Frugal living isn’t about sacrifice and deprivation; it’s about living smarter, so that you can afford to live the life that you want to live – the life that you dream of living.
Frugal living means smarter spending.It's taking the money that you have and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g it as far as it will go.
It's learning how to get the best deal on everything that you buy—shopping thrift stores, yard sales, clearance racks and barter boards until you find what you want at a price that you can afford; using coupons and rebates in combination with sales to get the very best price on your groceries; and perhaps even stockpiling items when you find them at an unbeatable price.
It's also knowing when not to shop – holding off on a purchase that doesn’t fit into your budget, and patiently waiting for a sale to bring an item down to your price. When you adopt the habits of a frugal shopper, you are in full control of your spending.
Frugal living means harnessing your creativity.It’s about finding ways to make due with what you have, and learning how to do more for yourself. Do you pay someone to change your oil, or do it yourself? Sew a patch on a pair of holey jeans, or buy a new pair? Purchase trash bags, or reuse your plastic grocery bags?
Every day presents new opportunities to reuse, repurpose and create, and it’s the frugal person who recognizes those opportunities, seizes them and turns them into savings.
Why Live Frugally?Okay, so frugal living is about better money management, bargain shopping and creativity, but what does all of that add up to? Can these three things really result in a better life?
Frugal living unlocks a world of possibilities. Want to pay off all of your debts? Fund your child’s education? Enjoy the security of a fat bank account? Travel the world?
You can make it happen.
Save Money Grocery Shopping !
- Shop for produce at a local farm stand.
- Never buy coffee, soda, or other drinks or snacks out.
- Always grocery shop with a list.
- Take advantage of sales on items that you would normally buy.
- Only shop once a month.
- Keep a price book and track prices by unit cost.
- Stockpile staples when prices are low.
- Buy generic items.
- Use the Grocery Game.
- Plan meals according to what is on sale that week.
- Take advantage of rainchecks if the store doesn’t have a sale item that you need.
- Take advantage of rebates at Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid…but only if you’ll use the item and will follow through on the rebate.
- Buy enough of a sale item to last 12 weeks. That’s about how long sales take to cycle.
- Shop at discount marts: Grocery outlet, The Dollar Store, etc.
- Bring your own bags to the grocery store. Many stores offer a small discount per bag.
- Take advantage of stores that double coupons.
- Watch out for deals on things that your friends need and do the same for you.
Save Money on Cooking and Eating
- Eat less meat.
- Become a vegetarian.
- Eat leftovers.
- Cook large amounts and freeze extra for busy nights.
- Scrape out food jars to use the last little bit.
- Cook from scratch.
- Never eat out.
- Eat from your stocked pantry.
- Bring lunch from home (it’s worth it to invest in proper containers).
- Eat less. The average American eats too much.
- Don’t use the vending machines at work.
- Always have a meal plan. Always.
- Use the Once a Month Cooking system.
- Keep soup starter jars in the freezer. A little leftover this, a little leftover that. Nothing is wasted.
- Get creative with leftovers. Concoct new recipes, so nothing is wasted.
- Base most of your meals on rice or beans to cut down on meat consumption.
- Look for events that entertain and feed you at the same time. Church socials, shopping at Sam’s (think about those free samples)…
- Don’t drink soda. Drink water!
- Make your own jello cups (or applesauce cups, or pudding cups) for lunches and snacks.
- If your kids complain about generic cereal, put the generic in a name-brand box. They’ll never know the difference!
- Use Angel Food Ministries if you have one in your area.
- Rear your own chickens.
- Join a freezer club. Get together with like-minded people to exchange meals for your freezers. It’s cheaper to prepare a lot of one meal and split it up, than to prepare a bunch of different meals.
- Make your own baby food.
- Always take a snack and bottle of water wherever you go. You won’t be tempted to stop for expensive fast food or drinks.
- Grow your own produce. No room? Try a square foot garden! Or use pots on the patio.
- Freeze, can, or dehydrate your produce.
- Cook with the crockpot to avoid using the oven, which warms up the house.
- Use a convection oven to accomplish the same purpose.
Save Money on Cars and Gas
- Run errands once a week and use the most efficient route.
- Walk as much as you can.
- Stay home as often as possible.
- Keep tires filled to their proper pressure.
- Don’t suddenly stop or accelerate.
- Bum a ride with friends and chip in for gas.
- Ride your bike.
- Use a diesel car if you have one.
- Coast when you see a red light ahead, instead of hitting the brakes.
- Use public transportation.
- Try to get by with one car if you have two.
- If you have one car that you only drive a couple of times a week, consider getting rid of it and using cabs.
- Drive your car until it’s old. This works really well when you buy a car that will run for 200,000 miles.
- Keep up on your car’s maintenance.
- Turn your car off at lights.
- Coast when you can.
- Limit city driving.
- Turn off the engine and coast to a stop. (Only do this if you know your car and know what you’re doing. It could be unsafe, depending on the car)
- On a long trip, keep a steady foot.
- Make it a challenge to see how far you can go on a tank of gas.
- Use a discount card to buy gas. (Many grocery stores offer them, as well as Costco).
- Fill up early in the morning when the air is cool, and the gas is dense. You’ll get more gas and less air.
- Fill up when your tank is half empty.
- Shop around for insurance. The rates can vary a lot!
- Use gasbuddy.com to find the lowest price on gas
Save Money on Utilities
- Turn off every electrical item at the plug every night. Putting everything on power strips makes this easier.
- Keep the lights off during the day.
- Line dry clothes outside when it’s warm and sunny.
- Line dry clothes by setting dryer racks over heater vents. Use your shower rod if you need even more room.
- Let dishes air dry after running them through the dishwasher.
- Cancel the cable.
- Don’t use hot water in the summer.
- Consider a family plan for cell phones.
- Use CFL bulbs.
- Turn down the thermostat (or turn it off). Use candles in the room to raise the temperature. A set of little tea candles goes a long way.
- Don’t run the heater at night.
- Open windows on summer nights to cool down the house.
- Use a fan.
- Get rid of your land line and use your cell phone.
- Take short showers.
- Insulate your water pipes.
- Install low flow showerheads and aerators on all faucets.
- If you’re going to be in and out all day, park on the street, rather than
- using the electric garage door opener multiple times.
- If you live in an apartment, see if you can split the cost of a wireless connection with your neighbors. But make sure it’s legal first.
- Turn off the PC if you won’t be using it for an hour or more.
- Use nightlights that only come on when it’s dark.
- Use nightlights in the bathroom, so if you have to use the bathroom at night, you don’t have to turn on the light.
- Keep the freezer full. If you have to, put milk jugs filled with water in the freezer. It’s less expensive to keep a full freezer cold than an empty one.
- Never leave the water running when rinsing dishes, brushing teeth, etc. Only use the water you need.
- Have your young children shower with you, instead of giving them separate baths.
Save Money on Medical Needs
- Use a flexible spending account or cafeteria plan, so you can pay out-of-pocket medical expenses with pre-tax dollars.
- Ask your doctor to prescribe generic medication.
- Buy generic medication at Walmart or Target. They have a lot of different medications available for $4.
Saving Money on Clothing
- Limit clothes shopping.
- Shop at thrift stores.
- Shop garage sales.
- Sew, using discount fabric (easy to find at garage sales).
- Change into play clothes after school to keep good clothes looking nice.
- Re-use jewelry. If you lose a beautiful earring, put the one you have on a chain and wear it as a necklace.
Save Money Around the House
- Use only half of a dishwasher tablet at a time.
- Use rechargeable batteries for electronics and toys.
- Store batteries in the refrigerator. They last longer.
- Do repairs (paint touch ups, sewing, etc) one day a week. If you keep things in good working order, they last longer.
- Accept hand-me-downs. You can donate them if you can’t use them.
- Do home repairs yourself.
- Reuse things. An example: Plastic grocery bags can be reused as lunch bags, shoe bags, or laundry bags on vacation.
- Email for free samples. You can get some good stuff!
- Wash and re-use Ziplock bags.
- Make your own Christmas cards by making a collage from the fronts of Christmas cards you received the previous year.
- See if your local dump or transfer station offers free firewood or garden mulch. Take advantage of it.
- Use water from boiling eggs or pasta to water your plants.
- If you’ve bought stuff that you haven’t used, see if you can return it.
- If you rent, rent from a person, not a company. You’re more likely to have some of your utilities paid, especially if your place is a room inside ahouse or a basement apartment.
- Move in with roommates.
- If you and your family or friends have a lot of websites, consolidate them all into one hosting package and split the cost.
- Flush the toilet only after you use it 2-3 times.
- Use a kitchen rag instead of paper towels.
Save Money on Entertainment
- Cancel magazine subscriptions.
- Use the library for books, magazines, and movies. See if you can reserve them online and then just pick them up.
- Read newspapers online.
- Celebrate “no spend” weekends, where you don’t spend anything.
- Prepare special dinners at home, rather than going out to celebrate.
- Eat out only once a month.
- Use hotel points and airline miles for vacation.
- Split an entree with someone else when you go out for dinner.
- Do free things for entertainment: Hiking, free city concerts, board games.
- Only order from the dollar menu when eating out.
- Go to the park and have a picnic.
- Take advantage of “get in free” days at the museum, etc.
- To find special festivals, get a free state tourism guide.
- If you find that you go somewhere a lot (a zoo, amusement park), buy a season pass.
- Entertain at home. Have friends over for dinner, or have a game night and just serve snacks.
- Make your own “take out” style meals. Pizza is a good way to start. And if you do a recipe search for your favorite restaurant foods, there are some good knock offs out there!
- Trade babysitting with friends who also need a sitter.
Save Money on Miscellaneous Things
- Only get haircuts every 8-10 weeks, instead of every 6 weeks.
- Cut your own hair.
- Do your own manicures.
- Shop for Christmas gifts year round to catch the good sales.
- Compost…it’s good for the garden.
- Dumpster dive, if you’re brave and it’s legal where you are.
- Sell something every week.
- Never spend change. Collect it and put it in a savings account.
- Get rid of excess stuff. It costs less to store and maintain.
- Sell it on eBay or Craigslist.
- Or have a garage sale.
- Or give it away on Freecycle.
- Sell homemade items on Etsy.
- Don’t watch TV. It cuts down on wants.
- Get rid of the TV all together.
- Enter blog giveaways. You never know what you might win. (I won $100 last month!)
- If you get a raise, don’t increase your lifestyle. Save the extra or pay off debts!
- If you’re a two income family, make sure the second income is more than the expenses associated with working.
- Use a fee free credit card with rewards. Charge everything to get the rewards. But ONLY do this if you are diligent about paying it off every single month. If you pay interest, it isn’t worth it.
- Pay off debt as quickly as possible. Saves on interest.
- Make sure you get get the best interest rate on your savings, CD’s, etc.
- Invest your money. Make it grow.
- Use a budget.
- Use a spreadsheet to keep track of variable expenses.
- Use cash.
- Change your mindset. Instead of thinking “what do I need to buy?”, think, “what do I have that I can use?” That’s how people got through the Great Depression.
- Give stuff you don’t use to others. It gets your mind off of your situation and onto others. And it promotes a sense of contentment and gratitude.