live by your wits

live by/on (one's) wits

To survive or make a living through one's intellect and resourcefulness. When I lost everything, I had to live by my wits, and it made me a stronger, more savvy person.
See also: live, on, wit

live by your wits

earn money by clever and sometimes dishonest means, having no regular occupation.
See also: live, wit

live by/on your ˈwits

earn money by clever or sometimes dishonest means: Patrick did not go to college, as expected, but learned to live very successfully on his wits.
See also: live, on, wit
References in periodicals archive ?
To survive and compete as a footballer in Liverpool, you have to be extremely talented and live by your wits.
Each place you visit is different to the last and you will soon learn to live by your wits, bargain hard and, most importantly, laugh at the infuriating bureaucracy left by the Raj and loved, out of all proportion, by the Indians.