25 Frugal Living Tips That Can Save You Money

Last Updated by Neiko Johnson on 
August 14, 2021
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Reaching financial goals may be challenging sometimes. However, with these frugal living tips, you can be assured that you will save money and reach your financial goals. You will never be intimidated by finances again. 

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about frugal living tips to get you started. 

What Is The True Meaning of Frugal Living?

Frugal living is the intentional and economical way of spending your money. Frugals prioritize what’s important to them and only spend on that. Frugality is not trading in your life luxuries for cheap knockouts.

It is, rather, a lifestyle geared towards improving your life through financial freedom. The best part of frugality is that you will afford more when you spend less.

Is Being Frugal The Same As Being Cheap?

Frugality is usually mistaken for being cheap but that couldn't be any further from the truth. Being cheap is only buying the cheapest products without taking into account the quality. It is not tipping your waiter at the restaurant. 

Being frugal is merely being intentional about your money and ditching expenses that do not serve you any purpose. Living frugally means making a conscious effort to not misuse money.

Is Living Frugally Worth It In The Long Run?

Frugal living is definitely worth it. By being frugal, you will develop self-discipline and the ability to prioritize. There are also health benefits to being frugal.

A frugal lifestyle will exponentially increase your net worth and lead to financial freedom. A plan for the future is the root of living frugally, therefore a brighter future is guaranteed. 

What Are The Pros and Cons of Frugal Living?

There are endless benefits to frugal living. Financial freedom, growing your savings, and being debt-free are the most common benefits of frugality.

There are also benefits associated with health. When you are financially secure, you will be less anxious about the future.

You may also notice more open conversations about money and investments within your circle of friends.

The cons of living frugally are that you may be called cheap. You may also have to constantly explain your lifestyle to your family and friends if they are not frugal. 

You might also lose a few people in your circle who are not frugal and will not be compassionate towards your lifestyle choice. In addition, you might disagree with a few people about money. 

How Do I Get Started With A Frugal Lifestyle?

Starting a frugal lifestyle is simple and personal. It is a one-step at a time process. You need to identify areas in your life where you can be fully frugal without straining yourself.

To be successful in your frugal journey you must ease into it. Do not start by cutting off the everyday habits that will cause growing pains. It should be organic.

There are common frugal living tips that will make the transition better. The list below consists of 25 effective frugal living tips that can save you money. 

25 Frugal Living Tips

  1. Get on a detailed budget

A budget is a projected estimation of revenue and expenses over a specific period of time and the utilization thereof. 

Budgeting gives you control over your money and helps you avoid unnecessary expenses. Getting a detailed budget that accounts for each and every cent you make will significantly reduce your spending and hold you accountable. It will also allow you to spend your money guilt-free.

How many times have you spent money then felt bad and irresponsible afterward? A detailed budget will eliminate that.

There are tons of options and budgeting systems tools that you may utilize, online and traditionally. Apps such as EveryDollar have made it easy to budget. However, there’s no correct or incorrect way of budgeting. You need to just draw up a plan and implement it. 

Also read: Budgeting 101: How to create a budget

  1. Pay off debt

One of the benefits of living frugally is the ability to pay off your debts and live a debt-free life. Paying off your debts will diminish your stress levels and increase your net worth.

To be fully frugal, you must have a plan of action to pay off your debts. 

You can use a debt repayment calculator to make an informed decision and choose a plan that will be most suitable for you. 

You can snowball your debts, that is, you can pay from the lowest to the highest. This will keep you motivated and you will get results quickly.

Alternatively, you can use the debt avalanche approach. With a debt avalanche approach, you pay the debt with the highest interest first.

Also read: How We Paid Off $240,000 In 27 Months

  1. Start meal prepping

Meal prepping is a game-changer when it comes to grocery bills (and other bills too). If you are always busy and always seem to not have time to cook, then planning your meals is the way to go.

Prepping your meals in advance will reduce the likelihood of eating out and spending more on groceries. 

Do not just prep your meals though, plan your groceries. Write a list of meals you will have for a given week then shop according to that list.

Not only will you save money by not buying unnecessary items, but you will also save it by not eating out. 

Almost everyone is guilty of ordering a take-out because they are too lazy to cook.

Check out the $5 Meal Plan for a great option for easy-to-cook meals that taste delicious. They offer a 14-day, 100% free trial. Click here to get started.

  1. Use cashback apps and coupons

What would be frugality without a good bargain? 

Coupons and cashback apps are there to save you money. Utilize them fully. Over the past few years, coupons gained a bad reputation. They are often seen as a cheapskate’s habit but they are not. 

The easiest frugal living tip is paying less. Shop the sale. Check your store's discount and their rewards programs. Some stores offer points that can be exchanged for items later on. Use them. You will lose nothing by getting on those programs. 

Apps such as Rakuten and Swagbucks will also help you discover coupons offered by your store, manufacturer, or third parties on your selected items. 

  1. Sell items you no longer need

We all have items that we no longer need. Be it clothes, furniture, gadgets, tools, or books. Or any other items you have. Rather than storing them or just throwing them away, sell them.

You will get extra cash for items that you were not going to use anyway. 

This frugal living tip has the potential of growing into a side hustle. You can sell these items on the Facebook market, a garage sale (provided Covid-19 protocols are followed) or open an Etsy shop.

Esty is an online platform where you can sell items/products to a wider range of customers. 

  1. Shop around for insurance

Most insurance companies will usually sell to you at the highest rates. Do not commit to any insurance company before you have at least compared all your options.

Negotiate your premiums. Do not settle until you find an insurance company that suits your needs and is affordable.

You can even tell one insurance company what the other is offering and they might try to beat it which is a win for you.

There are many services available to help you find the best rates. Our favorite service is Gabi. You can compare home and auto insurance rates across several companies so you make sure you get the best rates.

  1. Get rid of unnecessary subscriptions

How many things are you currently paying for that you do not utilize? Do you get the value for money on all your subscriptions?

Ditch those. They are dipping into your pockets for no reason. Cut down to only the subscriptions you utilize fully. 

Another frugal living tip on subscriptions is to unsubscribe to email listings. Those emails you receive from stores telling you about the latest “Hot Deal”.

They are designed to convince you that you need whatever the “hot deal” is. 

They are also profiled and set up in a way that will convince you to buy. They study your spending habits and discreetly advertise what you might be interested in. They are discreet adverts. Unsubscribe.

You can also use Trim that automates the process of analyzing your spending and canceling old subscriptions. The service evens negotiate your cable, internet, phone, and medical bills. On average, users save $625.

  1. Live a minimalist lifestyle

A minimalist lifestyle is living with only the things you really need. Although a frugal lifestyle is not a minimalist lifestyle, one can adopt the minimalist lifestyle to serve the frugal means. 

What this means is, by living minimally you will spend less money and be more frugal. A minimalist lifestyle curbs the urge to spend unnecessary and following trends that do not fit your goals.

You will also avoid lifestyle inflations and lead a more financially intuned life.

  1. Cancel your gym membership and work out at home

You have picked up by now that frugality prioritizes less expensive alternatives. The gym is one of the expenses that can be done without. You do not need to go to the gym to work. 

Work out at home and save the gym membership fee. You can invest it or use it to pay your debts but it shouldn’t be used for memberships.

  1. Plan to save

Making a conscious decision to save money will ensure a smooth implementation of these frugal living tips. When your mindset is geared toward saving money and you actually have a plan to do so, nothing can stop you. 

Create a saving plan for yourself. List the financial goals you want to achieve and when you want to achieve them. Work towards them. 

A clear plan of action will hold you accountable and give you a realistic timeline. You can even divide your goals into small milestones. 

  1. Automate your savings

Automatic savings forces you to stick to your savings plan. If you plan to save for a particular period to reach a financial milestone, then automating your savings is a way to go. Automated savings also ensures that you not only save but save the amount you had planned to save.

It is no secret that sometimes life happens and your monthly expenses increase. With this frugal living tip, when such happens, you will be forced to figure out a way to minimize your costs without sacrificing your savings.

  1. Build an emergency fund

Leading from frugal living tip number 11, life happens. Unplanned events that require immediate attention can happen at any time. It is therefore important to have an emergency fund for such days. 

There are some emergencies where you can just “wing it” without dipping into your savings but it is not advisable to not have an emergency fund. It will help you on rainy days.

The recommended amount to have in your emergency fund is three to six months' worth of your living expenses. You can choose how many months to save based on your comfort level.

If you have a more stable job, you may be more comfortable having a smaller emergency fund of three months. However, if your job is less stable, then you should save up to six months worth of living expenses.

The logic is that should the worst happen, you should be able to sustain yourself for at least six months before dipping into your savings and investments.

It's highly recommended that you keep your emergency fund in a separate account from your daily accounts. That way you won't use your emergency fund unless it's an absolute emergency.

We recommend using a high-yield savings account. CIT Bank is one of our favorites because of its competitive rates and low $100 minimum to open an account.

You can learn how to build an emergency fund here.

  1. Pay yourself first

Paying yourself first means taking a portion of your take-home pay and investing it. This amount will be set aside for future use. And no matter how hard that month or week is, you do not compromise it.

We recommend you invest up to your employer match, if applicable, while in debt. This allows you to use extra money to pay towards your debt so you can become debt-free faster.

Once you are out of debt, you should invest 15-20% of your household income. This is the best approach to build wealth over time.

This can be done by automating your savings, as explained in frugal living tip number 11. You can view this as a reward to yourself for work well done.

George S. Clason wrote the book  The Richest Man in Babylon about this concept. You can grab a copy by clicking on the book name.

  1. Set aside time to review your finance

Setting up goals and budgets and following all the frugal living tips mentioned so far is futuristic. This frugal living tip requires a trip to the past.

Study your spending patterns and what triggered them. Learn about where your money goes and why.

Tracking your spending will highlight what you spend on and all the habits you were not aware of. It will require you to introspect and be brutally honest with yourself. It will also help you set up a more accurate budget.

Set a monthly calendar reminder on your phone to review your finances so you don't miss this crucial step.

  1. Save for big purchases

Usually, the idea of big purchases is associated with things like cars and houses and while those are big purchases, that idea is limiting. A big purchase could be anything from travel luggage to video games, a smartwatch to a smart TV.

Basically, anything that will cost you more than $100.00 depending on your take-home pay. It does not need to be items, it can be a trip or a day spent at an amusement park.

Saving for these purchases will reduce the strain of unexpectedly paying a huge amount from one paycheck. It will also curb impulse spending and the temptation of getting into debt. 

  1. Personal care

Personal care is one of the unavoidable expenses. However, there are ways to reduce the bill. You can find alternative personal care products that cost less with the same benefits.

You can also reduce the number of products you use. 

You can also reduce your water bill by spending less time in the shower. 

You can cut your own hair, do your own nails, and mix your essential oils by yourself. 

  1. Have a no-spend week

Challenge yourself to not spend money for a week. A no-spend week will instill financial discipline and give you financial clarity. You will also develop new habits that do not require money.

A no-spend week will help you stick to your financial plans while saving more.

  1. Calculate your purchases by hours worked

Frugality is mostly a state of mind. Before you can even save money and lead a frugal lifestyle, you need to be in the right mindset.

Therefore, channel your mind to calculate your purchases by hours worked.

This frugal living tip works when you average your pay per hour to your expenses.

For example, if you are paid $15 per hour and you want to buy a Mcdonalds’ burger that costs $15. Instead of viewing the item cost as just $15, you need to view it as “I worked an hour to buy this”. 

This will bring a new financial perspective and you will end up not spending money on some items as they won’t be worth it anymore.

  1. Monthly allowance

A frugal lifestyle is not designed to rob you of the luxuries of life. You work so that you can enjoy your life. Giving yourself a monthly allowance will allow you to enjoy life while still saving money. 

The monthly allowance is your “fun money”. This money will be used to do whatever you desire. It should be budgeted and not unreasonably high.

You should not confuse giving yourself a monthly allowance with paying yourself.

The money you pay yourself will be invested and a monthly allowance will be spent. This will give you financial freedom while also securing your future. 

  1. Curb impulsive purchases

How many times have you bought something you didn’t need out of impulse?

Impulsive purchases are those items that find themselves in your shopping cart while you hadn’t planned to buy them.

To curb such purchases, you need to stick to your shopping list and sleep on anything you gravitate towards buying.

Before you buy those, go home, think about it and if after a week you still want it then you can buy it. 

  1. Have fun for free 

Living frugally is about enjoying life fully. Free fun is things like going for walks through the park or playing board games at home.

Anything that does not require you to spend money to be happy. You can check this list of 50 Free Things to Do in America from Coast to Coast.

  1. DIY before buying

Before you replace your old or broken items by buying new ones, try to fix them or make your own. It can be household items, jewelry, or anything in between.

You will save money and still have those items. However, also take into account the costs. If buying is cheaper than fixing or making then buy. 

You also should not fix things that require expertise if you do not have it, such as plumbing and electrical stuff. 

  1. Separate needs from wants

In elementary school, you were taught about needs and wants. Needs are things you cannot live without and wants are things you can live without. However, as adults, we tend to forget this. 

Along the way we pick up habits and accessories that we become so familiar with, we can't imagine life without them.

This does not mean they’re needed. One of the most important frugal living tips (or habits) is the ability to differentiate between the two.

For example, you cannot live without shelter therefore you need to pay your mortgage or rent but you can definitely live without your pumpkin mochaccino from Starbucks. It might make your day suck a bit but it is not a need. 

  1. Set goals

Above everything else, set goals. Under your why. Why do you want to be frugal? What are you aiming to achieve? This will keep you motivated and focused.

Setting realistic goals will give you a target. Something to work towards. A sense of direction. 

The most effective way to set goals is to start where you are and with what you have. 

  1. Patience

Be patient with yourself and trust the process. Some of these frugal living tips will not yield immediate results.

However, that does not mean they are ineffective. It might take time to see the benefits of frugal living but patience is truly a virtue. 

Remember you are undoing and unlearning habits that have been ingrained in you. Do not expect the process to be without hiccups. 

Final Words - 25 Frugal Living Tips

These 25 frugal living tips will change your life for the better. Adopt them and stick to them. You can tweak them however you like to best suit your needs. As stated before, frugality is subjective and personal.

Please let us know which of these frugal living tips you have adopted or are willing to adopt.

Article written by Neiko Johnson
Neiko is a personal finance expert and Co-founder of Secret to Finance. Along with his wife Alexis, they learned how to get out of debt and paid off $400,000 in 4 years.

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