Are you struggling financially or having a hard time staying under budget? Here are some easy to apply frugal living tips that actually work. And, they’re practical to use so you don’t have to deprive yourself or modify your lifestyle drastically to save extra cash.
Putting just a few of these tips into practice will help you save more money each month to stop living paycheck to paycheck, pay off your debts early, and be happier.
Most importantly, they can help you achieve peace of mind so you can sleep more soundly at night.
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What is Frugal Living?
Frugal living is being conscious of how you spend your money. While many people associate frugality with being cheap, it isn’t. Living frugally also doesn’t mean sacrificing things you like to do, your overall quality of life just for the sake of saving every penny.
Instead, it is all about prioritizing your finances. That means spending on things that actually matter while cutting out extra expenses that are excesses or more trivial in nature.
Frugal vs. Cheap: What’s the Difference?
Cheap is trying to get the lowest price possible no matter what. At times, this involves haggling and bargaining for a better price. Other times, it’s just picking up the cheapest item there is without caring whether it is low quality. Cheap also means not leaving a tip. Or, always leaving a $2 tip no matter how much your total bill comes out to.
On the other hand, frugal is all about careful consideration on what you spend and how you spend it While it does have a similar goal as cheap, which is to save money, it focuses more on prioritizing what’s important instead of being cheap just to get the lowest price possible.
One example spending less on eating out or shoes because you’re trying to save up for college or to go on a vacation. Another may be living in a smaller home or renting a cheaper apartment so that you can retire early.
Is Being Frugal Worth It?
When done right, being frugal is well worth the extra effort. The risk of frugality is potentially missing out on some things in life. Also, you can easily cross the line from being frugal to being cheap or a miser if you overdo it.
But, by being conscious about your frugality, you’ll likely thank yourself later in life. That’s because the small sacrifices you make now will allow you to reap bigger benefits later on.
For example, cutting down daily expenses like clothes shopping and other extras now to pay off debt faster relieves the stress and potential money headaches in the future. It also saves you a ton because you’ll end up paying a lot less interest on those loans.
Best Frugal Living Tips that Actually Work
Before you get started with living a frugal lifestyle, it’s very important to understand that this is a process. That means you’re best served by taking baby steps instead of trying huge leaps.
That’s because frugal living is much like dieting. It is very easy to get tempted to try to do everything in the beginning to obtain the fastest results. Unfortunately, this strategy only works in the short term.
To be successful in the long term, you’ll need to transition frugal living into a lifestyle. This lets you keep saving money without depriving yourself or sacrificing your quality of life. When either of these happens, you’ll quickly resent frugal living much like dieters start shunning the diet that helped them lose 20, 30, or 50 pounds. And, you’ll end up where you started.
As such, it’s important to temper your enthusiasm so that you don’t overdo things in the beginning. Instead, every time you try to reduce your expenses to be more frugal, try to figure out how you can do so consistently. This prevents burnout. So, moderation is key.
Another important point with living frugally is that everyone is different. For example, some people don’t mind eating the same foods on a regular basis. This allows them to save money by buying these few items in bulk. But, if you like variety in what you eat, then you may have a hard time implementing this. So, try something else. Or, save money in another way.
In short, don’t force it. Instead, look for things that work for you. And, keep trying new things. The more you try things, the better you’ll know yourself and your preferences. Doing so will help you find areas in your life (and budget) where you can save money without feeling deprived.
With that, it’s time to get to the frugal living tips.
Frugal Living Tips to Save on Household Expenses
- Start a budget
- Swap out your light bulbs for LED ones
- Automate your savings to keep you from spending any cash on hand
- Get rid of all the subscriptions you don’t use anymore
- Pay off your debt whenever there’s extra cash that comes in
- Downsize your home
- Invest in a programmable thermostat.
- Cut your landline if you all use mobile phones.
- Choose cheaper mobile service plans that suit your family
- Unplug appliances when not in use
- Downsize your home if you don’t need the extra space. A smaller home is not only cheaper on rent and mortgage but also cuts the cost of utilities.
Frugal Living Tips to Save on Food
- Plan your meals
- Know how much you can allot for food each month
- Cook in bulk and reuse or freeze for later
- Use what’s in your fridge and pantry before buying more stuff
- Create a “to buy” list before going to the store
- Eat at home more
- Learn to cook leftovers
- Have some date nights at home instead of always going out
- Dump sodas and juices, they’re full of sugar anyways
- Brew your own coffee and save a few bucks each day by skipping Starbucks
- Buy meat in bulk, they’re cheaper that way
- Eat less meat since it costs more
- Use your crockpot or instant pot. They not only save time and effort but also let you cook leftovers and tougher cuts of meat.
- Go for cheaper cuts of meat
- Buy frozen fruits and vegetables
- Grow your own veggies and herbs
Frugal Living Tips to Save on Transportation
- Download apps that will help you find the cheapest gas.
- Buy a car that will save you money, not cost you more in the long run
- Walk whenever possible instead of drive
- Get a bike
- Make one trip for errands on a similar route
- Choose a fuel-efficient car
- Wash your car yourself
- Get rid of the excess items in your car. Extra weight means more fuel consumed.
- Keep your tires at the proper pressure
- Don’t accelerate too quickly or brake suddenly
- Don’t use the heater or air condition if the weather is nice outside. Just roll down the windows.
Frugal Living Tips to Save When You Shop or Buy Things
- Use coupons, but don’t buy things you don’t need just because they’re on sale
- Sell stuff you don’t use anymore
- Buy used when it makes sense
- Visit the library instead of buy books
- Buy textbooks used
- Take stock of all the extra things you already have at home. Sell or donate what you don’t need and don’t buy things you already have or have items similar to.
- Go on a “no spend month”
- Always check Amazon for prices before going to the store. Odds are, they can match or better the price.
- Use apps like Ibotta and Ebates to get cashback for your purchases.
- Make your own gifts
- Reuse toys for the kids
Using the frugal living tips above, you’ll be able to turn your financial life around. The best part is, you don’t have to apply all of the tips listed above. Instead, just pick those that you can do on a regular basis. Remember, consistency is key. So, you want things you can incorporate into your life without it being a hassle.