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Or in other words, Why picking sides between spending less or earning more isn’t thinking of the full picture.
Gaps are important. Write that down and say it three times! Haha. It’s true, though. Gaps are important and they’re talked about all the time. Usually, it’s with emergency funds (growing the gap between bank account zero and a few months of expenses).
In terms of building actual wealth? It’s so important. When it comes to your unique money management, what is best? Spend less or earn more? How about neither? Let me explain.
There is a rifle debate in the personal finance world of whether to focus on cutting back and spending less or, on the flip side, earning more. In fact, when you get on the path to being better with your money, the first step mentioned by several financial blogs, podcasts, and people is to comb through your monthly expenses and see where to cut back.
Cut the cable subscription, cut down on eating out, stop getting lattes, and stop going out and spending so much on entertainment. There is even extreme tips about cutting out all junk food, cell phone service, TV, downsizing to just one car, foregoing all fun and letting your soul die…(<—maybe not that last one).
You might balk at the tips and think about how you don’t want to do without certain things because you want to enjoy life. But then you read crazy inspiring stories about people who have paid off mountains of debt. Ahhh, those “person paid off [insert crazy amount] of debt in [insert a super small amount of time]” stories everyone loves to read.
The people who have paid off the debt talk about how they cut out a lot of their expenses and lived minimally. They detail how doing without cable and kicking their latte habit were the big reasons they don’t have the debt monkey on their back anymore. You read the stories, while sipping with your *bomb-tastic* delicious Starbucks mocha, and think about how you need to give up monthly indulgences. The thought sounds blasphemous. You look down at your latte and whisper “I’ll never let you go” a la Titanic-style.
Switching between browser tabs, you stumble upon the other side of personal finance: earning more. The blogs tell you like some sort of fantasy fairy godmother that earning more is the more important side to focus. After all, there is only so much you can cut back on. Earning more is infinite!
As it turns out, earning more money doesn’t have to be something solely achieved through promotions at work or getting a higher-paying job. There are lots of different money making opportunities. Some of them require going on and getting extra part-time work. Others are about making money online.
So which one is better to focus on? Spending less or earning more? It’s neither and here’s why. Size matters.
When it comes to money management and reaching your financial goals, it’s all about growing the gap.
What is the gap?
The gap between what you earn and what you spend. You want to grow this area as much as possible. Pay attention to it, treat it like a precious little puppy and help it grow. Growing it will help you reach your financial goals faster.
And let’s be honest, most people, especially twenty-somethings, have lots of savings goals they want to hit. There are weddings to save up for, other people’s weddings to save up for, a three to six-month emergency fund, house downpayment, travel fund, personal development, and more.
It’s important to tend to both sides to increase the gap. There are always ways to cut back even if you’re frugal and there are always money-making opportunities to be done.
I used to dismiss the whole “spend less, cut expenses” advice of personal finance. I thought I was good with money. Back when I was working my first job entry-level job out of college, I thought I was a pretty frugal person. I didn’t have a car payment, I didn’t buy lots of clothes and go out a lot. With my entry-level wage, I thought I was saving all I needed to save. It wasn’t until I started more closely tracking my spending and doing no-spend challenges, did I realize that there was usually room to cut back.
Being more conscious with grocery shopping, I was able to cut my food budget further. For my cellphone, I got a slightly cheaper provider. Even on an entry-level wage, not making a lot of money, there were still areas I was able to cut back in.
Since I’ve gone through the cutting expenses part, my focus lately has been on giving some TLC to the other side: earning more. Because, as mentioned earlier, there is unlimited potential when it comes to earning more. I like that and I’m sure you do too.
It’s all about growing the gap. Stretch each side as much as you can! It’s a journey that requires tenacity. I’ll be keeping you updated on how it progresses for me.
How do you go about growing the gap between what you spend and what you earn?