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You might be asking yourself – “What even IS frugal living?“
Being frugal doesn’t mean you are an extreme cheapskate and can’t buy anything you want in life.
Living frugally means that you make the necessary choices in your life to be less wasteful, more resourceful and thus spend less money than the average consumer. It is all about finding creative ways to save money where you can.
That means using life hacks, savings apps, rewards programs, finding freebies, and actually doing a lot more yourself than relying on society to do it for you.
Let’s explore some of my favorite frugal living tips that make our lives more sustainable.
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1. Prep your meals!
You can actually waste A LOT of money if you don’t plan your meals a head of time. Richmond from the PFGeeks said his wife and him use to waste $600 a month on groceries before they started peal prepping.
Now, they only spend less than $2 per serving using these 46 easy and cheap meal prep recipes.
I love the $5 Dollar Meal Plan for weekly meal planning. For just $5 a month they will send you weekly meal plans, costing less than $2 per person. They also offer specialty plans in case you have any dietary restrictions. Click here to check out the service for free for the first two weeks!
Related posts: 26 Cheap Crock Pot Meals
I also created a little free weekly meal planner printable. Yes, you will be signed up to our email list when you sign up for the free weekly meal planner, but we will NOT send you any spam and you can unsubscribe at any moment.
Sign up to get your free weekly meal planner!
Plan your meals for the week. Save time, money AND your sanity!
2. Drink more water.
This tip might sound kind of obvious..but nearly 80% of working Americans say they don’t drink enough water a day. Peter from selleratheart.com says to drink 10+ cups of water a way (around 8 ounces or so).
You will feel less hungry the more water you drink. By eating less you will spend less on food!
Related posts: 45 Life Hacks to Save You a Ton of Money
3. Use the unit price when grocery shopping.
Ok, I admit it. I did NOT know about this frugal life hack until I read the FinancialFreedomCrew’s post for 17+ Creative Ways to Save Money.
Instead of comparing one size to another when grocery shopping, instead use the unit price. Look at the price tags for a small print indicating another price. It will usually read something like “46.9 cents per oz” or similar.
This is the price you want to use when comparing one brand to another.
Side Note: If you hate grocery shopping, try grocery delivery services like Instacart. Or better yet, get entire meals delivered right to your door weekly with HelloFresh. If you sign up with our link, you will get a total of $80 off in your first 4 weeks with HelloFresh. Combine that with installing the Ebates Extension on your browser and activating their additional $10 cash back offer, that is a total of $90 off!
Related posts: How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half
4. Keep your drinking at home.
If you love going out to bars and clubs with friends, and drink a lot, keep the drinking part at home. According to Cody from FlytoFi.com, “Alcohol served at bars is typically marked up more than 500% over the equivalent at-home price”.
So if you keep most of your drinking at home, you can save up to $80 a month or more!
5. Cable is so 2004.
Cut the cable and get Netflix already! You can even find a friend to split the bill with.
Or better yet, let’s say you sign up for Netflix and your friend signs up for Hulu. You can share those subscriptions with each other! You grab the Netflix bill and they grab the Hulu bill.
Joyce from FinancialImpluse says “This frugal tip is an easy way of lowering your entertainment costs without sacrificing being up-to-date on the latest movies and television shows.” Check out there amazing article on 6 Practical Ways to Build Up Your Emergency Fund.
Related posts: How to Save $500 a Month
6. Yes, you can actually lower your bills.
You can lower your utility bills using a variety of strategies.
Some of these include:
- Regularly change your air filters.
- Get an energy assessment from your electric company.
- If you have an electric water heater, turn your heat down to 120 degrees.
- Conserve water and limit usage.
- Install a water heater insulation blanket to save energy on hot water.
Kristen from StepMomming.com swears by the Nest Thermostat. “Nest senses your schedule and programs your home temps for when you’re awake, asleep, or away from the house. It helps us maintain energy efficient temperatures at all times in the house, which in turn saves us lots of money!” Check out this awesome post of hers on how to save money on everyday bills!
A nifty life hack I found to help lower our monthly bills was by using the Trim app. Trim will negotiate lower bills for you, without you ever having to call anyone. Trim saved us more than $200 on our AT&T bill last year!
We no longer have AT&T but when we did, Trim was super helpful in getting our monthly bill down.
Related posts: 20+ Ways to Lower Your Monthly Bills
Side note: If you need some helpful resources to keep you organized (not just financially but in all areas of life), accountable and want to have some fun while doing it, you should check out my GYST (Get Your Shit Together) Printable Bundle! This bundle has everything from monthly budget planning sheets to goal setting sheets, journal prompts, debt tracking coloring sheets, savings goals color sheets, meal planner sheets, cheat sheets, and more!
7. Rewards apps are your friend.
I love using rewards and cash back apps to get money back for doing and buying the things I already would otherwise.
Some of my favorite ways to get rewarded for my shopping, earn points and get cash back are:
- Ibotta: Get cash back for scanning your receipts or shopping through the app online. Sign up with my link to get $10 bonus cash back today.
- Ebates: Get cash back for the things you already buy online, guaranteed more cash back than any other browser extension. Sign up with this link to get a $10 welcome bonus!
- Giving Assistant: Another cash back website where in addition to the $5 signup bonus, you can also earn cash back by completing purchases through their online portal. What makes this cash back site different is that you can opt for a certain percentage of your earnings to be donated to a Nonprofit charity of your choice.
- Dosh: All the perks of a cash back credit card without having to actually get one! Just link your current cards to the app and get cash back! No receipt scanning, no waiting for the bank to approve your rebate, nothing but instant cash back! Read our review of Dosh here.
Related posts: 22 Clever Ways to Get Free Gift Cards
8. Experience the great outdoors!
Robert from RealMoneyRobert.com says “Personally, my favorite is to go out and enjoy the outdoors!”. There are so many beautiful and FREE places to explore and visit and those experiences are priceless!
If you live in the United States, you know there is a plethora of amazing state and national parks that you can enjoy for free year round! Even though you have to pay for some entries into National Parks, with a National Park Pass you can get unlimited entries!
Read Robert’s article for 42 Painless Ways to Save More Money.
9. Buying things second hand isn’t dirty, it’s genius.
If you are always buying things brand new, you are wasting some serious money.
When I got my first place, I got all my furniture second hand from my parents and from thrift stores. One time, I found an awesome bright red desk that was in mint condition for only $35!
Melissa from FleaMarketFlipper.com says, “We buy so many things second hand! And that doesn’t mean you can’t have nice stuff! You just have nice stuff for 1/4 of the cost.” Check out their great post for 8 Household Items You Should Be Buying From The Flea Market or Thrift Store.
10. Look for cheaper cell phone plans.
The main cell phone providers like Verizon, AT&T and Sprint don’t always have the cheapest options available.
Teresa from LivingOnTheCheap.com says “If you find a plan you like, and your contract is up, ask your existing carrier if it will match the price or give you a better deal”. Check out her extremely helpful post for 16 Ways to Cut Expenses This Year.
11. Set up a family budget.
Creating a budget for you and your family will help you track your spending and save more money every month. Being in tune with the way you save your money not only changes your financial life, but other parts of your life will start to change as well.
You start to pick and choose what deserves your time and money.
Emily from JourneyofParenthood.com says ” I am a big believer in ‘spending smart’ and living within a budget.” Heck, I agree with her!
Check out her post on setting up a family budget.
Sign up to get your free budget planner!
Effectively manage your finances and grow your savings.
Money Tip: Automate your savings with Digit. I have saved over $2,000 with Digit alone. Digit automatically saves money for me based on my spending habits, scheduled bills and how much I have available . This unsettles some people that an app has access to their money like that but it uses 256-bit encryption so I know my data is secure. Learn more about Digit here.
Related posts: How to Create a Budget When You Are Horrible With Money
12. Live a greener life.
Living a eco-friendly life can be very frugal. Not only is it a more sustainable living option for yourself but it is also better for the environment.
Carissa from CreativeGreenLiving.com was able to save $270 a month just by switching to an electric car!
Dianne from TurningTheClockBack.com says “Reuse everything you can, shop second hand stores, make your own cleaning solutions, start a garden, and rethink your purchases.”
I personally love this post of hers: Stop Drinking Bottled Water to Save Money and Go Green
13. Raise your own farm animals.
This is for the more extreme frugal lifestyles. If you are up to it, raise your own farm animals for milk, cheese, or grass-fed meat. Look into deep freezing options to store your newly home-sourced animal products.
For more extreme frugal living ideas, check out these 8 extreme frugal living ideas!
Related posts: 10 Steps Closer to A More Frugal Lifestyle
14. You can be vegan on a budget.
First to my vegan readers, I apologize if you cringed at the item above. I wanted to include some vegan friendly, frugal living tips for you as well.
Most people quickly dismiss going vegan as a lifestyle option because they think it is expensive. It is quite the opposite.
You can still become vegan and have a budget friendly diet. Going to Global Food stores will help you find lower prices as well as cooking your grains and beans from scratch whenever possible.
You don’t have to get everything from the grocery store either.
I know quite a few vegans that have actually been able to grow their own food. Alina from VeganRunnerEats.com says “Research and preparation may take some time and effort, but the payoff of having your own fresh organic produce is huge. ” Check her AMAZING post on budget friendly vegan options.
Related posts: 86 Genius Tips to Save Money Every Day
In case you aren’t familiar with composting, it is a natural process of recycling organic material such as vegetable scraps into a rich soil amendment.
Linda from BlessedBeyondCrazy.com says “When your food does go bad or you have food scraps – instead of just throwing it away, compost. It is super easy to do and it is fantastic for your garden or even your yard.“
Related posts: Tips For DIY Yard Cleanup and Landscaping on a Budget
16. Declutter your wardrobe, then refresh it!
If you haven’t already hopped on the Marie Konda train, go through your closet and pitch what you don’t need. Then refresh your looks by creating a capsule wardrobe.
If you are a fashionista with a tight budget, Lisa from RetroHousewifeGoesGreen.com suggests renting out your outfits. Check out her tips for refreshing your wardrobe when it no longer sparks joy.
Related posts: 22 Creative Ways to Turn Your Clutter into Cash
17. Stop using the dryer.
If you have a woodstove, try using that as a heat source for drying your clothes in stead of using your dryer.
Try folding drying racks and set them up when you need them
Annie from CountryLivingInACaribooValley.com says “I put them out of the way in our upstairs bedroom loft. The heat from the woodstove dries the clothes for free.” Honestly, this is a genius idea I never thought of before!
Check out more ways Annie is saving money with country living in this post.
If you don’t have a woodstove, read here how to build your own clothesline!
Related posts: The Best Places to Build Your Tiny House
18. Keep your impulses in check.
Stop with the impulse buying already! Sure, we have all made the mistake of an impulse purchase here and there. But it has GOT to stop.
When you feel the urge of an impulse purchase coming, recognize it.
Then sleep on it.
Kris from MoneyDotCalm.com says “If you come across a new item that you feel is an absolute NEED, then take a picture, or take note of the make and model and GO HOME.” Check out her tips for shopping at Costco on a budget.
Related posts: 6 Simple Ways To Stop Stressing About Money And Enjoy Life
19. Find free events to go to.
Sports game tickets, concert tickets and other event tickets aren’t cheap. You won’t see frugal people spending unnecessary money on these things every month.
Sure, you can treat yourself to things like this every once and a while. Especially if your favorite band is in town!
Instead, look for free events in your area. Where we live there are multiple free summer concert series that go on in local parks, city areas, etc.
Latasha from ArtsandBudgets.com says “Search for different free concerts around your town and have a super nice date night with your partner hearing live entertainment.” Read her post for more fun and cheap date night ideas.
20. Tuesdays are the trick.
Have you ever noticed that many business designate Tuesdays as their day of their best specials and lowest prices?
For example: the movie theaters in our area have $5 movies on Tuesdays.
So if there is a day you want to take the family out for a special treat, Tuesday is your best bet.
21. Use cash envelopes.
If you can’t control your spending, try using cash envelopes. How they work is you designate a certain amount of spend money for each category of your budget monthly. Create an envelope for each category and then take out cash and place in the envelopes. When the cash runs out, stop spending!
Don’t crumble and turn to your debit or credit card either.
Cash envelopes aren’t for everyone but according to Ashley from BudgetsMadeEasy.com, they work wonders! Check out more of her expert budgeting tip in this post.
Related posts: Money Saving Challenge: Save $1,000 in 10 Weeks
22. Tap into the power of DIY!
Did you know you can make almost anything yourself. Yas! – My thoughts exactly.
From homemade laundry detergent, to hand soap and homemade cleaners, you can DIY a lot of the products you use every day. So before you make your next Target run, see what you can muster up and do-it-yourself.
Related posts: 8 Creative DIY Gifts That You Can Make Yourself
23. Use your local library.
The library is there for a reason and no, it’s not to collect dust.
A library card can get you more than free books and DVDs. Library cards can also help you get free books delivered straight to your Kindle!
According to Jarek from TimeInTheMarket.com, “Get a library card and download Overdrive (or Libby) to get free books delivered to your kindle. It’s awesome and best of all, it’s free if you’re a voracious reader. It all depends on your library’s collection but most are pretty good and a lot have audio books too which are costly otherwise!”
24. Reduce your expenses by 1%.
Look at your monthly expenses and try to find a way where you can cut them by at least 1%. Then increase your savings every month by that same 1%.
Jackie from JackieBeck.com says to repeat this every 3 months until you are at the level you want to be. Check out more of her money saving tips here.
A great way to do this is by looking at your 3-5 lowest cost expenses or subscriptions and cancelling them (if you don’t truly need them).
Then take that money that you are no longer spending on those expenses and write it down. Set up a recurring monthly investment using an app like M1 Finance and invest that same amount in a low cost index fund. Or think about transferring the amount into a Roth IRA.
Better yet, track your spending and net worth all-in-one with an app like Personal Capital. With their award-winning financial tools you can look at all your accounts in one place as well as plan for retirement and see how your investments are doing with their Investment Checkup.
Chances are you aren’t going to miss this money and in the long term, it will grow!
Sign up to get your free Money Saving Challenge Tracker printable!
Save $100 a week during the 10 week $1,000 Money Saving Challenge and set yourself up to be a money saving ninja!
25. Try a no spend month, as much as you can.
No Spend Months can help you realize what you can live without and thus decrease your overall spending because of it.
Liz from BlueAndHazel.com says “The point is, by doing a no spend month (or a few) you can save for those things you want to buy later, or at the very least it will help you to stop spending frivolously.”
Related posts: No Spend Challenge: How to Have a No Spend Week
26. Stop taking your money for granted.
Living a frugal lifestyle can help you stop taking your money for granted.
Jen from HairsOutOfPlace.com says “Life can change in a blink of an eye and don’t assume what you have today will be there tomorrow.”
So count your blessings, track your spending, try to live as sustainable and frugal as possible and always have an emergency fund stashed away. But don’t forget to treat yourself every once in a while!
Living frugally isn’t an easy journey but it can become easier if you take it day by day. Start with small changes and work your way up.
None of us think with our “personal finance brains” first but we should. This is our future we are talking about.
If you continually make good decisions with your money and budget, save and invest in a disciplined fashion, the rewards are much greater than the sacrifice. Who knows, if you play your cards right you could one day even retire early!
What are some frugal living tips that have really changed the game for you? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!
Daniella is the creator and author of iliketodabble.com. When her wife Alexandra and her aren’t globetrotting or playing with their 7+ animals, they are hustling and working towards a future of financial freedom.