Get To The Finish Line Early By Living WAY Below Your Means


If you can forgo a lifestyle that ‘matches’ your current pay, especially if you start while young, you will surpass the apparent ‘riches’ of most your workmates, neighbors, and friends – who will have dug a deep hole for themselves as the years tick by. Not that the goal itself is beating them to the finish line, instead it is enabling yourself to be better prepared for tomorrow.

Here’s what I mean…

Most people instinctively live a lifestyle which they perceive to match that of their paycheck. This usually means ‘leveraging’ with loans to buy ‘big’ and ‘shiny’, and/or to purchase lifestyle accessories which self-identify their apparent ‘riches’ for all the world to see.

These people (most people) as a result will never achieve a level of cash liquidity (freedom) to purchase or live ‘free’ when they’re a bit older – down the road, so to speak. They will be trapped in debt, with no real escape. Many people will not even be able to pay off their mortgage by the time they retire – having had short-sightedness all their lives.

Many people will not really be able to retire because they have lived their artificial lives as Kings and Queens instead of living within and below their means.

One way to be successful is to live a modest lifestyle particularly during the peak earning years of your career. Squirrel the excess away and/or use the excess to invest wisely. Choosing to purposely live WELL BELOW YOUR MEANS is not an easy thing for most. It is so tempting to live life up to the same standards as the rest in your pay class – especially given the ingrained notion to keep up with the Joneses. Besides… who doesn’t want a bigger this or a better that? Especially when you can afford it…

Well the thing is, if you put off a lifestyle of plenty and live WAY beneath your means, you will be opting out of the system and building a financially secure future for yourself (for later).

Although I can hear some of you saying that the economic collapse is coming, so why not spend it all now and get ready for SHTF? I will say that while I too am astounded how it has held together so far, I also am often surprised how they can keeping pulling more rabbits out of their hats.

That said, and while I do suspect that this thing’s going to crash one day, the general point I’m hoping to make is to consider living less like an artificial King and to live more prudent, simple, and practical. This will not only help you financially (more disposable income), but will enable more choices for you as you head down the road of life.

Another advantage to living way below your means is that you will learn ‘frugal’ and you will learn how to make do with less. You will become clever in many ways. You will learn to do more with your hands. You will be down to earth. You will better understand your real environment. You will learn to recognize the BS of the “King’s”. You will learn to be happy with what you have and quite probably happier than the ‘rich’. You will be more honest with yourself. All this in itself is a better preparation for an economic collapse than having lived high and mighty.

The notion of living within or slightly below your means is good in itself (many people don’t even do this), but to truly take advantage of your current pay-scale, try living way, way below your means. This is true no matter what your current level – because it’s all ‘relative’. If you’re making $40K/yr then live like you’re only making $30K. If you’re making $75K/yr then try living like you’re only making $50K.

How? By simply living in a smaller and cheaper place. It may not be in the neighborhood that you wish, or it might not have the conveniences, room, and style that you wish, but it’ll all pay off later. Don’t buy the new car. In fact, don’t even buy the nice used car. Buy something that still runs well and is still reliable, but don’t get the ‘nice’ car or truck just yet. Don’t buy your lunch every day (learn to ‘brown bag’ it). Don’t go out to eat all the time. There’s tons that you can do to live way below your means.

What’s the payoff? The reward lies down the road when you’ve saved a boat-load of money (and/or invested wisely). At some later date you will NOT need a bank to get a car loan. You will pay cash and own it outright. One day you may even have enough to pay cash for a house. Yes, it is possible, especially if you’ve become accustomed to living in something other than a McMansion. The payoff is a realistic chance for a ‘real’ retirement or even an early retirement. It will become your freedom while indebted to no-one.

To successfully get to the finish line (early) while being a free man or woman (from debt and obligation to the system), is to resist the urge to live like an artificial King.


  1. There’s some great wisdom in this article, and I could only wish that some younger folks are paying attention. Sadly, it’s gonna be lost on many out there who need it most. But, hey, let’s just raise the national minimum wage and make living easier on folks, right? Heck, why not national health care to easy the burden too?

    Society just isn’t supporting of these approaches because instant gratification is too embedded as a way of living. And, now we’ve got a grown generation (millennials) who are raising their own children to be even less responsible with finances and technology because it’s just too darn tempting out there and work incentives aren’t what they used to be. It’d be a shame to have to work hard and still have to live on less…

    Not to be all doom and gloom this fine morning, but we’re just too far gone as a society to reverse course now. I’ve little faith any longer that we’re anything less now than a hybrid version of a socialist/capitalistic country set on a crash course to go down in flames economically or by global jihad war.

  2. Debt is growth. This whole nation is based on debt. Without debt the entire country would collapse into ……LIBERTY.

  3. I agree with Perceval. I’ve lived the exact life you describe Ken and it has paid off hugely. I’ve also been in a position to advise young people working for me over the last twenty five years and not one of them ever took a single piece of advice. I learned my lessons from my father who taught and lived as an example. I don’t know what the future brings, but I’m not optimistic for the masses at all.

  4. Ken, you just outlined my lifestyle. Living way below the culturally “standard means” gave me more wisdom and skills so I can have those extra bucks to pay what I want in cash. Can’t tell that to the younger generations when society’s culture tells them to behave a certain way to fit in with gadgets, loans, new cars, credit cards, latest trends and fashions, etc., and dependency on gov’t handouts.

    I am soooo not cool with todays “society”, and I wear it like a badge of independence. However society is going plastic and digital drowning in debt, which makes me like an alligator, a survivor of the dinosaur age, but still a survivor when 90% of the other dinosaurs were wiped out in a cataclysmic event.

  5. You can have what you want by wanting what you have. To keep things in perspective, visit some third world countries. Or even some that are not third world. Upon returning you’ll be shocked at how unbelievably wealthy the average middle class American really is. We can’t see the forest for the trees.

    1. CR
      You nailed it. Americans in general have NO concept of real poverty. I thought I grew up poor, in projects and on welfare. It seemed so bad that I made sure that I got a scholarship to go to college to better myself.

      UNTIL… I went to Tanzania to hike kilimanjaro. I spent a day in Arushu and saw poverty for the first time. Now I look back at my childhood and realize how blessed I was. I was born in a country where I got healthcare, food, and schooling, and I was able to better myself and transcend social classes. Most of the world lacks that luxury. We take it for granted in the US.

  6. @tango right on!!! debt free is the best. In 5 yrs our home will be paid for then we are totally debt free. Cant pay off early cause the finance comp. has started to charge a fee for paying more then the payment.

    We also talk to folks about cutting back….. as of yet not one person has taken the advice. In fact some get hostile.

    One of our cars will be 14 years old this fall. It still runs great, thank God. Given that its getting so old we have started a fund to buy another one when then finally dies.

    This is a great article , hope it hits home for some and they make the change. We learned a bit late in life. So we have a lot of catch up to do, as far as retirement goes.

  7. Ironic, my wife and I had been discussing things like this just recently. She remembers going to the fabric store and buying a yard or so of fabric and making napkins for the table…and we still ascribe to it. We watch the younger folks who think it is a disposable society – what will they do when it all stops………?

  8. Simple figures for consideration;

    If you live on 20% of your income and invest 80%, in eight years you can retire and never work again.

    1. “I’m more concerned about the return of my money than the return on my money”

      Will Rogers

  9. I live the way I always did, when my income went up I didn’t change my lifestyle. I don’t get a new TV until the old one no longer works, and I fix it if I can! I have a 550 sq ft home and don’t want a TV bigger than 24″. I don’t game, I buy used cars (depreciation is too painful!) I live debt free. I craft, make things myself, have become very handy with carpentry, dry walling ect. I would like to travel more but can’t get away from work. I would sure hate to scrimp and save then pass on before I had a chance to do anything fun! I guess it’s a balance!

  10. When I talk about being debt free, people look at me like I’m crazy. I think they are crazy to owe so much money and act like it’s no big deal. What if you lose your job? Do you want to work forever? I guess society is so messed up because it’s normal to be selfish, spoiled and entitled.

  11. We all could invest in Switzerlands equivalent of the T bill. Now offered at a ‘negative’ interest rate. Yes, investors pay interest to loan money.

    Makes the mattress vault sound better and better. Might be a good place to store the PMs that you traded fiat for. Although the fiat is quite a bit better for TP.

  12. It’s really common sense. And if you invest what you’re not spending then compounding interest will work for you, especially if you started when you’re young.

    But unfortunately I didn’t seem to be one of those with finacial common sense until I was much older. I’m trying to convince my almost 18 year old nephew of this, but he sees his grandfather as a piggy bank and me as a bit nuts, and since grandpa gives him everything that he wants, right down to a 2 year old CRV when he turned 16 to paying his cell phone bill with 10 gigs of data every month he’s not learning a thing.

  13. When I was 17 and decided to become a park ranger, everyone chided me saying “You won’t make any money as a park ranger!” My response was “I won’t NEED a lot of money. As a park ranger, most the time there will be staff housing and when there isn’t, I’ll be in rural America, where housing is cheap.” I reasoned that money is merely a vehicle to attain quality of life and if one already HAS quality of life (in my case, the outdoors, solitude, no commute, etc.) money was a moot point.

    I rode a bike or got a ride with friends until I could buy a car. I even lived on one of the properties in a tent, for a while! I was young and it was an adventure. Over time, I was able to squirrel away funds. The houses I purchased later were old and in need of repairs. I fixed them up and subsequently sold each for a respectable profit. I did this many times over and increased my net worth, while keeping only a minimal amount of the money. I’m glad I did, because I was widowed at a young age and left with three kids to care for.

    By buying bigger and better properties each time, I eventually was able to pay cash on a ranch. I decided to retire when I turned 56 and began going the other way… I sold off parcels of acreage, gave myself annuities and reinvested the balance in smaller properties, which also have the potential for sweat equity. No longer building, but rather drawing from my “portfolio”, the smaller properties offer greater liquidity and versatility (it’s a lot easier to sell 6 acres than 60 and having multiple properties increases the odds of getting one sold.)

    I’m now leaning toward offering owner financing. It will give me residual income and I won’t be forced to put a large sum in the bank – something I am NEVER comfortable with! I didn’t start out trying to accumulate wealth, but it’s the inevitable outcome of NOT living beyond one’s means.

Comments are closed.