Frugal living is kind of a trendy phrase going around with more people adopting a frugal lifestyle. But frugal living also gets a bad rap with lots of people thinking frugal living is about living a stark and bare lifestyle.
I’m here to tell you this is totally not the case. We have chosen a frugal lifestyle, yet you might not know it at first.
Whether you’re looking to save more money, pay down debt, create financial freedom or simplify your life making frugal choices can help you accomplish!
What does it mean to be frugal?
Frugal living is not a circumstance you find yourself in, but a decision you make to be careful in the way you spend your money.
Being frugal means you are intentional with every purchase and refuse to spend lavishly on a whim. Frugal living has nothing to do with how much money you have but more about how you choose to spend your money.
Frugal living manifests itself in many ways. Here are a few examples:
- Reducing Waste
- Practicing self restraint instead of instant gratification
- Embracing free
- Going against expensive social norms
- Being more resourceful with the things you have/purchases you make
Frugal Living is NOT:
- Only buying the cheapest products
- Depriving Ourselves of Anything
- Extreme Saving
Frugal living is not just a set of actions you take but a mindset. When you change your mindset and focus on simplifying your expenses, you’ll begin to see things differently.
Why live frugally?
There are several reasons to live frugally but two of the most common I often see are
- To have more money
- That means more money for savings and more money for retirement. It also means having less debt.
- To stress less
- When you let go of trying to keep up with the Jones’ and commit to a frugal lifestyle, you will stress less. You can think of living frugal as the Kon Mari method of your finances.
There are other hidden benefits to living frugally. For example, living frugally is good for the environment. Think about it. You’re consuming less and in turn you have less waste. Some examples of this include choosing to drive less so there is less exhaust from your car. Or when you buy less there is less packaging going to the landfill. When you use everything you buy from the grocery store, you’ll have less food waste. I think you get the point.
How do I live a frugal lifestyle?
You don’t have to overhaul your entire lifestyle. And the truth is, a lot of us have to change our habits as we start living more frugally. I’ve listed some simple ways to be more frugal.
You’ve probably already heard about meal planning and how it can help to simplify your life. But it’s a great tool to reduce your spending at the grocery store and reduce your food waste.
The whole idea behind meal planning is that you create a plan for all your meals for the week and you buy only the things you need.
Before I started meal planning, I would go to the grocery store with a vague idea of what I would buy, throw a bunch of stuff in the cart and hope for the best. I would end of wasting food I didn’t need and impulse buying “trendy” food at the grocery store. Things like hemp hearts, nutritional yeast or coconut milk (don’t get me wrong I love them all but I never actually used them).
Speaking of saving money at the grocery store, Ibotta is a great way to earn money back on your purchases without having to cut coupons. It’s a free app and has deals for most major stores, and not just grocery stores. Sure you can earn while shopping at Target, Walmart or Costco, but you can also earn money back on purchases from Amazon or Groupon. Get a $20 Welcome Bonus When You Sign Up Here For Free.
Use Free Apps To Earn Money
There are also ways that you can actually earn money on your savings. Using an app like SaverLife helps you stay motivated and on track with your savings goals PLUS you can earn cash rewards and prizes for reaching your goals! Saverlife also has some great budgeting tools and resources!
Open a High Yield Savings Account
Most savings accounts won’t earn you much interest, typically around 0.01%. By putting your savings into a higher yield savings account like this one from CIT Bank, and you can earn up to 0.45%. Let’s say you have $1,000 in your savings account. At 0.01% you’ll earn $.10 a year. With a high yield savings account you can earn up to $5 on that $1,000. It might not sound like much but over time it adds up! Plus the more you save the more you earn.
Skip the soda, juice, and La Croix and drink straight up water. And while you’re at it, skip the bottled water too. Finding a great reusable water bottle that you love can help you break your sugary drink habit and save you tons of money in the long run. (This is my favorite water bottle)
Seek out free entertainment in your community. Your library, church or community center will have plenty of free community events listed. If there aren’t any events create your own free entertainment. Some ideas include
- Go on a hike
- Volunteer at your local animal shelter (or other favorite cause)
- Go for a picnic
- Star gaze
- Tour open houses
Just get creative!
You can do it. At one point I thought we could never cut our cable but now then we did and I’ll never look back. How do we do it? We have a HD antenna to get our local channels and major network channels like ABC, CBS, and NBC. And everything else, we watch through Prime Video.
As Prime members, we get TONS of shows and movies for free. Between the antenna and Amazon TV we haven’t had to purchase any other subscription services like Netflix of Hulu.
If you’re not an Amazon Prime member you can get a free 30 days trial prime membership here to get all the prime benefits or just or use this link to try prime video for 30 days for free.
Buy Your Modem
Do you know that your internet service provider charges you every month for your modem? Some companies will charge you $9.99 a month! You can buy the same modem for $60 up front and save yourself the modem charge every month!
Clothes Shop for Next Season
It’s no secret that at the end of each season, retailers try to get rid of their stock to make way for the new season’s things. So at the end of summer, go shopping for summer clothes for the next year and do the same at the end of winter. You can save up to 70% on your clothes by shopping this way.
Create a Capsule Wardrobe For Everyone
According to Caroline Rector, the queen of capsule wardrobes from Unfancy, a capsule wardrobe is “a mini wardrobe made up of really versatile pieces that you totally love to wear.”
Essentially, you have a set number of clothing items that all go together. They can be mixed and matched and worn together. That means less “These shoes don’t match anything” or “I don’t have anything that goes with this tip”. And capsule wardrobes are not just for women. They can work for everyone in your family and save you tons of money on clothing.
Whenever you can, buy used. Facebook marketplace, Craigslist or your neighborhood Facebook page are great places to find used items including appliances, kids toys, sports equipment and more.
Make Celebrations Small But Special
Birthdays and holidays can still be special, even if they are small and simple. Several years ago, we started a new rule for Christmas. Rather than having tons of presents under the Christmas tree, we each receive 4 presents (plus stocking stuffers). Last year was quote “the best Christmas ever” and it was our smallest. Why? Because the four gifts were incredibly well thought out. The kids didn’t get tons of junk (let’s be honest) and instead got 4 fantastic presents. This holds true for birthdays and other celebrations. Small and simple celebrations does not mean they are not special.
Create a budget
Creating a budget will set you free! So many people think a budget is a restriction on your spending when in truth it gives you the freedom to spend how you want. Check out this simple way to make a monthly budget!
Track your income and expenses
Know how you are spending your money. The more you are in tune with your spending habits the more likely you are to make better decisions when it comes to spending. You’ll also be less likely to make impulse purchases. Learn how to track your spending and download a free spending log.
Avoid Late Fees
Late fees hurt and are avoidable. All it takes is a little of planning a few times a year to organize and automate your bills. Learn how to automate your finances here.
Avoid impulse buys
Take a deep hard look at how you are spending your money and assess what purchases are impulses. Then consider what the triggers are. Do you buy snacks at the gas station when your house is full of groceries? Keep snacks in your car or your purse instead. Or are you heading to Target to get out of the house for a little alone time? Go for a walk around the block instead.
Use Your Local Library
Your local library is your friend. You can get on the internet, print or fax important papers, borrow books and movies, or join a bookclub. The library is an incredible resource that so many people forget about!
How do you sustain a frugal lifestyle?
First, remember that frugal living is a choice. And it’s your choice. You have the freedom to live as frugally as you want for as long as you want.
You also must remember that you don’t have to be frugal all the time! Sometimes it’s ok to splurge. Sometimes you can make an impulse buy.
Frugal living is not all or nothing.
One question I get a lot is “Don’t you get pressure from family and friends about your frugal choices?”
Of course I do!
You know what else I get from family and friends? Parenting advice, health advice, and advice on how to take care of my dog.
No matter what you do, friends and family will have something to say about it.
While I know their input comes from a place of love, ultimately the way we spend our money is our families choice.
So you need to decide what is best for you and for your family. You can explain your commitment to frugal living and let them know that you know it’s not a lifestyle for everyone.