Many people choose to be frugal for different reasons. Maybe they were raised to live a frugal life, so it’s second nature to them. Perhaps they are consciously frugal and are saving to pay cash for a house, or they have a child about to head off to college. Maybe they simply don’t see any other reason to be anything but frugal.
Many of these tips will help you discover new activities and save money. Frugal people know how to be resilient during tough times. Despite your current situation, you can apply many of these tips at any time.
Whatever their reason, frugal people have these things in common: They all know that every penny counts and they know where all their pennies are going. So, how frugal are you? Ready to find out?
How frugal are you?
Read the list below and see how many frugal things you are already doing or what new ways you can add to your already frugal lifestyle.
You cut bills where possible. Not all bills can be negotiated, but for the ones that can, negotiate. Call your cable provider and have them lower your bill or better yet, switch to Netflix. If you use your cell phone almost exclusively, let go of the landline. Call and see what plans are out there for your cell phone and ask if you can get a better deal. A few minutes on the phone with a helpful agent can save you money. Is there anything you can do with your car insurance to lower that bill? Read our article 4 phone calls that can lower your bill for tips.
You meal plan and eat at home. Instead of grabbing something fast while you’re out running errands, eat before you leave the house. Frugal people also plan their meals, grocery shop from their meal plan, then eat at home. Giving into temptation isn’t something they frequently do when it comes to their money. Instead of heading to the fast-food drive-up, window keep a container of snacks in the car that can calm the hungries until you are home again.
You look for deals and use coupons. More often than not the stores you shop in have coupons and discount codes waiting to be used. Get in the habit of only buying items you have coupons for and that are on sale. Once you have padded the pantry with staples, shop the sales and track your savings. Always check your receipts for errors.
You learn from your mistakes. It’s OK. Frugal people aren’t perfect. But when mistakes are made, they use it as a lesson learned. Maybe they went over budget in a particular area for the month, or caved in to the family’s snack food craving. Instead of thinking the world is coming to an end, just become more aware. If going over budget becomes a habit, reevaluate your budget.
You eat leftovers. For some people, leftovers are off the radar. But this is a simple but important tip to keep your food budget in check. Create new meals out of already prepared food — a leftover roast can be shredded and turned into barbecue sandwiches. Cold pizza slices can be refreshed with shredded cheese and other toppings, popped into the oven for a few minutes, and they seem brand new. Frugal people also make enough food to get two meals out of one. Eating leftovers will save you time and money.
You don’t mind buying things used. It becomes easy to purchase used items when you realize how much markup gets added to brand-new things. Get to know the people who work at the local thrift shop, and let them know what you are looking for. Use old clothing in a creative way — add fabric or lace to a pair of pants or change dated buttons for trendy ones on a vintage cardigan. When you look at the amount of money you have saved, the fact that the item is used is no longer important.
You remember the saying, “see a penny, pick it up; all day long you’ll have good luck.” Frugal people do. Remember, every penny counts. Don’t toss those copper pieces — put them in a jar and save for a special treat. Even putting aside just a couple of extra dollars a month out of what you saved from lowering your phone bill adds up.
You shop out of need, not as a hobby. There isn’t a long-term reward in spending money on shopping; however, there is a long term reward when it comes to saving money. Many women shop for clothes as “retail therapy,” but using our tips to develop a minimalist wardrobe will free you from the temptation to want to update your wardrobe every few months.
Instead, find a hobby that is inexpensive or free is easy if you are open to the possibilities.
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You don’t buy a gym membership. Exercise at home instead. There are tons of videos available on YouTube, or download a fitness app. Find one that fits your need and your personality and rock out in the living room. Being active outdoors is free. Running only costs a pair of running shoes. If you have access to a pool, swimming could be a great form of exercise. Play catch with the kids, or have an old-fashioned game of tag —you will spend time with the family and burn some calories!
You trade services with friends. Maybe you can trade babysitting services so you can go grocery shopping alone or go out with your husband for the evening. Trading services is free and rewarding at the same time. You are helping others while saving money.
You take your lunch to work. You will be surprised at the amount of money you save by bringing lunch from home. Learn to say no to lunch orders at work. If your reasoning for eating out every day has to do with getting away from the office, then take your homemade lunch and head to the local park. Having a change of scenery is free. You can save hundreds of dollars a year just by following this tip.
You keep track of all your bills. Other than seeing if there are any bills you can reduce, find out if you can get a discount for putting your bills on an autopay program. Frugal people look for every possible way to save money, and autopay is definitely an easy way to go about saving. For instance, some prepaid cell plans offer a discount if you enroll in automatic payment.
You create a grocery list and only buy what’s on your list. Becoming more intentional with your money is easier to do when you only buy what’s on your list. (A note: if you spot a stock-up deal on an item you use regularly, take advantage of that offer).
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You are a DIYer. Frugal people would much rather spend their time doing something than spending their hard-earned cash on paying someone else for the service. Learn to make easy home repairs, sew on a button or change a tire. You may think you need a plumber for that leaky faucet when in fact it just needs a new washer. Avoid the service call and learn how to diagnose these types of problems.
You know that time is money. In some cases, ignore the previous tip. Paying for a service instead of doing it yourself is sometimes more cost-effective. People are skilled in different areas. If that leaky faucet is now a waterfall that is unstoppable, it’s time to call the plumber.
You buy in bulk when the unit price is cheaper. Checking the unit price is always a good idea. The smallest container isn’t really where you always get the most bang for your buck. Some items are much cheaper to buy in bulk. A good example would be paper products.
You repair things. Doing a little research on repairing vs. replacing may save you a lot of money. Again, replace the rubber piece, not the whole faucet, it’s much cheaper. An old lawnmower could last for many more years by changing spark plugs and filters. Explore repair options before buying a replacement.
You find ways to entertain at home instead of going out every weekend. Renting a movie and watching it at home instead of taking the whole family to the movies will save you a lot of money. Finding ways to have fun at home is a great way to be frugal.
You aren’t married to brands. After comparing ingredients, often the store brand has the same ingredients as a major brand. Frugal people are willing to give the store brand a try. If a product is used as an ingredient in a baked item, you may not even taste the difference.
You are always looking for more ways you can be even more frugal. Frugal people are always listening and trying new things, challenging themselves to save even more. The hunt for savings is just as exciting as the savings itself!
You don’t buy stuff to impress people. Dave Ramsey has a saying: “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” If this is something you are guilty of, think of all the money you will save when you stop. The Joneses can handle their own finances; focus on your ultimate goal of getting and staying out of debt.
You turn unwanted/unused items into cash. Decluttering is a gold mine when you turn your unwanted items into cash. And nowadays being able to sell online is a lot easier than holding a yard sale. Sell on Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Marketplace or other sites.
You start a new good habit every year. Frugal people vow to start a new habit of saving or spending less every year. For instance, challenge yourself to stop buying individual water bottles and use reuseable bottles for one year. If your original habit was to buy two bottles of water per day at $2 a bottle, you will save $1,460 in one year. Now that the reusable bottle is a habit, move on to other ways to save: eliminate paper towels and use rags instead, or time your showers to save on water and heating costs.
You plan for the future and set obtainable goals. Frugal people are always working toward specific goals. They know where they plan on being in five years. Create a five-year plan, then break that plan down into doable steps. You can do this!
Being frugal is a lifestyle, a conscious choice to live below your means. Once you have become accustomed to living frugally, it’s almost impossible to spending money without thinking about it first.
How many things on this list are you already doing? Are there any on this list you are going to start implementing right away? Are you a frugal person just starting to watch all your pennies or are you in it for the long haul? Even if you aren’t doing everything on this list, you are headed in the right direction of frugality.
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My spouse and I always split an entree where ever we eat whether it is a fancy place or McDonald’s. Honestly unless you are underweight and trying to gain, half of any restaurant meal served anywhere is as much as almost anyone needs. I tip like I had two entrees, I’m not going to cheap out on my server, but the meal is half price automatically when you split it! And we are both endurance runners racking up 36 miles a week between us and play tennis five times a week each in addition to hiking, walking and other outdoor activities so it isn’t like we don’t burn our share of calories. But we like being slim and most restaurant food is way more than one serving per serving. It is a very painless way to save $ and avoid gaining weight.
Crystal Barton says
That is such a great idea! Sharing a meal will definitely help cut down on the cost of eating out. Thanks for sharing.
Darlene Appling says
We are frugal on some things nor so much on others
1. We Repair our own cars
2. I shop at thrift stores and every 3 months I get free clothing at a church. But sometimes you buy new for the same price as thrift stores.
3. We downsized a few years ago on where we live. We rent for 425 a month and it includes electric.
4. We dropped cable and got a smart tv and watch every thing on our firestick.
5. We have a platinum pass to our favorite amusement park and it includes admission at all the parks they own- cedar fair parks. And our meal plan and drink plan is good at all of them too.last year we took a vacation going to some of them and it only cost us in gas. We ate all our food at the parks.
We still like to eat out sometimes. We still like to splurge. And we can afford to when we cut corners elsewhere
We buy used appliances like stoves and refrigerators . And used furniture as well.
Not going to stop.having fun. This is where we splurge.
We don’t go to movies, we certainly don’t buy DVDs and we don’t rent movies; but, we watch a lot of movies. A lot. Everything we want to see. The two frugal secrets are patience and our public library card. The movies are new to us when we see them. We put any films we see ads or trailers for, or hear about, on hold at the library and when they’re purchased and available we pickup whatever waits on the hold shelf. Books, too. There are too many things to watch and read to do so more than once. But if we want to, almost certainly there is no wait to get from the library again.
Trash service is outrageous. At least $25 a month/more than $300 a year. We don’t pay for it. After taking our bins of multi-stream recycling every few weeks to the free community collection dumpsters at the HS quarter mile away there is a large bag of trash maybe every 6 weeks which neighbors and friends don’t mind us adding to there curb. Yard debris? We compost, chip and shred everything from our yard. In fact annually we collect and shred 200-400+ bags of leaves from our neighborhood. And use the free mulch (sometimes shredded finer) from the city’s forestry pile.
Years ago we asked the bank for an amortization statement on our mortgage. Paying very little extra each month you can eliminate over a 100 of the 360 monthly payments of a 30 year mortgage saving tens of thousands of dollars.
Just three ways in addition to things talked about here. Yes, but used — cars, clothes, appliances, furniture… don’t need the latest bells and whistles on things… all the exciting features on flashy ads a decade ago are still on those used things. Don’t eat out — food is better that you cook and know what’s in it, no servers to tip, no cooks to pay, no mark up. Repair things — DIY if you know how. Everyone knows old things were made better.
Crystal Barton says
It’s great to save where you can so you can splurge where you want to. Great tips! Thanks for sharing!
Crystal Barton says
I love how you always have your name on the waiting list at the library. Such a clever thing to do. Thanks for commenting, loved your response.
I have approximately 60 co-workers. Most do NOT brown bag it! Packing a lunch is something I do every day. Much healthier and saves me so much money! I try to track every dollar, as I write where every expense daily. It’s eye-opening! I listen to minimalists and finance podcasts for new ideas. My favorite so far is the idea to NOT spend for an entire day! I started doing this one day a week. My best friend asked me HOW I do it? Plan ahead and pack a good lunch and healthy snacks. Coffee in a thermos, etc. Now, after several attempts, about HALF of the time i can see i spend ZERO. My goal is a whole week of spending zero. Very tough when I have a minor child that is constantly asking for $. My friends and I are going to the mall, movies, to eat, etc, etc! Bartering gets me out of most predicaments! Also, those pesky utility bills! 2 income household helps a lot. MUST get more efficient at ZERO spending. On it!
My husband and I live very frugally. We drive older cars and stay out of debt. Right now, we are trying to pay off our mortgage. I found out about the “FIRE” Movement just last year. Saw a YouTube video about Mr Money Mustache retiring at the age of 30! I encourage everyone to look him up and hear what Mr. Pete Adeney has to say. Makes sense to save more than half of your income and retire EARLY. No one truly retires. Just opens up your choices to try new careers, hobbies and endeavors. No spare time is a NASTY culprit when you work fulltime. But we live in a consumer overload society and often FORGET to flex our saving muscles. No one is saving or investing. Most Americans are check to check and NOT ever ready to retire. I recently went to a Retirement Seminar. Maybe 45 of us attended. Can you believe I was the ONLY one in the room with a Pension! ? Outrageous! I recently met someone with 4 pensions!! He was in the military 20 + years, then worked for the state 15 years, 10 years at the school district and lastly, went to work at Stater Bros or Ralph’s. Yes, most of us have access to a 401k, at my work we call it a TSP. We can get a Roth Ira. But how many Americans actually have one? Think ahead and try to work at least 5 years in a Company that offers a Pension! So worth it!! Especially if you are like most Americans and SUCK at saving! ;)
Danice Gewiss says
My husband and I both pack our lunches for work. I had.someone steal my food, so now I keep it in the car. Hubby pops popcorn at home and baggies it. His co-workers are wowed by that. We’re on the Mediterranean diet so we mostly eat vegetables. I’m getting good at making Mediterranean meals. The food is interesting and fun. Hubby is a carpenter with basic plumbing and electrical skills. No need to hire anyone.