How to tell if you're living beyond your means
Somewhere in our money culture, in the way North American consumers behave, appears to lie an unshakeable desire to spend what isn't ours.
Some figures are stirring: Canadians and Americans tend to put much more on their credit cards -- the most active method of day-to-day loan-taking -- than almost anyone else in the world.
Not me, you might say. I'm responsible with my money. I don't spend beyond my means.
Don't you? Take a look at these key points to determine whether or not you are living outside your financial comfort zone.
Personal finance site Mint.com often comes up with great features, and its latest "signs you're spending too much, stupid" rundown surely fits the bill.
*Bing: How to rein in your spending
Mint came up with seven ways to tell if you're living beyond your means, a tough-to-define set of circumstances that's kind of like pornography: you just know it when you see it.
What to look for? Here are seven ways, per Mint:
1) You couldn't live without your job's income for at least six months: The old "emergency fund" argument, but with an add-on. Standard workers need six months' income in the bank to be safe; self-employed workers should have 12 months' income saved up.
2) You vacation on credit: Credit for groceries? Sure. A week-long vacation that takes you more than seven days to pay off? No.
3) You only consider monthly payments when buying a car: Mint says to live by a simple formula when purchasing a new ride. If the loan you're getting is longer than three years and doesn't result in you owning the car outright at the end of 36 months, you're probably outside your budget.
4) You've arrived at the home you can afford based on a 30-year fixed mortgage: 30 years' worth of house payments can mean six-figures worth of interest payments over the course of the loan. Go shorter -- 15 years, say -- or aim for a cheaper home.
5) You've paid an overdraft fee in the last 12 months: No explanation needed. If you're touching the overdraft limit, your liquid income ain't right.
6) You've exceeded your credit limit: Same principle. A limit is a limit is a limit.
7) You're in debt but you pay someone to do a job you could by yourself: A wonderful tip we rarely see given. If you're scraping the bottom of the barrel but still pay someone to do things you could do on your own -- from lawn-cutting to childcare -- it's time re-evaluate.
Disagree with anything on the above list? Tell us below.
By Jason Buckland, MSN Money