I’m always in awe of people who have all the toys. These people have the latest iPod, the newest big screen TV, and that Wii thing. These people really love their stuff, and freely talk about stuff-gathering with me at work. It’s kinda funny how these same people also have lines of credit, maxed-out credit cards, and no money left after pay day.

I must be weird. I don’t have lines of credit, maxed-out credit cards, and most of my paycheck goes directly into savings. I do have nice things though. I purchased new furniture this year, I participate in an expensive sport, and I have a stunning diamond ring.

credit card debt

So why am I worth six-figures while others shuffle debt?

Do I have a lucrative job? Nope. I make an average salary for my age group, according to the November 2007 issue of MoneySense Magazine.

Did I win the lottery or inherit buckets of money? Nope. I’ve never played the lottery, and my family is alive and well. Although I have been promised a pretty set of china tea cups from my grandmother.

Did I play the stock market and strike it rich on a flashy investment? Nope. I’ve invested small portions of money slowly over time. I invest in index funds and ETFs. I’m pretty boring about investing, actually.

Do I own a house, condo, or other real estate? Nope. I am a renter and have been renting for well over a decade.

So, how did I get to be worth six-figures and still afford some nice stuff? It’s pretty simple really, here’s how:

1. Rent:

I am a proud renter. I don’t pay condo fees, mortgage interest, or maintenance. I save the money that would otherwise go towards mortgage interest and invest it. My rent is 1K a month. In the past six years real estate has gone bonkers in terms of pricing. Renting has been the better dealio after running my the Rent Vs. Own numbers in my city of residence. With so many people up to their eyeballs in mortgage debt, I feel pretty good with having growing (and diversified) investments.

2. Live below your means:

Everyone always says to live below your means…but I don’t think people really get it. Living below your means requires one to spend far less than what they earn.

3. Track the moolah:

I figure if you’re going to live below your means, you’ve really got to know what your means entail. You’ve got to track the money flow. I use Quicken, and I track every penny. Yes, EVERY PENNY.

4. Don’t buy it today:

Most people have a hard time delaying gratification. They want the latest and greatest “thing” now, today, pronto! By delaying gratification and not buying the hot new toy today, I save lots of money by buying used or discounted items tomorrow. It’s amazing how prices of gadgets and stuff drop after a few months on the market.

5. Buy used:

I tend to buy lots of used stuff. My dining room furniture was purchased used from craigslist.com. I’ve also purchased used sporting equipment from kijiji.ca. My sister also bought baby goods and maternity clothing used from these sites. Buying used saves A LOT of moolah! Do yourself a huge financial favour by browsing Buy and Sell lists before hitting the shops.

6. Don’t buy crap:

The best way to avoid debt is to stop buying crap. Most of the stuff out there is crap. Crap doesn’t hold it’s value. Crap takes up space. Crap is stuff you use a few times and put it aside in favor of the next crappy purchase. Crap is bought to perhaps help feel emotionally better one day, fill a short-term desire, or as an unplanned splurge. Crap costs you money. Avoid crap.

7. Move the moolah:

This is really simple. Every time I get paid, I move a portion of my moolah to a savings or investment account. I move my moolah every pay, without fail. Some people call this “automatic savings”. I just call it common sense. I figure, why I am working so many hours if I have nothing to show for it at the end of the week! Moving my moolah every pay is the significant reason why I am finally sound.

8. Get rich (and skinny) by brown bagging lunch:

I bring my lunch to work everyday. I figure the average lunch costs about $10. Doing the math, $10 X 5 day = $50 bucks. Doing more math, this is $200 bucks a month! The yearly total is: $2,400 for just lunch! OUCH. Besides, eating out can be pretty unhealthy. I find that bringing my lunch everyday not only saves me big bucks, but I can control the healthfulness of the food I eat. So yes, I get rich and skinny at the same time.

9. Make dinner at home:

This is really a continuation of item #8. I tend to plan my dinners weekly every Sunday and prepare LOTS of leftovers. I then use the leftovers for my weekly dinners and some lunches. I save HUGE money, lots of time, and stay skinny!

10. Bike to work:

I don’t own a car. I haven’t owned a car in over 12 years. Biking to work everyday makes me wealthy and skinny at the same time. It’s kinda funny how all the free and inexpensive forms of transportation can make you slim and rich. If you live in a city with good transportation it’s pretty easy to ditch your car and take transit, or better yet, ride your bike!

I have a feeling I will be adding to this list over time. I have many tricks for saving money and keeping healthy. What are your tips?