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Everyday Cheapskate: Would a boatload of money help?

If you’re holding out for the life you love to magically appear once a boatload of money gets dumped into your lap, don’t count on it.

You may believe in your heart that winning the lottery or getting an unexpected inheritance some day will make your life perfect. Perhaps you’re convinced that getting in on the ground floor of the latest and greatest multilevel marketing opportunity will make you rich overnight. That won’t happen.

If you can figure a way to get that kind of money, good for you. But if you think money alone — and plenty of it — will give you the life you love, forget it. Money alone, no matter how much of it flows through your life, will not automatically materialize into the life you love.

More money will only enhance your current situation. If you’re in debt now, more money will only put you deeper into debt. If there’s never any money left at the end of the month, more money is not going to change that. How can that be? Because you will use wit as a down payment on something bigger and better and even more opulent. Or you’ll spend your brains out even faster than you do now. Money will not change your behavior.

At my worst, when my husband was making a fabulous salary (which I could always outspend, by the way), I didn’t see a $5,000 annual raise as money that could make our lives better. I saw it as a down payment on a new Cadillac. That particular raise (there were many) put us deeper into the financial pit of despair.

In a previous column, I challenged you to do something about your debt. Getting out of debt is going to require you to cut your expenses and find ways to do things frugally.

You may be fearful that reducing your spending or not relying on credit to get by will force you to live a life you hate. That’s a real fear, one with which I can identify. After all, if you’ve never consciously worked at living below your means, the fear of becoming a penny-pinching miser may give you the creeps.

Or if you aren’t happy with your life, you may be dreaming about what it would be like to really love your life. You know it’s out there, you can imagine what it will be like, but it is forever out of reach. No matter how hard you try or how fast you go, you cannot quite grab onto it. You believe that what stands between you and the life you love is more money. That is probably not the case at all.

Whether you fear losing the life you love or only dream of living it, here’s the bottom line: You need to learn how to live on 80 percent of your net income. You have to cap your spending at 80 percent of the money you bring home, no matter what. Make it a habit as fundamental as stopping for red lights. Realize once and for all that if you can’t pay for it today from the money you have, then you can’t afford it.

Getting out of debt without sacrificing the life you love is all about finding cheaper ways to do things. That’s what being an everyday cheapskate is all about. It’s a way of life that changed my life, saved my marriage and gave me a future.

Mary Hunt is founder of, a personal finance member website. You can email her at mary@everyday, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.


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