The Financista Fundamental #1: Live Below Your Means

I was inspired by Madame X at My Open Wallet, who published her financial rules, and I plan to start a little series on what I consider the fundamentals of personal finance and frugality.

Fundamental #1 is undoubtedly to live below your means. Whether you are taking in $100 a month or $10,000 a month, you need to learn to make it work for you. While a volunteer with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in New Orleans, my roommates and I all earned $75 a month for food and $80 a month for a personal items. While health insurance, transportation to work, and rent was provided for, there was still not a lot of fluff left over. But, we made it work. And that's the key. If you need to have a roommate, eat out less, mend your clothes, or stay home more often, it's essential to figure out a way to spend less than you take in. It's non-negotiable and fundamental to financial success. If you need further persuasion, read this article at the Motley Fool.