I have made the case throughout this book that the key to a healthy and fulfilling life is not to aim to become “rich” but to simply make sure your cash inflows match your cash outflows during your working and retirement years.
During your working years, that means you have to control your spending so that you spend less than your after-tax income or your take-home pay. This is the hard part. It is even hard for most people to determine if they even are spending more than they make.
In the old days, when credit cards and debt instruments such as lines of credit were not so freely available, people's spending was automatically controlled. You could not physically spend more than you had in your bank account. That is not the case today. There are many people who spend much more than they earn each year—by running up their credit cards and lines of credit. If you are one of them, and can't pay off your credit card and have a line of credit that goes nowhere but up, take a deep breath and resolve to change your habits. If you don't, you are on the way to almost certain personal financial disaster, sooner or later.
You need to take control and live life within your means during your working years to give yourself a chance of contentment during your retirement years. If you are already retired, the best time to start taking control of your cash inflows and outflows was in the past. The second best time is today.