Life can be expensive. But “expensive” is a sliding scale that depends on your personal financial situation, such as income, cost of living, budget, debt, and spending habits. It’s easy to get carried away with overspending—but we’re here to help you determine the signs that you’re living beyond your means.    

8 signs you’re living beyond your means

1 – You live pay cheque to pay cheque

Almost half of Canadian employees are living paycheque to paycheque, according to the Canadian Payroll Association. This is probably the biggest tell-tale sign that you’re living beyond your means. That is, your bank account hits nearly zero at the end (or middle for biweekly payments) of every month. You’re most likely used to seeing overdraft ads in your online banking account, rather than those for savings and earning more interest with your money saved. 

2 – You carry a balance on your credit card

According to GreedyRates, the average Canadian with a credit card balance owes approximately $8,600—that is five times more than the per capita GDP of India. In other words, for those Canadians who carry a credit card balance, it tends to be hefty, with large monthly interest payments that many people could not afford to pay off. Carrying over credit card balances into the next month is a risky business. If you’re using a credit card to collect rewards and points, ensure you pay it off at the end of every month to avoid compound interest.

3 – You can’t afford to save 10-15% of your income

If you can set aside at least 5% of your monthly income to a savings plan of some kind, you might not be living beyond your means. Even better, however, is if you can afford to set aside 10-15% or even 20% of your income for emergencies, vacations, cost of living, and your near and far future. It’s always good practice to save and invest in yourself.

4 – You don’t have a monthly budget or financial plan

But, in order to save or invest your income, you need to know how much money you have, how much you make per paycheque, and how much you owe and require for your living essentials (needs, not necessarily wants). All of this requires you to make a financial plan and budget. Budgeting and planning is the key to your financial freedom. Here is one simple and great budget to follow, called the 50/30/20 rule. It is essential for moving past living beyond your means.

Spend some time getting to know your personal finances and continue to do so throughout the year to ensure you’re on a budget. 

5 – You don’t have an emergency fund

God forbid anything should happen to you or your loved ones, but healthcare emergencies, as just an example, do arise. Often at the worst of times. To ensure you’re ready and prepared in case an emergency should come up, start by saving $1,000 in an emergency fund and add little by little to it every month or year.

6 – You pay off vacations for several months after coming home

You should always save for vacations and fun adventures, rather than pay it off later. If you’re going on a trip that you really can’t afford right now, perhaps this is a sign that you’re living beyond your means. Set aside a percentage of your income for emergencies, long-term savings, and short-term savings, such as vacations. When the time comes for a trip, you’ll be glad that you paid it all off in full before it began—so you can truly relax without paying the consequences over the next year with interest. 

7 – You worry about money whenever you buy something

Let’s face it. Life costs money. You’ll always owe money for bills, groceries, rent, mortgages, loans, car payments, interest, shopping, education, and so on. 

The issue arises when you feel stressed or guilty about spending any amount of money, even on groceries. That’s a tell-tale sign that you’re living beyond your means—and that it’s time to take a look at your income and spending and make a plan. Once you know how much you can afford to spend every month on certain items, then relax a bit, knowing that you’ve budgeted for it and can afford it. Anything over your allocated budget, you’ll want to reign in. 

8 –Your credit score is going from bad to worse

Your credit score is a tell-tale sign that you are living beyond your means. If you carry a credit card balance, can’t pay off the minimum monthly payments, and owe on multiple loans, for example, your credit score will start to be negatively affected. This could open up all kinds of challenges for you as you apply for new jobs, apply for mortgages and loans, and so on. 

If this is your reality, perhaps it’s time to connect with financial advisors who can help get you out of debt and improve your credit. Learn more about how Progressa can help

Tags : debt managementfinancial planningpersonal finance
Sam Milbrath

The author Sam Milbrath

Sam Milbrath is a freelance copywriter and brand marketer. When she isn’t writing for brands or doing her own creative writing, she’s exploring, taking photographs, gardening and doing pottery. Check out her work at