverse impacts

3. Love and belonging: Friendship, intimacy, family

4. Esteem - Lower and higher. The lower one is the need for the respect of others, the need for status, recognition, fame, prestige, and attention. The higher one is the need for self-respect, the need for strength, competence, mastery, self-confidence, independence and freedom. The latter one ranks higher because it rests more on inner competence won through experience.

5. Self-actualization "“What a man can be, he must be.”

Now, for your within one's means....
If someone is in Physiological needs, they aren't worry about cable tv! They're looking for food, shelter, basic clothing, etc.
As Level 2 is approached and an income is obtained, stability of life established, people have to figure out what is and what is not important to delegate resources toward: light bill-yes! purse-no! This is the time when people need insurance. Health insurance, car insurance, etc. Because it will not take "much" to be bumped back to looking for food, as in Level One!

To briefly answer your question, no, I don't think Cable TV is a thing that everyone "deserves" to have. It's nice to have, I enjoy having it, but it is a luxury that must be paid for. So, I guess if someone has the resources for the service of cable tv, and it's not jeopardizing their food, shelter, security or safety of their family, then I guess they can "afford it" and should get it if they want it.

What "living within MY means" at this stage of my life means is that we pay all of our bills on time or early (usually), we use money we have to purchase things we need or want. We don't use money we don't have yet for that (a.k.a. credit) . We can also invest and save some money. Would I sign up for a $100/month service today for something if it meant I could not then save ANY money per month? No. I consider saving something to be a part of living within my means at this particular phase in my life!
Oh--the keeping up with the Jones' people? They're stuck in the lower phase of Level 4.
More self-actualized people tend to consider "giving" almost like a bill-something they "do" because it is who they are!
Moving through the pyramid is done by everyone on some level. Some are doing on 10K per year, some are doing it on 300K per year, but there is always trending to the next level. That might mean "giving" an apple to the homeless guy on the corner or donating a wing of a hospital.
My point is that the pyramid does not imply wealth as you proceed level to level.
And there are plenty of people living paycheck to paycheck that ARE living within their means. They have already cut every possible bit of "fat" from that budget!

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answers from Salinas on

Almost all industrialized countries cover healthcare and education costs for their citizens. Those are two very important factors that determine the success of a civilation as a whole. If a family making minimum wage (or even 2 or 3 times that) cannot pay for those two things while still "living within their means" in other areas then the future of most of the country is in peril.
I am sick to death of hearing how people should not have cable or a phone in order to live within their means. Those choices were not necessary for the average working American 30 years ago, why should they be now? How many people can squeak by with the tiny luxuries of eating out once every few months, or buying a few Christmas presents but could never afford the $1,000 per month for health insurance?
How many students are faced with massive debt in their youth in order to try to get ahead and become part of the class of people in this country that can afford the extras? Are they supposed to "live within their means too" That sounds an awful lot like some kind of caste system to me. Don't take on any debt and live above your means, but if you don't you will never rise above your current status.
Most other Western countries pay for their citizens higher education as well as pay their primary teachers higher salaries. Because they know that's how you build and retain and strong population.
The tax cuts for the most wealthy have got to go, why should they not have to share some of this pain and sacrifice? The top 1% has no trouble living within thier means, wants for nothing and continues to acquire more wealth, why do they deserve to keep benefiting from tax breaks when the USA is in this awful situation? Where is their patriotism, what about all that flag waving and American Dream stuff?
I think it's time WE ALL made sacrifices, "living within your means" is a relative term.

Interesting article below about what I'm saying, it's very short so if someone decides they don't have time to read it then I'd guess they don't really care enough either way.

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answers from Dallas on

If someone is living within their means, they can give a tithe (doesn't have to be a church) and put 10 % of the paycheck into savings then have enough left for all bills and necessities. Cable tv, x boxes, smart phones, etc. are not necessities.

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answers from San Francisco on

What does living within your means have to do with the occupy movement? Isn't it about financial equity?

But 99% includes people who can live comfortably within their means, iphones and all. I thought Occupy was addressing the oligarchy in our country. As far as questioning whether people need to "live within their means"... over half our country has or will live below the poverty line, that's $22,350 a year for a family of 4. That is impossible to live on (at least here in San Jose). Economic mobility needs to be addressed. I don't think the movement is about proving our problems with poverty - it's about addressing the problems with the super rich. Don't let them turn the conversation around on you!

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answers from Seattle on

I like Jen's answer. Heat, food, shelter, healthcare, and education.

I also think a vehicle is necessary for some. Not a nice vehicle (maybe a beater that's 10+ years old), but a vehicle.

I also think a phone is necessary for most. Either a very cheap pay-as-you-go cell phone or a landline seems reasonable.

And many of us use credit cards and pay off the balance monthly. So, not using credit cards is not a real answer. Not "needing" to use credit cards for purchases is another. I use mine for convenience, not need. I realize that I am pretty lucky at this time, considering our overall economy.

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answers from Chicago on

Libby, come one this is a ridiculous question. The man that asked this was being sarcastic, he knows the answer. I would expect this question to be sincere if it was from a 10 yr old but not from an adult.

BTW we don't have cable because it's a luxury with a high price tag.

Basic necessities are:


Things that are NOT basic necessities:

*designer clothes
*cell phone
*house phone
*manicures/fake nails
*money for movies
*beer money

look at a third world country & compare our poorest to the people over there, now that's putting it into perspective

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answers from Dallas on

I agree with P S 100%. That is exactly what "living within your means means" to me.

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answers from St. Louis on

It is an interesting question. Living within your means to me means not using credit cards except for a catastrophic emergency. That means saving for emergencies. Sometimes there are things you just can't plan for, sure using credit for that is okay just like credit for something as huge as a house is okay.

Trips to Disneyland are not emergencies, ya know?

This is just an observation from my life but I have always lived within my means. This meant my kids didn't have the trips that their friends did. We didn't have the in ground pool or hot tubs that their friends did. Now that credit has been taken away from a lot of people that were not living within their means some of my kid's friend's families are looking at me and thinking they deserve the things I can still afford.

That is just crazy to me. I would look at their homes and think how nice it would be but not worth the debt. Now they look at me with what I have had all along and think it isn't fair that I have what I have????

Have Mr Tea Party explain that one to me because I don't get it!

So is cable a right, no, is it a luxury, well that depends on whether you can feed and shelter your family and still have money for cable.

I think there has grown this crazy mindset that if most people have something it becomes a right. I believe that if even a small number of people can still live without something it is not a right. If you can choose to not have it, it is not a human right. No one chooses to starve, no one chooses to be homeless, okay may a few wilderness types but..... You choose to have cable, you choose to have a cell phone, you choose to have a car and you do choose what level of insurance you need. Basic health insurance is a right, all the bells and whistles that come with a price are a luxury.

We need to get back to that to live within our means.

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answers from Birmingham on

I agree with almost everyone that has replied. I just wanted to add that if you are living within your means, you don't need a credit card. Keeping one around in case of emergencies is one thing, using them regularly is another. We cut ours up years ago and have never looked back. Thank you Dave Ramsey.

Something has happened along the way that has made people's mindsets change. They no longer seem as grateful for the things that we have or are given to us. They seem to feel more entitled to have all that they want. Those that are living within their means that still need help with covering their human rights (insurance, food, housing, etc) should be able to ask for assistance and receive it without anyone batting an eye or giving them grief. It is those with the aforementioned mindset that have made it harder for those with true needs to ask without fearing the judgement that is waiting them.

Now, I have a question for you. I mean this sincerely with zero sarcasm: Those that are occupying Wall Street or other areas...Have they quit their jobs, unemployed, or what? They seem to be educated and passionate people... I just wonder how they are able to protest and pay their bills. We have about 10 protesters here and I have wondered this as I drive past them. Again, this is a serious question that I have not had answered by watching the news.

EDIT: Thank you for answering my question! I love the sense of spirit that it takes to truly stand up for something that you believe in. BUT, I really wish there were more people that were occupying the Capital in DC. They are the ones that voted on the bail out. THEY are the ones that need to be looking at the faces of those that were affected.

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answers from Portland on

There's a SNL sketch from a few years ago I really like. The basic message is "if you don't have money, don't buy stuff".

We have made some choices regarding how we spend our money that we are happy with. We do 'without' some things (cable, a second car, gadgets) so that we can have the quality of life we do desire in other areas (good food, high-quality preschool for Kiddo). The only debt we carry is medical bills and our up-to-date mortgage. We knew we could only afford one child, so we took measures to see that we won't get pregnant again. We don't purchase things on credit unless we can see a way to pay them off within the month so we aren't carrying a balance over. The only exception to this is medical necessity. And then, when we do carry a debt, we make adjustments so that we can pay it off as quickly as possible.

In regard to human rights, I will leave that the UN Charter. They did a great job on it.:)

In regard to Occupy, I don't think that is a topic which need be fought over. I have visited the Portland camp myself (we took food down), before it was evicted. This group is bringing up a lot of social justice issues, and the Occupations are certainly inconvenient to many, however, I do not relish the idea of this economic disparity going unnoticed or continuing. These are conversations we need to be having as a country. They aren't always pleasant. But when I have friends who live in foreclosed homes who are hardworking, "never-turn-down-a-job-no-matter-how-crappy" people, I can't begin to think it's a bunch of lazy people expecting a handout. It's time to hold the powers that be accountable for their decisions to choose their profit over the livelihoods of the many. For all the people who can't afford college, health care, or their next meal, the Occupation is speaking for them, because we've been blaming the poor for far too long already. I'm not saying their isn't a culture of poverty which complicates things: it does, and I have seen this in my own family. However, when people who hold nearly absolute power and sway over the country choose not to live within what most of us consider reasonable limits, it is time to look further that blaming the poor. When our politicians choose to favor those who have plenty--and continue to make things easier for only that population, we need to question this.

Regarding the perceived "hypocrisy" of the Occupiers: they are speaking for a group of people who have been so marginalized as to have no voice. I'm truly hoping they can continue to draw the middle class into this discussion. It is precisely this support from the 'haves' that is so important. Just as the Civil Rights movement gained more traction from people who were not being oppressed and discriminated against speaking out, the Occupy movement does better not to be seen as a bunch of disenfrancised action junkies, but instead a collective voice of intelligent people who do work and contribute to the betterment of this society, and who have a stake because they care enough to get active in the process.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Buy a car you can afford.
Buy a house you can afford.
Don't go on vacation if it goes on your credit cards.
Cut back if you need to.

Cable is not a necessity, an IPHONE is NOT a necessity. A flat screen tv is not a necessity. High speed internet is not a necessity.

Heat, food, shelter, healthcare, and education. These things are necessary to survive in our world. Everyone deserves these things.

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answers from Savannah on

BLAH. My answer was too long and rambling. And the more I thought about it, the more worked up I got. So.....just gonna delete.
Short answer: do you have the means ($$$) to maintain your lifestyle? If you have the $, you are in your means, regardless of whether someone else has the $ or not. If you don't have the money, you are not within your means. Plain and simple. Credit cards shouldn't come into the answer at all. Debt is a problem, but the method that you pay for things is not....unless you can't handle it. We use credit cards for easy tracking, easy to see if someone stole from me (cash, would just be gone), and 2% of everything I spend goes to the kids 529 plan. That's free money. I'm not in debt, except an affordable mortgage. We are able to tithe, save, and donate on top of maintaining our lifestyle. Whether I have an iphone (I don't) or not, or whether I have cable (I do) or not shouldn't even be a factor. If you tithe, save, pay bills, and donate to some cause that's on your heart, you're good. If you are stressing out, you need to make changes. That's as short as I can get it.

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