How to Live Beneath Your Means – 5 Easy Fixes

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Living beneath your means is more than just saving money, it’s about learning how to take control of your finances and establish a base for financial freedom. Learning how to live beneath your means might be challenging at first, but it’s a quality that pays off tremendously.

When you learn this quality, you are able to handle unexpected issues better and not stress over them. Your car broke down? No worries, you’re prepared for this because you have your emergency fund. You’ve built it by living beneath your means.

Personal finance is exactly what its name implies: PERSONAL. So I know that one size never fits all when it comes to finance. Thus, I’ve constructed a list that is easy to implement for the general public, and I’ve avoided making things on this list too specific. Here are the best tips for how to live beneath your means without starving yourself from simple pleasures.

WRITE a budget

budgetI bet you saw this one coming. I know it seems obvious to many, but there are many reasons why building a budget is the best thing you can do to start on the right foot with your finances. When you make a budget, you put together a blueprint to follow. Even if you make irregular income, there are still ways to budget for it.

Aside from just budget-planning, when you write (or type) things down you’re 42% more likely to follow through on your plans, goals, or budget. This is because as humans, we process visuals 60,000 times faster than when we imagine things, based on a recent study by the 3M Company.

Writing down your budget means that you can visually see it. This is important because when we see something, it affects how we act. You’re more likely to follow through if you can see what you have to do instead of just memorizing it or thinking about it.

Writing a budget facilitates the process of keeping track of your money and knowing where it goes. Once you start tracking it, I guarantee that you’ll be shocked to see where your money went before you started your budget. This is why it’s important to write a budget.

If you don’t know where to start, I made a FREE Budget Template and provided instructions on how to use it correctly. It’s flexible so that you can take away or add the unorthodox sections that may not be available on a hardwired app.

Pay yourself first

Paying yourself first has a strong meaning that many don’t understand, and it’s a very literal meaning too. Whether it’s an upcoming vacation, a new house, retirement, or a car, paying yourself first is the fastest way to achieve any and all of those goals.

Paying yourself first means that every time that you get that paycheck, the first thing that money does is go straight into your savings or investments. If you don’t want to think about doing this every time that you get paid, then you can set up recurring automatic deposits into these accounts.

In order to do this, it’s advisable that you set up your budget first so that you don’t excessively or insufficiently pay yourself. Without your budget, it will be hard to estimate how much you can afford to pay yourself without giving up basic necessities.

A strategy I used when I first started paying myself first. For the first two months, every payday, I paid myself manually so that I could make sure that I could afford to pay myself under my current budget. I set up reminders on my phone just in case I forgot that it was payday.

Once I established how much I could afford to pay myself without giving up basic necessities, I set everything up to be automatic. Now I make sure not to add unnecessary expenses even as my income increases. This way, I am able to pay myself more automatically, and I don’t become a victim of lifestyle inflation as my income goes up.

Go out less

I know it might sound tough, but notice that I said “go out LESS,” not “stop going out.” I know that once in a while it’s fun to go out and do stuff with your friends or even by yourself. But doing this every single weekend or even more than that is simply a little bit too much.

There comes a point where doing this so often begins to burn your wallet out, so much that you won’t be able to pay yourself. Also, when you go out, following a budget isn’t typically roaming around in your head. So doing it too consistently will end up hurting you and putting you outside where you need to be with your budget.

I know sometimes plans are spontaneous and your friends might call you up to go out this weekend, but if you’re already tight on the budget this month, learn to say no. Know that you’re doing this for your own good and that if you ended up going out despite the tightness of the budget, the amount of time it takes for your wallet to recover would outweigh the amount of time you spent out on a single night.

Don’t buy things just because they’re “on-sale”

lesson on moneyDon’t fool yourself into thinking you are saving money when you buy things on sale. If you didn’t plan for it, chances are you didn’t need it. Unless it was from an emergency, in which case your emergency fund should be able to take care of it.

Other than that though, buying things you don’t need just because they’re on sale doesn’t save you money. Since you didn’t plan for it, spending money on it will take you out of where you want to be with your budget.

Be smart and be logical. Don’t make emotional purchasing decisions. Those are the ones that tend to cost the most. You made a plan, and by making exceptions it’ll turn into a domino effect that will do nothing more but make you less disciplined with your budget overall.

Don’t spend so much on eating out

I’m not just referring to nice restaurants with this point, believe it or not, those quick trips to McDonald’s really add up in just one month. If you make usual trips to McDonald’s or other fast-food restaurants and then take a look at your budget, you’ll see just how much money that eats up from your wallet.

This is money that could’ve been put into groceries that would last you weeks. Or maybe you’re building your emergency fund and this money could’ve gone in that. Or maybe you could’ve invested it and let compound interest do its magic.

My point here is that it could have been money put into something bigger, better, and for a long-term purpose, rather than for a quick meal that will be gone from your system in less than 24 hours. I understand that food is a necessity, but buying groceries is a much less expensive option.

I’m not saying to stop eating out, it’s totally fine to eat out! But anything excessive is never good. I personally make a section in my budget for eating out, but I don’t let it be a major part of my budget, nor do I let myself go over the limit in that section.

Final Words

Learning how to live beneath your means is one of the most important parts of achieving financial freedom. Although at first it might be hard, after some time you won’t only get used to it, you’ll also be happy with what you see in your bank account.

More than being frugal, I like to call those who live below their means: fiscally responsible people. By learning to live this way, you take a major barrier out of the way between you and your wealth. And building wealth is the objective for the readers on this website.

If you’re not sure whether you’re living beneath your means, check out this article to find the top 7 issues that indicate you’re living beyond your means.

Please let me know your thought and experiences in the comment section below! I’m always happy to read about what you guys have to say and I’m always replying!


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  1. Bernard Breytenbach

    I found this article as a Bible in terms how to manage money. All 5 steps are very important. If one is overlooked or not followed, it will lead to that a person has hardly money or don’t have money when it is urgently needed. Thank you for the explanations for each step into detail. Even a small child can understand and that is perfect.

    1. Happy to help 🙂

  2. One of the best and most important things I did when I lost my job was learning how to live on a friendly budget. Things that I could easily manage such as: groceries, bills, and rent; that was it. Thanks to the way that I managed to invest my money and live a comfortable life, I actually ended up saving so much money that to this day it’s still helping me get everything together just as I’ve planned in my head. 

    1. That’s awesome! I like to hear good stories like that one. Keep up the good work!

  3. I’ve done credit counseling for people who are going through bankruptcy and I’m glad that you pointed out that a personal budget is PERSONAL as different expenses are important to different people, especially in regard to entertainment.  For example, I would ask people about their cable tv bills.  Some would say that was the first thing to go when they got into financial trouble.  Just as many would say that tv was their only entertainment since they couldn’t afford to go out.  I also like the template you offer because I also find that many people underestimate their expenses until they’re asked about things like transportation expenses (gas, tolls, bus fare, etc), groceries, drive-thru coffee, etc.  Thank you for posting this great information!

    1. Absolutely Cynthia! Thank you so much for your feedback. And yes, personal finance should always be PERSONAL to the unique circumstances of each individual. Thank you so much for your feedback!

  4. You give some excellent advice here Misael, which I have been following for the last 5 years since my income stabilised. One issue that you didn’t mention was buying clothes although you did question buying something on sale. For most of my life, I have enjoyed shopping at opportunity shops. One big plus of this is saving a massive amount of money but another is that if it still looks great then it will continue looking great because it is made from quality material. 

    Many pieces of clothing bought new look horrible after the first wash, so buying them at an opp shop solves that problem. I get compliments on my clothes all the time and laugh to myself that the whole outfit only cost $20 instead of $200. No one needs to know and I enjoy my retail therapy at a fraction of the cost. I see lots of my very smart friends at these places and we nod and smile because we all know that this is a simple secret to creating wealth and living under our means.

    It gives me great pleasure to see our savings grow every month knowing that having my eye out for discounts for every purchase really does make a difference.

    1. Yes actually part of what I was referencing was clothes with that point of buying something on sale. However, I don’t think you’ve done a bad job from what you’ve explained here. I think buying quality items that last is a good thing, otherwise, you’ll be spending more money because you wanted to be cheap with what you bought. 

      I was actually just referencing things that are completely unnecessary, and yes, sometimes that could be clothes. I have plenty of friends who have TOO MUCH clothes and continue to buy more simply because there’s a sale going on!

  5. I think it all boils down to how much we do want to become debt free. Or how much we want to improve our life. When our goals are weak, our resolutions are weak too. How difficult is to cancel Netflix? But how difficult is to set aside something we really want. So, our goal must be something we want badly.

    1. I agree, there’s no way you’ll move forward in a goal if it’s not really something you want. In that case, it’s not something that you’re willing to make certain decisions or sacrifices for. Great point!

  6. These are some really good points you made in this article. I will say, I’m a huge offender of eating out way too much and just like you mentioned in the article, more often than not it always throughs my budget way off. It’s not a bad thing to do out every so often, it’s just when we do it in excess, especially if we haven’t budgeted for it, that’s when we run into trouble. 

    1. Well, it looks like you’re acknowledging the problem, and that is always the first step in fixing any problem!

  7. Hi there Misael, 

    I totally agree with you that living beneath your means is among the greatest strengths a person can have. You not only get to save money but also build self-control that spills over to other areas of your life and improves your overall life. Personally, creating and strictly following a budget even when you have a strong craving for something really goes a long way.

    1. I 100% agree. Thank you for your feedabck

  8. Hi Misael, your post here makes so much sense and anyone who follows the advice you shared here, will not easily be broke and will always have money during times of emergency. For me personally, I am still trying my best to control my own personal finance but I at least try to pay myself first, when I receive my paycheck at the end of the month, about 10% of my take-home salary, tuck into my saving investment account. Thank you for sharing Misael.

    1. Absolutely! Just remember to always save with a purpose, don’t just save to save 😉 (unless it’s an emergency fund, which would technically be a purpose)

  9. These are excellent tips on how to save money. One way of saving money for me has been through not owing a car. It’s much easier to live somewhere where it’s possible to get around on foot or with public transportation. There’s also less stress when you don’t have to worry about dealing with car repairs or with the bureaucratic aspects of owning a car.

    1. That’s certainly true, but unfortunately, the group of people that don’t really need a car is very small in the US

  10. Hi Misael, 

    I think your article about living within one’s means is a great one. It outlines 5 great strategies to save precious money when one cannot afford to waste it. 

    But in principle, I am against too much saving as a means of having more disposable wealth. What I mean is that it is better to learn some earning skills rather than saving money. In other words, learn to earn more. 



    1. I agree, but when we don’t first adjust our mentality to live below our means, the most common experience to be fulfilled is lifestyle inflation. And then, despite income going up, financial circumstances don’t improve. You may have more things, but your circumstances are not improving because you have not adjusted your mentality to live below your means

  11. Thanks for this article, Misael.

    To be fair, ‘going out less’ is a lot easier these days since going out in public still isn’t as safe as it used to be and I’ve definitely seen the improvements it made to my budget. That’s the key to spending wisely, having a solid budget so that you’re never second-guessing whether or not a purchase makes good financial sense. And so that you don’t end up doing unessessary math while trying to check out.

    1. Haha yes I agree!

  12. This is a very useful and practical post.

    It is amazing how many of us float through life never having a budget.  We just spend and hope for the best!

    But it is so important to know exactly how much you have and how much you can spend.  Making out a budget and then cutting your cloth to fit really is the only way.

    You suggest not going out so much, but I think that that might be a big turn off for many and many just couldn’t do it.  What I would suggest is that you are smarter in where you go and what your interests are.  Perhaps start going places that you won’t spend money at.  Go out walking, visit nature places etc.  You could actually end up going out more often, but spending less and therefore need to your available funds.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Geoff, thank you so much for your feedback 🙂

  13. This article got me completely! I am so bad with following my budget, in fact, I don’t follow it at all. I rather live from day to day, as this is a habit that was established before 2020. Lately, I’ve been trying to schedule everything but hm no success. Always going over the list. Even when I go grocery shopping the list extends as soon as all the items are successfully checked off lol 

    I’ll try your budget schedule.. Thanks! 

    1. Of course! Good luck!

  14. That whole, don’t buy things just because they’re on sale is key. I’m always seeing supplies things, I’m going to buy later but think I can buy it now and save later but than i just end up spending all the money I saved. I was surprised there wasn’t a savings account that you don’t have immediate access to. If I don’t want to spend money, I put it into an account, out of site out of mind and one I can’t get right way.

    1. That’s awesome! The first key is always to see the problem in the first place. And it seems like you’ve taken care of that! Keep moving forward!

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