3 Tips for Living Well Beneath Your Means
Written by: Lombe Mwansa
Published: 13 November 2022


Learn how to manage your money and prioritise your spending.

Living Well Beneath Your Means

Is living beneath your means hard? Can you live simply and still enjoy life? Read on to find out how can live a frugal life without feeling like you are missing out on the good life.

Contrary to popular belief, I think the key to financial freedom isn’t solely based on the amount of money you bring in or save each month. It’s about learning how to manage your money and prioritize your spending. This is also known as living beneath your means. 

This isn’t just another post about frugality and how you now have to suffer to secure financial freedom because I think you can live beneath your means and still enjoy life when you are smarter about what you spend your money on.

My short backstory

Before I get into my strategies let me share some lessons I have learned to get me here. 

When you are younger it was easier for me to live beyond my means because the stakes are low. The bank of mum and dad wasn’t a limitless cash vault, but I knew if everything went sideways, I would still have food to eat and a roof over my head. 

short backstory

At college, I was a scholarship student living away from home so even though I enjoyed the full experience of college life I had to juggle various priorities and commitments. Having a scholarship was a safety net but it also meant that even though my friends and I went out partying till 3 am I would have to get up at 7 am and get ready for class because poor academic performance would be the end of my scholarship.

As I got older, life began to happen, the stakes got higher and my expenses went up with them. To get to this point in my life where I can share with you my tips for living beneath your means without suffering I have had to make many money mistakes, including the gambling I mentioned in my previous post. Even as the cost of living increases, as a family we are finding ways to live within and beneath our means without feeling like the fun and enjoyment have been pushed out of our lives. We are able to save and invest our money while still being able to go on holiday, have takeaway meals and go on days out if we want to.


Financial Frugality without the suffering

Below, you’ll find some great suggestions for living beneath your means in order to build savings. You won’t have to move into a shoebox, live on a shoestring, or completely forgo entertainment and shopping – but the tips below will help you learn how to make better spending choices.

3 strategies for Living Well Beneath

Tip 1 – Have a slice of humble pie.

If you’re constantly in competition with your neighbors, coworkers, or friends, you’re never going to stop spending. In the back of your mind, you’ll always try to “beat” them by having the newest car, the biggest house, the most expensive clothing, and more. It’s true what they say comparing your ‘stuff’ to other people’s ‘stuff will steal your joy.

Once I evicted the need to keep up with the Joneses from my mind, I was able to trim the fat from your budget more effectively.

freshening up your home with some paint

If you’re a smoker, now is the time to quit. If not for your health, do it for your financial future. I’ve never been a smoker but I had to take the same attitude to things I was buying on a regular basis. Subscriptions to live sports are my biggest expense.

I had to work with what I had. I’m not really into cars like that so now I won’t to upgrade my car if the one I have gets us from point A to point B. Working with what can also mean freshening up your home with some paint instead of moving out in search of a better-looking home. My wife is the DIY expert in our house

Tip 2 – Trim your grocery budget.

Coupons and vouchers aren’t the only way to save money on your grocery bills (though they certainly help). You just need to be conscious of your purchases. Even with today’s soaring food prices it’s possible to feed a family of four for under £10 with a high-quality meal. 

One thing I no longer do is to go shopping when I am hungry or tired. This one was an easy fix I become more aware of hunger’s impact on my choices. When you’re hungry or you can become less mindful of what you should be eating and focus more on satisfying that hunger. This can result in buying something you hadn’t planned or budgeted for.

Three nights a week, I cook up something very inexpensive for dinners, such as paella, penne pasta, or spaghetti meatballs. It’s a nice change of pace that doesn’t leave feeling deprived. Cooking more than we need helps us make additional savings because the leftovers can be eaten another night. Time and money saved!

vegetable penne pasta

Click the link for my vegetable penne pasta – it’s a hit in our house and kid approved.

Creamy Veggie Penne Pasta

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Tip 3 – Make savings a priority.

Savings aren’t optional. Savings are necessary for financial emergencies – and they always come up in some form or another. Treat your savings like any other expense each month. Place this, as every other bill, in your budget workbook. You do have a budget workbook, don’t you?

My wife and I break up our savings into pay periods. For example in order to save £200 per month in a 2-income household, each partner could set aside £25 per week. A £200 goal would be just £25 per week. When a savings goal is broken into manageable pieces, it’s a far less daunting figure. 

When you’re unable to meet your savings goals, either find a way to make more money or spend less money each month.

If you’re able to trim the fat from your monthly expenses, there will always be a way to meet your savings goals. 

Budget your “fun money” as well. When you budget a set amount for unnecessary shopping trips and entertainment, you can’t shop until you drop. When the money runs out, you’re done. Remember we want to live frugally and not feel like we are suffering, fun matters.

To finish

Your whole life doesn’t need to change in order to live below your means. 

It’s all about minimizing your expenses where possible and refusing the urge to live larger – even if you have the means to do so. By implementing these simple tips, you can slash hundreds of pounds – if not more – off your monthly bills and stash it into your savings account or make smart investments with it!

A quick snapshot of what this looks like for me. Here’s an example of two different expense columns:

How it is now:How it is used:
Donation to charitySix-pack of beer
SavingsMonthly livesport subscription
Books on investing, personal growthMcDonald’s breakfast
Self-improvement seminarGym membership (rarely used)
Low-cost subscription for at home fitness low cost tennis club and aikido feesDriving to tennis tournaments around the country.

By making smart adjustments and working with what I have been able to enjoy the frugal side of life while future-proofing our finances.

You may also read How to stop fighting over financial disputes

Thank you for reading this. I hope you got a lot of value out of it so please share it with others and let me know what you think by leaving me a comment.

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