There are many frugal living tips with a BIG impact that you can start implementing today to completely change your financial habits and life. Let’s get started!
Frugal living is key to having a big impact on your savings account and keeping your wallet in good health. It also benefits the environment and your quality of life, so it’s a habit you should start right now!
But first things first – what does frugal living mean? Let’s not confuse the word frugal with cheap or inferior. You don’t need to deprive yourself or stop doing what you love in order to live frugally, and this is really important because many people reject the idea of frugal living on account of these (incorrect!) connotations.
Leading a frugal life simply means that you’ll prioritize your expenses to stop wasting money on things you don’t need, and be able to save more or actually spend those funds on projects that spark joy in your life.
Here are 20 frugal living tips with a big impact that you can start applying today.
1. Stop impulsive buying
Impulsive buying is the worst thing you can do to your wallet. Period. That said, if you tend to spend on unnecessary things uncontrollably, there’s still hope!
The first thing to do is to be present and realize when you’re getting something just because, without an actual need. So, be mindful! Whenever you find yourself reaching out for that extra item, tuck your hands in your pockets.
Then, give yourself a certain amount of time before you actually buy the item; it could be a day, 72 hours, or you could start practicing the 30-day rule for saving!
This means that you’ll still get that item you so badly want to buy…but in three days or a month. In most cases, after that time you’ll realize that you don’t really want it, or at least that you can live perfectly well without it, and you’ll end up not buying it. Hurray!
Now that money can serve a better purpose; either start your next vacations fund, go to your retirement account, or toward something that will actually add value to your life.
If by the end of that period you still crave it, then chances are you really need it and it’s going to be useful, so go get it.
2. Make a Budget
Making a budget is one of the most important habits for living frugally and simply. You need to know where your money is going if you want to cut unnecessary expenses and save more.
Start by tracking your money movements, what comes in and, more importantly, what goes out and where. This way, you’ll find out why you’re not meeting your savings goal and what expenses are emptying your bank account on a monthly basis. There’s a good chance that most of them are small purchases that seem inconsequential at the moment, but that add up big time at the end of the month.
Once you know your regular money flow, sit down and make a budget. Prioritize reaching your money goals, and plan your monthly expenditure ahead.
It’s a good idea to sit down at the end of the month and compare your expenses with your planned budget, to track how you’re doing and find out where you need to make adjustments.
This frugal living tip is going to have a gigantic impact on your life, so get started and happy budgeting!
3. Plan your Meals
One of the best tips for living frugally is planning your meals in advance: we could even refer to this as a lifesaver – because it not only saves you money and time, it helps you avoid impulsive buying (remember, the enemy to your wallet!), decreases your trips to the grocery store and is good for your health!
Plan your weekly meals ahead and make a grocery list for all the ingredients you’ll need to buy, so you make one single trip to the grocery store and avoid temptations.
Needless to say, you need to stick to that list! Whatever is not written down on that piece of paper or cellphone note, does not belong in your shopping cart.
Planning your meals ahead forces you to know what you already have and only buy what you need, so you won’t end up wasting food – one of the biggest ways of throwing your money away!
According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, food waste is estimated to be between 30 to 40 percent of the food supply. Almost half of the food goes to the trash! That is not only awful for your economy, but it’s also a shame that wholesome food that could be feeding people in need ends up discarded because you bought too much.
EXTRA TIP: If you want to take this tip to the next level, cook in bulk. Meal prep for your week and make a big batch whenever you can, especially with meals you can freeze for later. That way, you’ll have lunches and dinners ready to heat up and eat on busy weekdays and absolutely no excuses to spend money on take out or last minute fast food orders.
4. Find a Cheaper Alternative
There’s always a cheaper alternative to the first item you see in the store. Here are some ways to find it:
- Search for better prices online, or look into price matching.
- Look for similar items or different brands that could be more affordable.
- Buy generic items (female products are always more expensive, even if the product itself is the same; razors, socks, shampoo)
- Buy in bulk – this goes hand in hand with your meal planning. See what items you use regularly and keep well on the shelf, and buy them in bulk. This also applies to household products and cleaning supplies. It may be more expensive at the moment, but you’ll be saving money in the long run.
- Get a library card instead of buying new books.
If you think about it, there are tons of cheaper alternatives to the things you already buy, and adopting this habit is a great way to be frugal with your money and have a big impact on your economy, without sacrificing anything.
5. Drink more water + use a reusable bottle!
Soda cans, juice bottles, and any kind of sugary drinks are bad for your health and bad for your wallet. Exactly on the opposite side there’s water: the holy grail to your body and a very cheap, not to say completely free, alternative that will change your life for the better; making the switch is one of the absolute best frugal living tips ever.
Invest in a reusable bottle and refill it all day long; chances are you’ll find a free water supply in your office, gym, or park and you’ll spend zero on your hydration, plus avoid buying single-use plastic, which is terrible for the environment. It’s a win no matter how you look at it.
6. Don’t buy single-use items
And since we’re at it, single-use items. There’s not one positive thing about single-use items, be it plastic bottles, cutlery, food packages…you name it. You’ll be throwing away your precious money on things you’ll only discard after a few minutes when you could be saving those dollars for your next trip or that car you want to upgrade to. Yes, a few dollars won’t get you those big dreams…but a few dollars saved every week? That will get you far.
If you’re mindful of the environment and the consequences single-use plastic has on our planet, then that’s another reason to stay away from them.
7. Brew your coffee at home
First, take a deep breath. I’m not messing with your morning coffee nor cutting down that precious caffeine dose of yours. But is it really necessary to get your coffee outside? Nowadays, most coffee brands sell packages to make it at home, so you’ll still enjoy that same scent and flavor for much, much less.
Did you know that, according to Business Insider, buying coffee from a cafe costs between $1 and $5, whereas making your own only costs 16 to 18 cents a cup?
That’s something to consider if you’re looking to be more financially frugal and build a nice and fat savings account.
8. Use Alternative Transportation
Whenever you can, walk, use public transportation or ride a bike to your destination, instead of driving everywhere. This will have a great impact on your health and is an environmentally friendly option, not to talk about the gas fees you’ll be cutting down.
But gas is not the only cost to consider when driving a car; you have insurance, parking, taxes, depreciation, maintenance, registration…All these expenses could easily disappear if you chose an alternative means of transportation.
If there’s no way you’re getting rid of your car or taking the bus when you have a comfortable vehicle in the garage, then plan your trips wisely to avoid last-minute errands. If you live with your family, try to get out of the house at the same time so you make your drive more efficient, instead of going back and forth all day.
9. Get Paid To Walk
Need yet another excuse to ditch the car and walk everywhere? You can actually get paid for walking. Yes, you heard that right; you get paid for your steps, which makes this thrifty living tip a favorite.
With the Sweatcoin app you can convert your steps into sweatcoins, and use those for purchases. Needed some extra money for that item that didn’t make it in your budget? Get walking! Your legs will be phenomenal and your wallet grateful; could you wish for anything more?
10. Learn to DIY
If you’re looking for frugal living tips and ideas to cut your expenses, DIY has to be in the mix. Yes, DIY doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but practice makes the master says the quote. It can be daunting at first to imagine yourself fixing and doing everything on your own, but you can take it one step at a time, and maybe even discover a hidden talent!
If you want to really invest in your frugal living, then DIY is something you need to start doing, as it could save you thousands of dollars in maintenance, labor and call-out fees over the years.
You can begin by learning how to fix things around the house and your car, so you’re ready in case of an emergency and avoid those really expensive last-minute fees. You can step up by also learning how to mend your clothes, cut yours or a family member’s hair, and maintain your home appliances; all this will save you money big time, and it’s a practical way of getting new skills!
Keep reading: we’ve got more frugal living tips to save you money below!
11. Get a Side Hustle
If you already have a full-time job, you may be tempted to skip this point entirely. But wait! Keep reading, because getting a side hustle could be what you need to take your savings or retirement fund to another level without that much effort.
Getting a side hustle is one of the most implemented thrifty living ideas, and it could be anything from freelancing to selling handmade items or pastries, or any other activity made possible through technology. You could even turn your hobby into a profitable business!
The possibilities are endless, and the challenge of working full-time and starting a side hustle can be overcome if you follow this advice:
- Plan your time effectively. Make a schedule and maintain your days off so that it doesn’t turn into a burden.
- Do something you actually enjoy! You don’t want another job to stress about, you want something on the side that is rewarding. Make money out of your talents or favorite activities.
- Sign up to freelance jobs websites and choose wisely: do something you’re already qualified to do, instead of something you may need training for.
- Think if you want the side hustle to be short-term or long-term, and start with that mindset.
12. Sell things you no longer need
How many of us keep stuff at the back of a closet that we don’t even remember about? Decluttering is a great thing to do, selling what you no longer use? Even better! From clothing items to furniture, books, household ornaments (aka knick-knacks), you can sell anything you don’t have a real use for, as long as it’s in good condition, and it’s an easy way of making some extra money. If you’ve been wanting to try the minimalist way of life, then this is a great way to start!
Online platforms like Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or Craigslist help you promote those sales, or you can check out stores around you that buy second-hand items.
13. Buy Second-Hand
Second-hand stuff is not only good to be sold, it’s also great to be bought!
If you just sold many things from your house, it’s not the idea to replace them (duh!), but whenever you need to make an important purchase, from upgrading your car to buying furniture, electronics or books, consider hunting second-hand stores or online markets instead of limiting your search to brand new objects.
14. Pay with Cash
There’s something about paying with actual cash, seeing the bills being taken by someone else, that makes the exchange more significant. You won’t be so eager to hand out your physical money as you are taking out your card; offering your plastic is so easy that it doesn’t really feel like you’re spending any money!
If you make your purchases with cash, you’re more likely to think twice before buying.
15. Take a day off from spending
To upgrade the previous point, one of the extreme frugal ideas you could try is not spending at all for a whole day. Sounds easy, right? But wait ’til you try it; it may prove to be more challenging than you imagined.
This is a great way of realizing how frequently you spend every day and finding out the areas in which you can cut back. This habit in itself will help you cut back!
If you feel comfortable doing it, make it a weekly custom and choose one day to keep your wallet sealed.
16. Avoid Credit Card fees
Paying your credit card’s minimum fee can save you on certain occasions, but making it a habit is killing your economy and your capacity for saving because bank interests are the devil. You heard me.
Try to pay off your credit card each month – I know it may sound impossible, but there are ways to do it:
- If you have debt, aim to pay as much as you can every month – you could save all that extra cash you’re making by following these tips for your credit card payment the first few months, until you’re clear.
- Once your debt is gone, add to your budget your credit card purchases or subscriptions, and stick to it. Credit cards are awesome for when we run out of money, but if we’re not able to pay them off…then we’re not on the right track. Spend only what you already have.
17. Save Every Dollar
When trying to live frugally, every-dollar-counts. Or even better, every coin matters 😀
Save the change instead of losing it at the bottom of your bag; don’t buy things because they’re cheap and insignificant (in the long run they’re not!) and make saving even the smallest amounts a habit.
With practice and over time you’ll tend to save every disposable amount that comes your way, and even if you think a few cents won’t make a difference, do the math: saving as little as 1 dollar a day translates to 365 dollars per year. And it’s very likely that you’ll be able to save more than 1 dollar a day if you follow the advice on this post…so little money can still become big money!
Get that piggy bank out of the shelf and start filling it up.
18. Don’t Get into Debt
Loans, unless they’re for your education, are a big no-no. You’ll be able to afford that car or family vacation that otherwise wouldn’t exist, that’s true. But then you’ll be stuck paying off debt plus all the interest that loans come with for the rest of the year (or more!)
Getting into debt may be the easiest and fastest way of affording the things you desire, but it’s not the only one, and it’s definitely far from the best.
Instead, be clear on what your money goals are and the short and long-term projects you want to achieve, and create a savings plan that enables you to afford them.
Always, always aim to pay everything with money you already have. Of course, it can be challenging or nearly impossible at times, but make it your goal and try as hard as you can to reach it.
19. Think Long Term
Living in the present is a brilliant way of enjoying life and making the most of it, so keep at it. But money-wise…you need to start thinking long-term.
While the live in the moment mindset may be terrific for your energy and overall happiness, it’s not good for your wallet if you spend like there’s no tomorrow.
Because tomorrow will come, and the day after it.
Planning for your future and retirement is crucial, even if you’re decades from it and believe you have time to figure it out later. That time is right now.
Have you ever stopped to think about what you want for your life next year? Or in the next 5 years or a decade from now? Or how you’re gonna pay for your children’s college or afford the week in the Bahamas you dream for your 50th birthday?
Yes, the future will take its time approaching you; even so, money doesn’t come along unless you think long-term and save or invest now to enjoy later.
But hey, no need to panic either. Start by writing down your long-term goals and desires, like having your own home or retiring early. Keep those in mind and work towards achieving them even while enjoying your everyday life.
20. Make a list of dispensable pleasures (and get rid of them!)
We all like to go out for dinner or to skip cooking lunch by buying take-out; it’s easy, it’s yummy and it’s fun. But it’s also expensive, and most of the time bad for your health as well (especially fast food orders and take out).
It surely is a pleasure you deserve, but one that is holding you back from experiencing more financial freedom and a greater savings account, so look for alternatives that are cheaper. Here are some ideas:
If you have weekly meetings with your friends, try organizing dinner or drinks at home and only going out once a month, or every other month. You could take turns cooking or everyone can bring their specialty; it’s definitely going to be more memorable than ordering your food.
If you love taking your family to that specific restaurant every Wednesday, make something fun and special at home instead, like cooking competitions or preparing meals from different countries, and visit the restaurant only on certain occasions (birthdays, anniversary).
But this tip doesn’t only apply to food. Do you have subscriptions to allllll the streaming services and you also pay for cable? I thought so. Find out which one you use the most, and get rid of the rest!
If you keep some of your subscriptions for specific content, nowadays you can find most shows and movies on sale through Google Play or Apple, and it’s guaranteed that they’ll be much cheaper than paying a monthly fee to catch them now and again.
Remember, you have to prioritize your money goals and focus on the big impact that living frugally will have on your life. In the long run, you’ll find that cutting back on entertainment was worth it. Besides, you’ll have more time to go for a run, walk your dog or meet with friends if you don’t have excuses to be glued to the TV screen 24/7.
As a plus, find out if you really use your gym membership, and if you don’t change it for a cheaper one or exercise at home.
Living frugally can seem like a challenge in the beginning, but with persistence and a positive mindset, you’ll be able to see significant improvements in your life, in the way you manage your finances, and your overall health.
Experts say that it takes 21 days to form a new habit; why don’t you start with that 21-day goal and see from there? If at some point you struggle, remind yourself of your goals and the reason why you started in the first place; those answers should be enough to keep you going. Let us know how you do!