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Earning More Vs. Spending Less, Round 1: Housing





Spending less than you earn can be accomplished by earning more, spending less, or both. Yet most people on the PF world tend to support one strategy over the other with greater fervor.  It's not a logic thing: it's a personality issue that may have to do with risk tolerance, optimism, entrepreneurship, class background, religious outlook, cultural practices, and other unknown factors.

Sometimes this can be situational. When work doesn't deliver one might focus more on cost-cutting. When the economy grows, we might try to increase our profits and incur lifestyle inflation.  Some personalities will do the reverse, however: look for opportunities in bad times, save for a rainy day in good times. We're all different, and that's a good thing.

PF advice varies the same way. On one end you're told you should be a “winner” and amass millions. On the other end you're guilted into joining the frugal/minimalist movement so you can retire early, reduce your environmental footprint, and travel the tropics for a dollar a day.

I'm currently working on a series of articles where I'll examine these opposing viewpoints as they apply to real-life situations (mine in the article, yours in the comments). This first installment is about housing.

Starting from balance

The Nerdez family spends 26% of their take-home pay in housing, including renter's insurance and basic utilities.  In total, we spend less than we earn. Our money (actually I should say “our cash flow”) is “in balance,” per the Balanced Money Formula: 50% covers our needs and contracts, 30% is for our wants (fun stuff, like restaurants or new clothes,) and 20% goes to savings and debt repayment. We have a small emergency fund, and we even have a little debt snowball that's rolling at a manageable pace.

After years of severe austerity, this feels good and right and safe.

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