The top photo is a house fairly similar to the one I’ve owned for almost five years. The bottom is a photo of a house that our salary could qualify us for. . What makes them different? Debt. . It’s myself, my husband, and our dog. We will never need more LIVING space than we have right now, if we are being honest. . Our mortgage payment is about half of our actual payment capabilities, but we also have the ability to have this house paid off in 7 years, whereas the house our monthly payment can afford wouldn’t be paid off until I was about to retire (I’m 26). That’s also assuming we never moved again, and our income never hiccuped or dropped for three decades through multiple economy cycles. . For me, living within my means actually means living BELOW my means. If I have $10 and I spend $10, I’m broke. If I have $10 and I spend $5, I still have money. . Don’t get me wrong, every single day society makes me feel like I need the bigger house to be happy. However, society doesn’t make my mortgage payments. I do. . And living below my ability means I can do fun stuff like travel, donate, and make memories. . Experts say to spend no more than 33% of your salary on housing. We pay 16%. How much of your monthly salary is tied up in your rent or mortgage payment?