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Do you ever open your bank account and wonder why your savings account is not growing?
Are you saving up for a big purchase such as a house down payment or a car, but don’t seem to be making any progress?
Or, maybe you are starting to realize you are overspending quite often leaving you very little to save.
If any of these things hit home with you, it might be time to get a little stingy with your money and start implementing some frugal living tips in your life.
Many times people cringe a bit at the word “frugal” as it sometimes is associated with being cheap, living a very minimalist lifestyle, or depriving yourself of things you enjoy. But that’s more about extreme frugality, which is not as common.
However, below I’ll get into more about the frugal lifestyle and a list of some simple frugal living tips you can start applying to your life right now.
What Exactly is Frugal Living?
People often associate the word frugal with the word cheap, but that’s not exactly true.
People who live frugally aren’t necessarily cheap, they just try to make their dollars stretch as far as possible. Living frugal doesn’t mean that you can’t go out to eat, buy your daily latte, or go out with friends on the weekend.
It simply means that you will try to find a restaurant with a dinner special, partner up with someone to get the buy one get one lattes, and order cheaper drinks instead of the expensive fancy ones.
Frugal living doesn’t have to alter your quality of life either.
When people hear the term, sometimes they assume living frugally means sacrificing and giving up things they really enjoy just to save a bit more money.
In reality, all living frugal means is finding the best ways to make your money stretch further.
It’s not about sacrificing everything you spend money on. Nor is it about depriving yourself of the things that bring you joy. Instead, you prioritize what is important to you and cut the expenses on things that are not.
The Benefits of Frugal Living
The most obvious benefit of living frugally is that you save more money. Who doesn’t love having more money saved and invested? But, there are a few more benefits than simply that.
Pay Off Debt
With all that extra money you will be saving, you’ll have even more money to help pay down your personal debt.
Debt, if not managed properly, can be absolutely crushing to achieving financial freedom, so every penny that you can put toward getting rid of yours is huge.
Less Financial Stress
When you save more money, you have less stress. It’s as simple as that. Do you feel more comfortable having $5,000 or $8,000 in your savings account?
I’m guessing you would feel more comfortable with the bigger number because you will be able to cover your bills with more cushion.
However, living frugally and having a financial plan can help you escape living paycheck to paycheck. Frugality won’t solve all your potential financial challenges, but can start to give you some breathing room.
Money To Invest
If you don’t have any debt to pay off (or not much at all), you can use that extra money you are saving to invest. The most proven way to become financially wealthy is by making quality long-term investments.
If you are saving a couple hundred dollars each month by being frugal, you could invest that money and it could have a huge impact on your finances down the road.
An easy way to get started investing is using your frugal savings by investing your spare change is with Acorns.
But as you grow your savings, you’ll have more options to build your wealth. Living more frugally and open up investing opportunities in real estate, start your own business, or accelerate your retirement accounts.
Money For The Important Things in Life
The last benefit is that you will have more money for things that matter in life. After all, life isn’t all about money and “stuff.” It’s about the experiences that money can provide you.
Use some of that saved money to go on a vacation with your family, take that trip with your friends, or spend it on anything else that is important to you to get the most out of life.
Sometimes the personal finance community gets caught up in aggressive cutting back and never spending at all. However, if your ultimate goal is FIRE, then being more frugal is a small piece to your strategy.
But if FIRE doesn’t necessarily interest you and you are building a good financial foundation, there is nothing wrong with spending money from time to time. Life is short.
14 of the Simple and Best Frugal Living Tips
So where should you begin? In this section, we’ll share some simple frugal living tips to get you on the right path.
These will not only assist you in saving money, but will get you thinking about other ways to live a more frugal lifestyle.
We put together a list of some of our favorite frugal living tips that will be a big help to your budget.
1. Meal Prepping
Food is one of the top three expenses you’ll have (besides housing and transportation) and meal prepping is one of the best ways to save some money.
When you meal prep, you are planning out all your meals for a set period of time.
This means that when you go to the grocery store, you can purchase only the things you need. You won’t just be wandering the aisles purchasing everything that appeals to your appetite.
You will save money because you’re preparing the food for your lunches and dinners rather than going out to eat all the time. It takes some discipline to do this, but overtime you’ll reap the money saving rewards.
2. Eat At Home More Often
Another tip that ties in with the meal prepping is to simply eat at home more often.
Going out to eat can get very expensive. The average American household spends about $3,000 a year alone on dining out, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It is more often than not much cheaper to make your own food rather than eating out. When you dine out, you get a meal that’s already marked up, plus tax and tip. Eating at home allows you to purchase and make the food much cheaper and you don’t owe anything on top.
3. Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk is a great way to be more frugal with your money. Obviously, you shouldn’t purchase perishable items or items that you will never use in bulk.
However, you can (and should) purchase things like toilet paper, flower, rice, etc. in bulk because you will get it far cheaper than if you hadn’t.
Purchasing things such as eggs or dairy, which expire relatively quickly, would not be a great idea unless you know that you will use it all.
4. Shop Off-Brand
Shopping off brand is one of the best ways for people to save some money. This applies to a wide variety of topics, but most notably clothing and accessories.
People spend an incredible amount of their money on their appearance and end up purchasing high-end expensive brand name products. Opting for the non-name brand shoes or clothing could save you hundreds of dollars.
Additionally, you could opt for the off brand medications, toilet paper, paper towel, etc. as well.
There is almost always an off-brand product that works just as well as the name brand one. And just because it’s a non-brand, doesn’t mean it won’t provide value for you.
Tip: If you do like particular brands, you can check out some local thrift stores. Besides vintage items, you’ll find many decent quality brands there. You’ll spend less money and still get some quality branded items.
5. Make Your Own Coffee
Making your own coffee is a very quick way to save some extra cash for all you Starbucks addicts. If you consistently purchase $3-$6 coffees every day, it might be time for you to consider making your own.
It will cost you a few cents to make your own coffee as opposed to a few dollars every day. Doing this for a few weeks could save you hundreds of dollars.
y Drink Water
Alternatively, you could just only drink water. If you never order a soda or coffee or tea and just stick to water, you will save quite a bit of money.
And especially if you go out to eat. While soda is not overly expensive (usually free refills) it’s not very healthy. Or if you buy alcoholic drinks, that markup can be pretty crazy.
But it’s also better to avoid buying these drinks during your grocery shopping. If you just flipped on the faucet and drank a glass of water every time you were thirsty, you would be spending almost nothing on drinks (besides your monthly water bill).
You can also invest in a water filter for your faucet or a filtered container you add to your fridge.
7. Wash Your Clothes on Cold
Washing your clothes on cold is another simple way to save a few bucks.
Aside from your fridge, your washer and dryer are a few of the biggest energy hogs in your home. Washing your clothes on cold will help save a few dollars every month on utilities and will add up over time.
8. Air Dry Your Clothes
Similar to washing your clothes on cold, air drying your clothes on a clothesline is a simple frugal living tips.
This is because when you dry your clothes, the dryer is using tons of energy.
The more laundry you do, the more energy you will use, and the higher your utility bill will be. Switching to air drying your clothes could significantly reduce your utility bill.
9. Use Public Transportation
Remember when I said food was a top three expense? Well transportation is another one of those. Public transportation is a great way to save money.
Buying a car is quite expensive and so is the maintenance and gas. If you switch to public transportation, you can avoid a car payment, insurance, fuel, and maintenance.
Another option, pending how close you are to work and your lifestyle is other means of transportation. Like riding a bike, maybe a scooter, or even just walking. Not always an option pending where you live, but something to keep in mind.
Are you in an area where there is no public transportation? And maybe biking or walking is not really an option for you?
Well then maybe carpooling works better for you.
Do you and your neighbor both drive to the same area everyday? Why not switch off driving to save on gas and maintenance? The more people you have in the carpool, the more money you will save each month.
11. Consider Buying Used
Considering buying used items applies to almost everything. The most obvious is purchasing a used car over a new car.
However, be careful not to buy a used car that ends up costing more than a new car because of maintenance and upkeep. Nobody wants a lemon!
You can also buy used clothing. There are plenty of stores that offer trendy brands and accessories at a fraction of the cost to purchase them new.
12. Cancel Your Cable
Canceling or cutting back your cable is another great frugal tip. If you are someone who needs to have cable, then maybe choosing the basic package without all the upgrades is the right choice.
If you are someone who doesn’t watch TV, then just cancel your cable all together. Cable isn’t cheap so make sure it is worth it if you have it.
There are many streaming apps to choose from that are much cheaper and even some free options for extra entertainment.
13. Watch Movies at Home
Movie prices are only getting more and more expensive.
Luckily, in the world we live in today, you can watch almost any movie for free or for just a few dollars from the comfort of your own home.
Sure, you might want to go see a movie in theaters occasionally, but most times you should save the money and watch it from home.
14. Go to Happy Hour
Last, you should always go to happy hours. Well, kind of.
If you know you are going to grab drinks with co-workers, try to find a place that has happy hour specials so you can all save money.
Or if you know you are going to be grabbing an afternoon coffee, try to find a place that has a BOGO deal and go with a friend. There are plenty of ways to find cheap or discounted meals and drinks.
How Do You Become Really Frugal?
If you want to become really frugal or go more extreme, here’s how you get there.
- Ignore the myths and negative connotations. Being frugal is a personal choice
- Stop making excuses and build yourself a frugal plan
- Start living with less and realize you don’t need as much stuff
- Understand the difference between wants and needs
- Master decluttering and downsizing
- Avoid comparing yourself to what others have
- Maximize lowering the big three (Housing, Food, Transportation)
- Prioritize and deprioritize what you spend money on
What is the Difference Between Being Cheap and Being Frugal?
Many people assume being frugal means you are cheap. But these two terms actually mean two different things and should not be used interchangeably.
Cheap people think everything is overpriced, won’t buy the necessities, and cheap people will tend to save money at the expense of others.
Being frugal is about prioritizing spending, removing unnecessary spending, and living on less for a greater financial purpose.
Is It Worth Being Frugal?
Yes, generally being frugal is a better financial lifestyle choice than being cheap or consistently overspending. However, the choice is ultimately yours and a personal one.
Many people are generally looking for ways to cut expenses and save money, whether they identify as frugal or not.
Additionally, other people might be extremely frugal, which can be extensive cost cutting and minimalist living.
The ultimate goal either way is that you find more happiness in your lifestyle, you value money, and are taking care of your personal finances.
Living frugal is a great habit to build. It is unfortunate that many people associate being frugal with simply being cheap or having to sacrifice things that make you happy to save money.
Being a frugal person is definitely not that (of course, it can be as some will go the extreme route). Instead, It is learning to make your money stretch as far as it can go.
Learning some of these frugal living tips could have a huge impact on your financial well-being in the long run. Hopefully, even if some of these ideas were simple, you can start implementing them into your life.
And of course, the above are only a fraction of the tips out there. But the goal is to help you start thinking frugally and what you can do to keep money in your pockets.
This article is originally on Invested Wallet.