Some people think being frugal is the same as stingy, cheap or being a penny pincher. This misconception is shared by many people. To shed some light on frugality and what it means, we’d like to share ways that frugal living can add more value to your life.
What is frugal living?
Frugal living is having an actionable plan for each dollar you get. Doing this gives you complete control over your finance, allows you to prioritize what matter most to you and can give you the feeling of your money stretching farther than before.
Living frugally doesn’t mean you give up your favorite things. There’s no need to ditch your favorite meal for a cheap frozen alternative. You don’t need to give up 4 day vacations for quick weekend breaks. Everyone has their own priorities and frugal living helps you cut spending on things that don’t matter to you while living large in other areas.
Does frugal mean cheap?
No! Never confuse frugal with being cheap. Cheap means choosing the least expensive option in every situation regardless of quality. Being frugal means spending less on things that don’t matter so you have more to spend on what you truly want. For example you might pass on the newest model of a car so you have an extra $100 or so a month to spend on clothes you love.
Is frugal living worth it?
100% yes! If you’re sick and tired of money controlling your life or feeling like you never have enough cash to do or buy the things you enjoy, look to frugal living. Frugal living won’t increase your pre-tax or after-tax income… progressing in your career or creating multiple sources of income will do that.
Thinking more frugally can even help you avoid living paycheck to paycheck which is something even those making six figure salaries face.
What frugal living will do is make the money you’re already spending more efficient, oftentimes bringing more satisfaction than before. If you really focus on being able to afford the things you like frugal living will come very easy.
Does frugal living have any benefits?
Firstly, frugal living will make you more proficient at making and sticking to financial plans. This is a crucial skill for achieving financial freedom and even accelerating the process of getting there.
You begin to find it easier and easier to save money which can allow you to start investing or save for a big life event. You can even use the savings to fund an emergency fund and release yourself of financial stress.
How to start living frugally
If you’ve never tried living frugally or even made a serious budget for yourself this may seem a bit daunting. Don’t worry. You don’t have to be perfect right of the bat. Even small changes you make can add up to bigger lifetime changes in the long run.
Also, not every frugal tip you read or hear will work for you and your lifestyle. That being said, start b introducing just a few and see what works. Once you have those frugal living tips fully incorporated into your spending habits you can begin to make more changes.
Its imperative that you don’t overdo it. If you cut out too may expenses too quickly you’re not going to enjoy what your life has become. You’ll become unmotivated and give up. Living frugally isn’t designed to suck out all the fun in your life and leave you sitting at home on the weekends alone just to save more money. The trick is balance.
Frugal Living Tips
Try out these frugal living tips below (slowly adding more as you go) to get started on your new path!
1. Start Budgeting
Creating and sticking to your budget is paramount for your financial success. Although sitting down and making a budget isn’t always fun it’s necessary for financial freedom and reduced stress.
Within this budget you make the rules. Cut out the things that don’t matter to you and allocate more of the budget to the things that do. Trying using a budget template if you’re just starting out.
There’s nothing wrong with occasional splurging. Just make sure you’re saving for these purchases in advance. Whether it be a trip with friends or a new pair of shoes start putting money aside for it today.
2. Meal Prep Lunches and Dinner
There’s a lot of negative connotations when it comes to male planning. It can seem like a lot of work or that the meals get stale after awhile.
I promise you it’s not bad at all and your wallet will love you for it. You will be pleasantly surprised at the savings when you have pre-planned what you’ll be eating that day.
The savings of $10 to $20 a day adds up very quickly. Meal planning could save you enough money for your car payment if done correctly!
3. Avoid “Aisle Shopping” at Grocery Stores
Walking down every aisle of the grocery store and picking out “what looks good” is a great way to spend too much on food that you’ll end up wasting anyways.
Trust me. I’ve been doing this wrong most of my life. My grocery bills we often 15% to 30% more expensive when I just started loading up the cart at will.
Go to the store with a predetermined list of items and you’ll get all the food you enjoy without the sticker shock and wasted food.
4. Sell Things You No Longer Need or Use
Shoes you haven’t worn in months? Table and chairs you replaced but decided to store in your basement? Sell the things you don’t need or use.
I have a rule for clothes that if I don’t wear a piece of clothing in over 4 months I sell it. This excludes formal wear or seasonal things.
It may seem hard at first to start getting rid of your belongings, after all it’s in our nature to hold onto things. But I promise it only gets easier to get rid of things as you go. You be left with more space in your home, a good stack of cash and it’s proven that you’re mood is better in a less cluttered environment.
5. Buy Used Whenever You Can
Buying used things is the best things your parents probably never told you about. People often think buying used is bad because they’re thinking back to the time they got hand-me-down clothes from their older sister.
Buying lightly used things for almost 50% off is incredible. Need a textbook for your semester class? By used, it’ll look and feel exactly the same. Need a new set of dining room furniture? There’s a great set for very cheap at a garage sale near you.
6. Buy a Car You Can Actually Afford
Car’s make up a HUGE portion of your monthly expenses. It’s probably a close second after your home mortgage or rent payment. These means it’s crucial to not overspend on your ride.
Buying a used car that’s around 3 to 4 years old is perfect! They’ll often still have some factory warranties incase something breaks and most of the depreciation (the thing that makes the car worth less and less each year) has already taken place, meaning you won’t have to pay for it.
7. Shop Around For Big Purchases
When it comes to insurance, home loans and other big purchases never and I mean never go with the first one you get quoted for.
Shop around for different offers and compare them. You can even use bring company A’s offer to company B and see if they can beat it. These kinds of industries are very competitive and they will oftentimes bend over backwards to get you as a customer.
Use that to your advantage!
8. Automate Saving and Investments
There’s no better way to save that to have money pulled from your paycheck automatically. You set the amount you want taken out each month and you never think about it again.
You MUST make it a habit of saving before spending and not the other way around. If you make $3,000 a month and want to start saving some money each week don’t spend your cash all willy-nilly for 30 days and save what’s left over. That’s because a lot of the time, there’s nothing left over.
Instead have maybe $500 transferred to your savings on day 1 and then live off $2,500. if you’re not already doing this then you need to start asap.
9. Take a Hard Look at Your Monthly Subscriptions
With how many subscription services there are in todays world it’s hard to keep track. The best way to keep this under control is to set a hard cap on what your willing to spend on monthly subscriptions as a whole.
Once you have a set number determine what subscriptions are the most important to you that will fit within your new budget.
If you don’t keep a close eye on what you’re being charged for month after month you’re going to be hurting.
10. Pay Down High Interest Debt
There’s no better way to eat at your hard earned money than high interest debt payments. Whether it be student loans or personal loans, you’re playing a very risky game when dealing with mound of debt and I’m afraid the consequences can be fatal.
It might not seem ideal at first but limiting your expenses in one area really help tackle debt faster. Follow strategies like the debt snowball to get out from underneath the crippling weight of debt before it’s too late.
11. Downsize Your Home
I’m not telling you to cram you and your significant other into a broom closet to save an extra $300 a month.
What this really comes down to is what you’re willing to sacrifice to afford what you enjoy the most. If home to you is just a place to store your belongings and sleep than you might not need the most expensive apartment in your city.
If you’d like to go on 2 trips a year instead of 1 or be able to eat out 5 times a month instead of 2 consider saving on that monthly housing payment.
12. Cut Your Cable
Internet companies work tirelessly to get you to bundle your internet and cable to “save more”. While this is somewhat true you might be buying something you simply don’t need.
There are very cheap alternatives nowadays like Netflix, Hulu, Peacock, Amazon and more. Look at these options before being suckered into expensive cable.
13. Lower Your Utility Bill
Don’t forget there are many ways to help lower your utility bill each month.
14. Free/Discounted Fun Activities
Keep a watchful eye on what’s happening in your area for ideas on what to do that’s fun but also free or discounted.
Happy hour is a great example. By going out to get drinks with a friend at 4 instead of 6 you could get 2 drinks for the price of one in most cases.
Need something to do on Saturday morning in the summer? Go to your local farmers market, it’s free and it’s fun to get outside and see food and art.
By timing your activities and spending a couple minutes a week scouting you area you can find some amazing ways to have fun on a budget.
15. At Home Fitness
The average gym membership can be about $58 per month, equal to almost $700 in a year. A gym may be necessary if you’re looking to lift heavy weight and build mass, however it’s not necessary at all if you’re just looking to stay active and burn some fat.
You can find great home workouts on YouTube and basic home workout equipment can cost less than 2 months at the gym.
16. No More Impulse Buying
Purchasing online is so seamless and fast it’s possible for you to purchase something before even really thinking about it. This is called impulse buying and it’s very dangerous for your finances.
17. Figure Out What You Can Live Without
Just because you can afford something doesn’t mean you should buy it. Make an effort to think of frugality as a way to fully enjoy what you care about in life. When you have your money under control, it can be easier to spend on things that matter.