It’s Better To Want Than To Owe

“It’s better to want, than to owe.” — Andy Stanley

This little phrase is a game changer for spenders.

I was listening to Andy Stanley’s “Your Move” podcast recently and Andy talked about a simple concept when it comes to your money. Andy said, “it’s better to want than to owe.” When I heard this, I wasn’t shocked or surprised – I knew this intuitively. But there is something powerful about hearing an this idea put into a catchy phrase.

This quote means: live within your means and create more financial margin in your life. Instead of living so close to the edge of your cash flow every month, you should say “no” to more spending and stack up that money in the bank.

Here are a few of my favorite tools to help me do this:

  • 21 Days to a Better Budget (an eBook)
  • Budgeting For Budget Haters (budgeting course)
  • Budget Spreadsheets (downloadable templates)

Using these tools and believing that “it’s better to want than to owe” can seriously change your entire life.

It’s that simple (I said simple, but not easy!). That’s where the tools come in.  If you can remember this phrase and kickstart your financial life with the help of some resources, then you can get your financial life in order.

For example, if you have to go into debt to buy something, then you shouldn’t buy it. Why? Because it’s better to want than to owe. You are better off by not purchasing something and avoiding debt. You’ll be happier with the money and without more stuff.

When you think about buying something and you’re not sure whether you can afford it, remember that it’s better to want than to owe.

To put this into practice, think about your spending weakness. What is the one the one thing that you spend too much money on – the thing that makes it hard for you to resist? For me, it’s buying clothes. Get me near a mall and I’m in risky territory. Even if I’m browsing online it’s dangerous. Before you know it, I’ll buy something I didn’t plan for. That’s why I have to avoid the malls and avoid the online shopping unless it’s for specific things. That’s also why i come from a place of delayed gratification. I like to spend money.

You know what your thing is. It may be coffee (Starbucks anyone?), or it may be eating out. It will be something different for everyone — only you know what that one thing is that you spend too much money on (or are tempted to spend too much money on). This is your weakness and you should avoid it.

  • Related: How to Radically Reduce Your Expenses

You also know when you’re living paycheck to paycheck. Wouldn’t it be nice if things weren’t so tight every month? Creating financial margin isn’t easy – but whatever you can do to help yourself to get closer to financial freedom, you should do.

I have three rules that I’m living by to create more financial margin in my life, and they may just help you, too.

3 rules for creating financial margin in your life

  1. Whenever you’re tempted to buy something you can’t afford remember that it’s better to want than to owe.
  2. Avoid your weakness (because it’s just too tempting).
  3. Focus on how good it feels to have financial margin in your life (and think about how bad it feels to live paycheck to paycheck).

Wouldn’t it be nice to just breathe and not be so focused on money? The only way this is possible is for you to make better financial decisions over time. Every choice you make can bring you a little bit closer to living better.