March 8, 2024

18 Steps To Live Below Your Means Without Sacrificing Too Much

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Are you tired of living below your means and sacrificing everything you enjoy in an attempt to save money for the “good life”? It’s not fun.

Most of the frugality tips out there make you feel like you’re living life on a string budget, and for what?

A few extra dollars in thirty or forty years? But, it doesn’t need to be that way. You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars a month on coffee, but you also don’t need to give up that latte for good.

There are alternatives to the life of an ascetic. There are ways to enjoy yourself and splurge every now and then without breaking the bank.

The secret is in clever, customized frugality which means to live below your means without sacrificing too much.

Small changes - things that won’t upset your quality of life or force you to give up on the things you really enjoy.

These are the strategies that will allow you to save HUGE piles of money without becoming miserable in the process.

Ready to make the move and start really saving some cash and at the same time live below your means too? Here are 18 money saving tips to live below your means.

#1. First Know Exactly Where Is Your Money Going?

First up, and probably the single toughest thing you’ll do, is figure out where all that money is going.

What exactly are you spending so much money every month? Where does the missing $2,000 a month go, even when you carefully write down every little expense? 

Do you have trouble with cash in your pocket? Does every dollar bill you take out of the ATM disappear seemingly overnight? It’s a problem. A big problem.

Now is the time to sit down and figure out exactly what happens to every penny you spend each month. That may sound relatively simple, but you’ll soon find that money is a fickle creature.

If you don’t already have a checkbook with a ledger accounting for every expense, you’re probably just spit balling things.

That’s the first habit we need to quash. We need data. Real, hard data that will tell us exactly where your money goes and how to start cutting expenses with your scalpel of frugality.

Here’s how to do it precisely to live below your means.

#2. Setup a Tracking Tool to Save Money.

This can be online software like or offline software like Quicken, or it could simply be your checkbook’s ledger (ah, the days before technology). 

Whatever it is, we want every single expense written down somewhere. Yup, there will be homework.

#3. Categorize Everything To Live Below Your Means.

Separate expenses into multiple categories. The easy ones are “bills”, “necessities”, and “everything else”.

Bills tend to be roughly the same every month – easy to budget.

Necessities are food, clothes, toiletries, and gas – stuff you need but at varying costs. Everything else is stuff you can trim down on like lattes, trips to the movies or new shoes.

#4. Create a Flash Budget.

I always recommend a flash budget at the start, a quick overview of what you spend to get you warmed up.

In a flash budget, you make rough estimates of what you should spend each month. Be realistic here. What are you spending and what things can you easily remove right now.

Do you eat out three times a week? Cut it down to two.

Do you buy two books every week to read on the train or bus? Borrow them from a library instead. Little stuff for now. We’ll really start hacking the budget down in a month or two to save money and live below our means.

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#5. Revise Next Month.

This is where you really start clamping down on spending. After the first month following your flash budget, it’s time to adjust and see where you can save even more money.

You now know exactly where your cash is going every month. Which of course means you know exactly what don’t you need to spend it on.

Maybe you take the tunnel to work instead of the bridge and pay an extra $80 a week in tolls. Maybe you buy name brand cereal instead of the cheap stuff and spend an extra $50 a month. This stuff is always small, but it adds up super-fast.

Budgeting isn’t easy. It takes consistency and a willingness to make sacrifices, but it’s by far the most important first step if you ever plan on saving yourself a little cash for the future.

#6. The Myth about “Just a Little Extra”.

I can’t wrap my head around this one, but I hear it all the time. The “just a little extra” or “I deserve a treat” mentality is killing budgets left, right and sideways out there.

If you’re a culprit, read carefully because this is the first thing you need to stop.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s good to give yourself a small reward every now and then.

I don’t want you to live the life of an ascetic any more than I want to live it myself. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed, not cloistered away in a room counting pennies. But, everyone does it so wrong.

When you want a little something extra for yourself, you should plan for it. You should set goals and plan for the expense. Here’s a great way to do that. Place a 5% buffer in your budget for overages.

If you don’t go over your budget in any of your budget categories, there’s a whopping 5% of your income sitting there waiting for you to buy a new pair of shoes, go to the movies or have a nice night out with your spouse.

That’s a good “little extra” because you planned for it and the money was actually there after your expenses.

Now, in contrast, let’s take a look at how most people spend their little extra. Instead of planning in advance and setting goals, most people get bored and decide to go shopping.

Or they’ll see something at the grocery store not on their list. The immediate thought might be “that’s not in my budget”, but almost immediately afterwards, their brain retorts “but it’s just a little extra”. And voila, money has just been wasted.

It’s a shame too because a good budget with a boat load of self-control can actually reward you with more than a poorly managed one, because you can plan for really big stuff, instead of just flitting away your cash on coffee, sweets and clothes you don’t need.

I’m talking about vacations, new TVs, and new vehicles – really big stuff that right now you can only dream of (or, in an extreme act of irresponsible spending, put on a credit card).

So, stop looking for a “little bit extra”.

Start looking for ways to invest your “little bit” and get something “really big”!

#7. Ten Things You’re Doing Right Now That Aren’t Necessary.

Living below your means and frugality is a tough concept for some people. They like what they like and they work hard, so they feel like they deserve the good stuff.

But, there are so many things in your life right now that you just don’t need to spend money on. It’s a waste.

You’re spending hundreds of dollars a month on little things that don’t necessarily make you happy – they’re just easy and so you don’t keep buying them.

To make your life easier and ensure you get the most out of every dime you set aside, here are 10 things you can do to cut spending without cutting into your lifestyle:

#8. Plan Meals To Live Below Your Means. 

Easy, easy, easy! Just sit down once a week with your family and plan the meals for the week. Look for ways to reuse staples and leftovers.

For example, you can have spaghetti on Tuesday and then use the leftover sauce to make a lasagna or casserole on Wednesday - no wasted sauce and less cooking, too.

#9. Go Plain When Out of the House. To Save Money.

Shocked by the $10 you spent on a latte at Starbucks the other day? Go plain. 

You can get a $5 cup of coffee and pour milk or creamer in from the bar. Easy as that, you just saved $5. Find ways to cut back on your treats to save a few dollars – it will add up fast.

#10. Cut Down on Your Phone Lines To Save Money.

I was at a friend’s house the other day and she had FIVE phone lines. A land line, a cell phone, a business cell phone, and two for emergencies when children left the house.

Cut the landline, cut the business line and scale back those pricey data and text messaging plans. We’re talking hundreds of dollars a year here.

#11. Stop Buying Quickly To Live Below Your Means.

It’s tempting to just hurry up and buy a new car, refrigerator or washing machine, but you could be wasting hundreds of dollars by rushing your purchase. Get online and do your research!

You’ll be shocked to find that the best is not always the most expensive.

In fact, the 30 day rule can save you BIG here. Wait exactly 30 days after you decide you “need” something and ask if you still need it.

Sometimes, the urgency dies and you realize it was only an impulse. If not, you now have all the research you need to make an informed purchase instead of rushing it.

#12. Collecting is an Addiction.

I’ll be honest - I have my own share of borderline OCD collections, but these can really kill your budget. Spoons? Porcelain? Baseball Cards?

They may be fun to collect and cool to show off, but they drain money like a sieve.

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#13. Drink Only Water To Save Money.

I love this one because it’s healthy and fiscally responsible.

Water is the core of a healthy diet, plus it also helps you cut down on your budget for sugary drinks - and you wind up eating fewer snacks when you drink water regularly. Yup, most so called “munchies” are just your body trying to tell you it’s thirsty.

#14. Don’t Buy Entertainment.

I love movies and I read voraciously, but I don’t buy DVDs or books when I can help it.

I have a nice collection of gifts I’ve received but there isn’t a cent in my budget for them.

Why should I when there are fantastic local libraries and online services like Paper Back Swap where I can trade my old stuff for exciting new (to me) books from other frugal thinkers.

#15. Avoid Pay-Per-Relax.

One of the number one “it’s just a little bit” moments I see is for relaxation items like chocolate, wine, magazines, or takeout meals.

Yeah, these things can help melt away a long day of stress at work, but they also eat your budget. Instead, find ways to relax with your children, a book, or meditation in your backyard.

#16. Membership Drains.

I took a look through my credit card statement a couple years ago and found that I was paying for an unused Netflix account, a local gym, and a pair of membership forums I hadn’t logged into in months.

The total? $235 per month! Check your accounts for recurring charges that you don’t use and don’t need. The savings might shock you.

#17. Paying to Entertain Your Family.

It may seem like a full time job to keep your kids from saying “I’m bored” every five minutes, and the more you spend, the more you hear it, but it doesn’t need to be like that.

Check out free local stuff like parks, pools, beaches, and libraries.

Spend time showing them how to paint or draw. Get them outside to play. Kids don’t need video game and pricey toys to stay busy – they just want you to think they do.

#18. Get Creative To Save Money And Live Below Your Means.

Frugality doesn’t mean tacky, cheap life decisions that will make you a laughing stock to your friends. You don’t need to split the ply on your toilet paper, flip your own compost or turn milk jugs into lamps to be frugal.

You just need to be clever and creative and find ways to replace your common expenses with equally pleasing options that cost you much less.

In fact, I’ll bet you have a BLAST finding ways to replace the pricier aspects of your budget with fun, low cost or free alternatives.

So, get out there, start planning and most of all, have fun doing it. In no time flat, you’ll save money and start enjoying the finer things that life has to offer without going broke in the process.

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Manish Yadav

My name is Manish Yadav and I’m the owner of the blog "Love Finds its Way". My advice does away with the manipulations and mind games recommended by magazines and the surface level advice of TV gurus… We’ll dive DEEP to you actionable steps you can use today. Over 900,000 men & women have transformed their lives, and I've been featured in Lifehack, Return of Kings, Menimprovement, Urban Dater, and so on...
...My only intention is to help you have all of achieve your dreams and desires and live a beautiful and prosperous life.
And we’re just getting started!

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