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Frugal living is not about depriving yourself of the finer things in life or being a cheapskate.
Frugality is more of a mindset that you adapt to get the most out of the things you have and spending less on things you need.
Table of Contents
What Does Frugal Living Mean?
Some people think that living frugal means that you are living the “Little House on the Prairie” lifestyle. They think that you must grow your own food, making your own clothes and living off the land.
Although that lifestyle is very frugal, you don’t have to take it to that extreme to save money. It’s more about making the most of what you have and not being wasteful.
The definition of frugal is “being prudent and economical of the consumption of resources such as food, time and money”. It just means that you are careful about how you spend your money, time, and resources.
It just makes the most financial sense to not waste these precious commodities if you don’t need to.
Doing whatever you can do to get your money’s worth should be a way of life everyone needs to adapt to. I don’t know why anybody would want to take these things for granted.
Benefits of Frugal Living
There are many benefits to frugal living. Remember, it’s about being mindful about how you spend your money and not wasting.
By implementing some of these frugal living tips into your daily life, you’ll benefit in many ways such as…
- You’ll be able to start living below your means
- It’ll allow you to finally get out of debt
- Stop always worrying about money
- You will be able to create a budget that you can live with and actually stick to
- Save money for the things that you want without using credit
- Build an emergency fund which you know you need
- Quit a job that you hate
- Save for retirement
- Have money to follow your dreams
- Stay home with your babies
- Not have to depend on anybody else
- And the list goes on an on…
Sound good? Great! Let’s get started!!
How to be Frugal Without Being Cheap or Feeling Deprived
Other misconceptions about living a frugal life are that you’ll be seen as being cheap or that you are going to be depriving yourself of the finer things in life.
Nothing could be further from the truth unless you let it. You don’t need to stop going out to dinner every once and a while. But maybe you’ll be more mindful about where you go or what you order because you don’t want to waste food and money.
You can still indulge in your favorite specialty coffee drinks. But instead of opting for all the extras that cost more money, you can forgo them if it just isn’t worth the cost. You can even find some copycat coffee recipes and make them at home.
When you think about it this way, doesn’t it just make sense?
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99 Amazing Frugal Living Tips
Frugal Living Tips to Save Money On Food
Shop at a local farmer’s market
Produce purchased at a farmers market is usually way cheaper than buying them in a grocery store. Plus it’s most likely fresher so it’ll last longer reducing food waste.
Always shop with a list
Always shop with a list to save on groceries and everything else for that matter. When you shop with a list, you spend less money than you need to by avoiding impulse purchases.
Buy generic items when possible. Did you know that most generic brand food is made by the same manufacturer as the big brands? You are basically getting the same product while not paying extra for the fancy packaging.
Plan meal around what is on sale. Shopping sales is a great way to save money on food. You can literally cut your grocery budget by 25% – 50% buying food when it’s on sale.
Buy in bulk
Buy in bulk when possible. There are many items that you probably use on a daily or weekly basis that can be purchased in bulk to save money. As long as you know you’ll use it before it goes bad.
Use coupons whenever possible to save money on groceries. There is no need to go to extremes, just clip coupons for things that you are planning on purchasing anyway. You can also take advantage of double coupon days to save even more.
Ask for a raincheck
Take advantage of rain checks if a sale item is out of stock. A raincheck is simply a guarantee from the store that you’ll be able to purchase the item at the sale price when it’s back in stock.
Try to stockpile staples when they are on sale when possible. When you find a great deal on products you use regularly, try to buy enough to last until it comes on sale again. This is typically between four and eight weeks depending on the store’s sale cycle.
Invest in a chest freezer
Invest in a chest freezer and stock up on meat when it is on sale. Meat is one of the biggest expenses on our grocery list. It’s worth investing in a chest freezer to stock up on meat when you can get it cheaper.
Stop buying convenience food
Don’t buy single-serving packages, you just pay for all the extra packaging. Instead, buy larger packages and make your own single-serve packs at home.
Prepare meatless meals
Make a few meat-free meals a week. Again, meat is one of the biggest food expenses which is why trying to spend less on it makes sense. Pinterest is a great resource for finding tons of recipes.
Repurpose leftovers to cut back on food waste. There are many ways to repurpose leftovers. My favorite way is to use them in casserole dishes. You can also use them to make work or school lunches throughout the week.
Start a garden
Start a garden to save money on fresh produce. Gardening isn’t as hard as it seems and it feels really good making meals with food that you grew yourself. If you don’t have any land to grow a garden, you can start a container garden on a porch or balcony.
Brown bag it
Pack a lunch for work and school as much a possible. It doesn’t take all that long to pack lunches every evening and it can really save a lot of money every month.
Utilize a crockpot
Try to utilize a crockpot as much as possible. Crockpots are not only a really efficient way to cook but the time savings is also a plus. What’s better than getting home after a long day at work and having supper ready and waiting?
Cook more often
Cook more and eat out less. Eating out and grabbing takeout is a huge expense that can easily be avoided by planning ahead of time. This is where meal planning and slow cooker meals come in really handy.
Drinking more water means you are drinking less soda. Soda is not only bad for your health, but it’s also bad for your wallet. Water is so much better for you and it’s free!
Invest in a food saver
Consider investing in a Food Saver. Just as the name suggests, a food saver will help preserve food longer. It’ll save your food from freezer burn, and going bad prematurely reducing food waste.
Use rebate apps
Use money-saving rebate apps such as Saving Star, Checkout 51 or Ibotta. Using couponing apps doesn’t require a big-time investment and can save you quite a bit of money on groceries. It’s worth taking the time to use them.
Buy in season
Buy fruit and veggies in-season when they are less expensive. You can enjoy them all year long by freezing, canning, and preserving them.
Grow your own herbs
Grow your own herbs with a window sill garden. Buying herbs from a grocery store is expensive, you can grow your own on your kitchen window sill for so much less, even if you don’t have a green thumb.
Find frugal dishes
Create a list of go-to frugal meals that you can incorporate into your meal plan to save money on food. Just like having meatless meals, try to incorporate a few frugal dishes such as casseroles or crockpot meals to add to your menu.
Frugal Living Tips To Save On Utilities
Line dry clothes
Line dry clothes outside when possible. Your clothes dryer is one of the biggest energy-sucking appliances in your home. If you can cut down on using it as much as possible, it’ll save you a bunch of money. If you can’t line dry your clothes outside, a drying rack works well too.
Shut lights when not in use
Turn lights off when not in use. This is such a simple thing to do. Make a habit of flipping light switches off every time you walk out of a room. After a while, it’ll become second nature and it saves energy.
Don’t use the dry cycle on your dishwasher. Your dishes are going to dry on their own, why would you waste money and energy when you don’t have to?
Use power stripes
Utilize power strips when you can. We all have a few places in our homes where there is a cluster of electronic or small appliances. These are perfect places to utilize power strips to cut back on energy.
Change your bulbs
Try to use CFL or LED light bulbs whenever possible. There is no need to spend a ton of money on light bulbs all at once, just replace bulbs as they burn out with a better, more energy-efficient bulb.
Take shorter showers
Yes, we all love nice hot long showers to relax but it not only takes a lot of water. But it also takes quite a bit of energy to heat that water causing your money to go down the drain.
Install low flow nozzles
Install low flow aerator faucet heads and showerheads. This is a simple way to save water and you won’t even notice the difference in water pressure.
Install programmable thermostats
Install a programmable thermostat to save money on heating fuel and cooling costs. Make use of the functions by setting the temp to lower at bedtime and increase before your alarm rings. Do the same when nobody is home during the day, you won’t even notice the difference.
Use the cold cycle
Use cold water to do laundry. Most loads of laundry don’t require hot or warm water. Yes, there may be times when you need to but those are few and far between.
Wrap your water heater
Insulate your water heater to keep the heat from escaping to conserve energy. Think about it, when you put on a warm jacket before going outside, your conserving your body heat. The same is true for your water heater. Keeping the heat in will mean it runs less often, saving energy.
Slow down your internet
Most times when signing up for internet service, you are given the highest speed by default. Slowing down this service saves money and you probably won’t even notice the difference.
Cancel your landline
If you have a cell phone, why do you need a landline? You don’t need it anyway, so why not cancel this service. There is no need to pay for a service that you don’t even need.
Lower your water temp
Turn down your water heater temperature. Water heaters are a big energy suck so turning it down a few degrees will make a noticeable difference in energy savings.
Clean your filters
Make it a habit to clean air conditioner filters regularly. Clogged filters in appliances make them work harder than they need to. It takes a few minutes to clean them off every few weeks.
Close heat registers
Close heat registers in unused rooms and clothes the doors. There is no need to heat or cool rooms that nobody is using anyway.
Plant trees and shrubs strategically to shade the sun and block the wind. Trees and shrubs give your home a great curb appeal. But more importantly, they help conserve energy by blocking wind and shading your home when strategically placed.
Bundle services whenever possible if you get a discount. You can bundle your phone, internet, and cable together or homeowners and vehicle insurances to save money. Most companies offer money-saving discounts for bundle packages.
Insulate where needed
Keep your home well insulated to save on heating and cooling costs. Insulating your walls and attic to prevent heat loss is a major money saver. It does require an upfront investment but the energy saving will pay for it many times over.
Use shades to your advantage
Using window shades to your advantage is an easy frugal living idea anyone can take advantage of. Letting the sun in when it’s cold outside or keeping it out on in the summer make a huge difference in energy bills. The same is true when old man winter is whipping wind around.
Seal leaky windows and doors as much as possible. This is an inexpensive and easy fix that makes a huge impact on energy savings.
Related article: 13 Ways to Save Money On Your Energy Bill
Frugal Living Tips to Save Money On Transportation
Keep tires well inflated
Tires that aren’t well-inflated cause more friction when the rubber meets the road. This makes your vehicle work harder while taking more fuel. It’s a simple task to check them every few weeks that has the potential to save money on gas.
Carpool to work
If you have the opportunity, consider carpooling to work with coworkers. If you can find 2 to 4 people to rotate carpooling duty, you can cut your transportation costs by 1/2 or even 1/4th
Ride bide or walk
If you need to go to a place that is relatively close to where you live, why not walk or bike there to save on gas? You get the added health benefit of getting exercise.
Drive your vehicle longer
For most of us, our car is just used to get us from point A to point B. It doesn’t need to do anything else so why not use it as long as possible to save money. Wouldn’t it be nice to not have any car payments for a few years or so?
Shop for better insurance
Review and compare insurance rates at least once a year to make sure you aren’t paying more than you have to. Also, make sure your coverage and deductible still fit your needs.
Make do with one vehicle
If you and your spouse each have a vehicle, think about downsizing to just one if possible. One of you could carpool to work or find other means to get there and a schedule can be set to allow each of you time to use the one vehicle to get errands done.
Find the lowest gas prices
Do a quick search for the lowest gas prices using an app like gasbuddy.com. It only takes a minute and could save you a bunch of money over the course of a year.
Keep your vehicle well maintained
Have your car serviced and oil changed at least once or twice a year to make sure there are no issues. Be sure to check your car’s fluids at least once a month to ensure they are topped off.
Get gas at a discount
There are many proprietary gas charge cards that give you a discount for using them when you purchase gasoline. If you have a preferred gasoline brand, find out if the company offers a discount for using their card. Many offer a 5-10 cent discount which adds up to a lot of saved money over time.
Never buy new
If you are planning to trade in your car, don’t buy a brand new vehicle. As soon as you drive a new vehicle off the dealer lot, it’s considered a used vehicle and instantly loses value. Instead, opt for a newer used model to save money.
Plan to save
Make a plan for your trips to save money on fuel. Try to lump all your errands that are on a certain side of town all together so you don’t need to drive there multiple times a month. If you drive by your preferred grocery store on your way home from work, then do your groceries on the way home to save a trip later.
Frugal Living Tips To Reduce Spending on Clothing
Shop for deals
When you need to buy clothing for yourself or family, why not take advantage of getting them for pennies on the dollar. Shop garage sales, thrift shops and online consignment shops such as ThredUp and Swap. You’d be surprised at how much “used” clothing you find still have tags on them.
Create a minimalist wardrobe
To avoid having to buy a bunch of new clothes, try creating a minimalist wardrobe. Find pieces that are easily interchangeable and colors work well together. You can easily make 10 or more different outfits from 5 or six pieces of clothing staples.
When you do need to purchase new clothing, it’s worth buying quality over price. Why? Because quality lasts longer. You’ll get much more wear from quality making replacing them less frequent.
Learn to sew
Simple sewing and mending skills are not that difficult to pull off. Yet learning how to do them could save you a bunch of money on replacements or repair services.
Read labels first
Certain fabric requires special care. It could be that you need to wash them separately from the rest of your laundry or needs special care. Whatever the reason, it can cost you in both money and time. It’s something to think about.
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Guaranteed yourself a discount
Whether you shopping for high-end clothes or activewear, you are guaranteed to get them at a discount by shopping at a clothing outlet or discount specialty shop.
Take advantage of seasonal sales
Prices on the end of season clothing sales are slashed by as much as 90% – 95% off. Take advantage of those prices when you can to save a ton of money. For instance, bonnets, mitten, and jackets are good options to look out for in late winter.
Embrace hand me downs
Don’t be embarrassed to accept hand-me-downs. Seriously, if you have children these clothes will be a Godsend for your wallet. Kids go through clothes so quickly, it just makes sense to repurpose them.
Continuing with the above tip, repurpose clothing whenever possible. Whether it’s handing them down to a younger sibling, or creating something new out of them. For instance, if your child has a growth spurt and their pants are a little short, you can turn them into shorts or capris pretty easily.
DIY dry cleaning
If you absolutely need to dry clean clothing items, save money by doing it yourself. You can purchase a DIY home dry cleaning kit for so much less than taking them to get dry cleaned by a professional.
Check out 10 Brilliant Ways to Save On Kids Clothing for more frugal living tips
Frugal Living Tips for Household Savings
Eliminate any service that you don’t need or that you or a family member can do for less. Can you bring your trash to the landfill or recycle center yourself? Do you have a teen that can mow your lawn? All these little things add up over time.
Repurpose when possible
There are many things that can be repurposed to save money. You can repurpose shopping bags to line your small trash cans or use old t-shirts as cleaning rags among many other ways.
Learn how to do basic handyman skills around the house, like unclogging drains or replacing fixtures. Youtube is a great resource to learn how to do just about anything to give it a shot before hiring someone to do it for you.
Disposable products are a total waste of money, you are basically throwing your money in the trash along with the disposable product. Things like zipper bags, foil, paper towels all get one use then go in the trash. Instead, find alternatives such as using cloth napkins and reusable containers to store food.
Maintain your appliances
Appliances, like vehicles, need regular maintenance to run properly. Make sure to have your appliance serviced once a year to save money on costly repairs or breakdowns.
Fill to capacity
When doing laundry or dishes fill your washers to capacity before turning them on. It’s going to use the same amount of water and energy with small loads as you do larger ones.
Find more frugal living DIY products you can easily make yourself to save money here.
Frugal Living Tips to Save Money Shopping
Use cashback sites
Search for coupon codes
When shopping online, there are many coupon codes you can apply to your purchased to get discounts or free shipping. The problem is finding one that qualifies for what you are buying. Honey can help you out here. It’s a Chrome extension that applies coupon codes automatically at check out to save money and time while online shopping.
Always find the lowest prices
Compare priced before buying. It just makes sense to always try to find the best prices before making a purchase. If you’re shopping online the Priceblink extension can do the work for you saving you a bunch of time and money.
Get money back if the price drops
Don’t you hate it when you buy something and see it a few days later for a lower price? Paribus can help to get you a reimbursement for the difference. You can read how it works here.
Sign up for loyalty programs
Signing up for loyalty programs at the stores you shop at regularly is an easy way to earn rewards simply for presenting your card at checkout. Plus, there are some stores that won’t even give you the sale prices if you are not a member.
Always review your receipts
Always reviewing your store receipts before leaving the parking lot is a good habit to get into. Mistakes happen all the time, so it never hurts to make sure prices are accurate.
Compare unit price
Comparing the unit price is the simplest way to make sure you are paying the least amount for items. Even if packages look the same size, the contents could be very different.
Check out clearance sections regularly
When you go shopping, take a few minutes to scan the clearance isles, racks or shelves. You can find some really good deals and the selection is ever-changing.
Research big-ticket items
Always do your research when you are planning to purchase a big-ticket item. There is nothing worse than spending a bunch of money on something only to regret your decision.
Buy energy star appliances
Buying Energy Star appliances is an easy way to reduce your electricity bills. When you need to replace any appliance, remember to look for the energy star logo.
Use rewards cards
Using rewards cards to pay for your purchases is a great way to earn cashback, rewards miles or points for free stuff easily. Just make sure you can pay your balances in full every month.
Frugal Living Tips to Save on Entertainment
Community events are a great way to have a good time for cheap or free. You can have a good time without spending much, whether the local school is hosting a carnival or the local theater putting on a play.
Rent or borrow
Take advantage of your local library and borrow books for free. You can even rent DVD’s for cheap and sometimes free, so make it a point to go and see what they have to offer.
Free fun for kids
Kids are so easy to please when they are young. They don’t care if it cost you a bundle or it’s free, take advantage of that while you still can. They’ll have just as much fun at a park or beach as they would at other more expensive outings.
Scope out festivals
Festivals are always a good time and most of the time it’s free or at a very low cost. Why not support your community while meeting up with friends and neighbors for less?
Host a potluck
Instead of going out to an expensive restaurant, why not invite your friends to your home to have a potluck dinner or back yard barbeque. You’ll have just as good a time for a fraction of the cost.
Make fun at home
Taking the family out for a movie and pizza can get expensive pretty quickly. Instead, make your own family night at home. You can rent movies, make your own pizza and popcorn. If you involve your kids, they’ll be just as happy as if you went out.
In this day and age, there is really no excuse for spending money on magazine or newspaper subscriptions. You can get all this information online at home or on the go.
Find cheaper options for TV
Cable and satellite are expensive. There are so many other cheaper options available to watch TV these days. You can get a digital HDTV antenna to watch your local channels for free and use a streaming service such as Hulu or Netflix for so much cheaper.
Frugal Living Tips to Reduce Health and Wellness Expenses
Maintain your health
Keeping yourself healthy is one of the best ways to save money on health care costs. Focus on maintaining your health and staying active to avoid unwanted medical bills
Take advantage of wellness clinics
Wellness clinics are a good place to get free or cheap tests done by a medical professional for free or cheap. It doesn’t replace your yearly doctor’s’ visits but can help you detect issues in between visits.
Get your flu shot
Getting a flu shot is a simple thing that you can do to save money and your health. Many times, you can get them for free or very little at a wellness clinic or your local pharmacy.
Quit the gym
You might think I’m contradicting my earlier statement about maintaining your health by telling you to quit the gym. What I mean is that you can get exercise and stay active without having to pay hefty gym membership fees.
Buy generic meds
If you take meds on a regular basis, it pays to find a way to reduce out of pocket costs. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can get the generic versions to save money. You can also find cheaper med prices online on sites like YouDrugStore.com
Brush and floss regularly
Prevention is always the best medicine and that also goes for your dental health. Avoid costly dental work by always flossing and brushing regularly.
Take advantage of an HSA
If your employer offers an HSA, make sure you take advantage of paying for health care costs tax-free. You can even purchase over the counter meds or preventative care with your HSA.
Opt for walk-in clinics
If you have a minor injury or your kids have the flu, opt to go to a walk-in clinic instead of the emergency room. You’ll save money on health costs while still getting the care you need.
If you smoke…then quit. Smoking is not only a huge waste of money, but it also causes all kinds of health issues and even death.
Frugal Living Conclusion
As you can see frugal living doesn’t mean that you are cheap or that you have to deprive yourself of the things you want. It just means that you are being smart about how you use your money.
Do you have any frugal living tips you can share? Please leave a comment.
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FAQ About Frugal Living
What does frugal living mean?
Frugal living is about being prudent and economical of the consumption of resources such as food, time, and money.
How do you live frugally?
To live a frugal life, you must be mindful of how you use resources and not waste them unnecessarily.
Does frugal living mean I'm cheap?
Not at all. It is possible to live frugally without being cheap.