Sick of Being Frugal? Living Within Your Means is a Two-Part Equation. Increase Your Means.


Occasionally someone will need some extra attention in getting started with the YNAB system and we’ll work with them through either YNAB Coaching, the forums, or sometimes just with a few quick emails.

90% of the time the ranting is something like:

  • You need to stop spending.
  • Be smarter about your spending.
  • Your spending is out of control.
  • You’re hemorrhaging money.
  • Please leave your wallet at home.
  • Dude, I can’t believe you actually bought that.
  • Dude, I can’t believe you actually buy that every month.
  • STOP!

I’ve written extensively when it comes to living within your means. For the most part, when it’s mentioned, people think one way:

Living within your means.

When perhaps they should be thinking another way:

Living within your means.

I’d like us to start thinking about the more enjoyable part of this platitude. Would you rather figure out a way to save $50, or make $50? And then the next obvious question is of course, “Why not do both?”

Too often when the realities of your budget are staring you in the face, you turn toward the left and start hacking away at expenses (come on guys, let’s be realistic, you will need to buy clothes eventually) until you’re left sitting at home watching re-runs of Silver Spoons, analyzing the poor spending habits of Edward Stratton III — and it’s Friday night.

Let’s turn to the right and focus on increasing your means.

This glance right happened to me during the summer of 2004. As a result, I decided I’d sell mine and Julie’s budgeting system to the world. Hopefully the story has a happy ending.

A small upfront time investment can yield a significant short-term increase to your means, but does not have the cumulative power of long-term investing in other income sources. Examples of short-term bursts to your means may include selling stuff, working overtime, or picking up odd jobs.

FMF over at FreeMoneyFinance has a phenomenal list of ways to increase your means in his Guide to Making Money. My two favorites include:

Oh and, let’s not forget the best way to increase your means: Invest and eventually live off the earnings.

Being frugal is all well and good, and I enjoy the Frugal Fight as much as the next guy, but I suppose I enjoy the task of increasing my means even more. After all, there’s a lot more to life than Silver Spoons.