People advise that you should live within your means—but I say, live below your means rather. Since I started earning money as an adult, I have always pushed to live below my income/means and the results have been amazingly satisfying.
And when I came across Minimalism, it made my desire to live below my means even more possible and easy.
Freedom is everything to me and the reason why I really work is to be able to be FREE—to afford to buy more of my time back from the matrix owners.
Over the years, I have seen a drastic increase in my monthly income but comparatively, my lifestyle has been almost always the same. In fact, as my income even increases, I find my expenses going down.
I drive a moderate BMW (1 series). Even when I was a full-time writer (owner of online businesses), I had a BMW. Now that I am practising Law full time as a lawyer and continues to earn income (even more than before) from my online businesses, I still drive a moderate BMW.
Of course, I can easily buy a Range Rover or a Tesla. After all, I am a practising lawyer—making some good money each month from this field. I also have some profitable online businesses. Range Rover or a Tesla, probably, to some people fits more of my status. One of my friends has even said, I need to upgrade my perfectly fine car to something more expensive. But that will mean I will be living within my means. I hate that—I prefer to live below my means.
Living below your means does not mean you do not have great or good things or life. I have an amazing life—that I believe is enviable. I just make sure my lifestyle is not defined by how much money comes into my bank each month. The more most people earn, the more they find themselves spending, mostly necessarily.
For instance, I always visit Ghana 4 to 6 times each year. That is like part of me—part of my life. I also love to travel around—that is also my lifestyle. Whenever I am travelling, I fly economy or premium economy unless there is a sort of urgency or need to fly Business Class. When I travelled to Ghana in October 2020 at the time coronavirus was at the top of our conversations, I paid for a Business Class—to ensure that I do not have anyone sitting right close to me. When I travelled to the same destination in December, I paid for a premium economy ticket because I was confident that I wouldn’t contract COVID-19 on board, learning from my previous travel.
So my constant flying of economy or premium economy is something below my means. If I want to live within my means, then surely my means befit Business Class, always.
Let’s look at another example of living below my means. I currently have iPhone 8. I can afford to buy iPhone 12 or whatever phone that is on the market. The question is: what do I need a phone for—to make and receive calls, to send messages and sometimes to come online.
Considering how much I earn (my means), iPhone 12 or whatever the latest phone is on the market is suitable if I want to live within my means. But here I am, with iPhone 8—doing exactly what I need a phone for—and it is far below my means.
There are enormous benefits you derive when you live below your means including not being under constant financial pressures and always having some sort of financial safety net for unforeseeable things.
More importantly, your life becomes simpler, happier and exciting when you live below your means—limiting your dependant on material things or stuff, which does not truly make anyone happy.
When you live below your means, you are able to focus and direct your resources (money) to the things that really matter to you—for instance, take care of your parents or siblings—help your friends—educate yourself more or buy back your time (by cutting down your hours of work) to travel or engage in activities that make you happy.
One key ingredient to being able to live below your means is to robustly knit your own expectations and lifestyle and not to live according to any societal blueprint or the expectation of others. Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses because the Joneses themselves are broke. Concentrate on the value and purpose of your life and not the unending influence of the market all around us.
If Alicia Keys is wearing something, you don’t need to wear it too. She is Alicia Keys and you are Akosua Bruwaa. Define your own life alongside your principles and happiness, and don’t allow the opinions of others to drive your spending or lifestyle.
—Chris-Vincent Agyapong, the Lawyer, the Writer, the Minimalists, the Thinker and the Professional Truth Sayer