Frugal Living

16 Practical Frugal Living Tips That Are Worth Your Time

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You Should Give These Frugal Living Tips A Try!

So, you’re looking to embrace frugal living? You are definitely not alone! Before we even get into this article – we want to clear the air about frugal living because there’s a ton of terrible information out there.

It’s sometimes said that frugal living is “limiting” and “restraining” – and this is a common misconception! Frugal living is about freeing yourself from things and spending smart (not necessarily less). You still enjoy your life and the things and people it in – but you shed the excess.

Money saved from shedding the excess is then put into maximizing the things you really like – and you get more enjoyment. You might even stumble across financial security and stability. So, as you can see, “frugalness” shouldn’t be negative – but super wise!

We live frugally at home – and this lifestyle has a big impact. You don’t have to be as drastic as the times of The Great Depression – although you certainly can live a life of simplicity through necessity!

In any case, if you are looking for frugal living ideas – whether you’re a young couple or a senior – here are some frugal living tips that we follow and want to share on our blog.

Ban Impulse Spending

Rose couch with lamp and plant frugal living
Only the items you need – goes for clothing, furniture, accessories, etc…

This one is easy to talk about but definitely hard for some to follow. That’s understandable – we live in a consumerist world where you are told to “spend, spend, spend”. We don’t do that – like, at all.

In short, our first frugal living tip is to only buy what you need. Got a pair of shoes already? Wear them until they break. Got a dress you can wear? Wear it again and again – and wear it with another piece so that you change the look.

Impulse spending can be curbed by not going to the mall, unsubscribing from your favorite shop emails, and not flipping through magazines looking at things you “want”. We always ask ourselves – do we NEED it? If the answer is no, it’s a no.

If the answer is a “yes” or “maybe”, we take photos of it in-store or save the page online. Then we put the item back and wait for at least a week – if we still really want and need it after that time, we will consider buying it. (Just FIY – of course, this rule doesn’t count for essential food items).

Always Make A Grocery List

Grocery list on journal with pencil and pepper on top tips frugal living
A grocery list can be very useful!

One place where people see money fly out the door is through food. For this one, we don’t mean eating a lot – but more in the overspending on groceries and then wasting what you buy because it goes bad. You are literally throwing money into the trash this way.

To combat this – we always make a grocery list having planned out the use for the food we buy through meal planning. It’s not hard – just think about the dinners you plan to make and then plan ahead for only those products. Sure, at the store we toss in an extra item or two – but only when they fit into the already set weekly meal schedule.

Another quick frugal living tip: Eat less meat – meat is expensive and consuming less of it can actually be beneficial. Try incorporating more beans, lentils or chickpeas into your meals instead. Not only are they healthy but they are also quite affordable.

Start Budgeting & Expense Tracking

Tiny model of house on papers with calculator and pencil
Tracking expenses can be eye-opening…

If you haven’t tracked your expenses until now, then we really recommend you to start. You might actually be surprised that you spend a lot more than you think.

This is what happened to us when we started expense tracking a few years ago. These little (and often unnecessary) expenses can really add up. After we started tracking expenses, we realized that there were some areas where we really didn’t need to spend that much money – e.g. the classical coffees to go or eating out.

Since we decided to track our expenses more thoroughly, these expenses have gone down almost automatically because we realized just how unnecessary they were.

On top of tracking our expenses, we also started budgeting so we have a better idea of where our money is supposed to go. This has made it easier for us to actually save/stay accountable with our money. There can be lots of benefits to budgeting so give it a try!

Related – Why (And How) We Track Our Expenses Ever Month

Take Advantage Of Cash Back Rewards

Frugal living means living smart. It means squeezing the benefit out of everything you do already. These gains add up over time – let us tell you!

So, another frugal living tip is to take advantage of cash back rewards. This means that you earn money/points back on the things you buy anyway at stores/websites you shop at already.

A popular way to do this is through websites like Ebates and Ibotta – you earn money back when you purchase things. Obviously, this can be a dangerous game to play when you think “the more I buy the more I get back”. This is true – but you are still spending more in the first place!

If you use your credit card often, make sure you are using one that allows you to get cash back or point on purchases/usage of the card. This is usually good if you are making lots of business purchases for a home/personal business. You may as well get something for your efforts that you can se later!

Work Out At Home

Man sitting on workout mat in living room with phone and water bottle
Working out at home is quite simple…

Another frugal living we have is to quit the gym membership (which might cost you heavily per month) and try working out at home. You do have to be self-motivated – and you might have to buy a few pieces of home fitness accessories but it’s totally doable to get the same gains (and better) from the comfort of your home.

These days, there are so many YouTube videos out there for literally every single workout you can think of that personal trainers and gym memberships are slowly becoming less and less necessary.

Obviously, if you are motivated to go to the gym and you get the social aspect from going then keep on going – but consider a home workout once in a while. Even the commute money can save up fast!

Cancel Subscriptions You Don’t Use

Do you still have those things that come off of your credit card each month and you can’t be bothered to cancel them? Those add up – fast.

So, another frugal tip is to cancel the subscriptions you don’t use anymore. If you don’t read a certain magazine or the newspaper, then cancel the subscription.

If you don’t watch TV regularly or are always complaining that there is nothing on, cancel it and/or get a cheaper alternative like Netflix or any other streaming service.

The same principle goes for gym memberships – if you don’t go, cancel it so you stop wasting money and consider just doing the workout at home (read the tip above).

Cook From Scratch

Person rolling out dough on wooden board with vegetables and cheese next to it
Ever made pizza dough from scratch? It’s actually quite easy!

Cooking from scratch is something that Bruce was introduced to when he met Lisa. Often times, it can be a lot cheaper – and healthier – to cook from scratch than to buy ready-made meals.

A great example is when it comes to pre-made pasta sauce. Yes, the store version is easier and quick – but it’s usually full of sugar (which is why it’s so tasty!).

Instead, it takes nothing to mix soup stock and boiling water with some tomato paste – and voila! – you have a tomato sauce you made yourself for WAYYYYYY cheaper than store bought!

Borrow Things (If Only Used Once)

Have you ever bought a fancy dress because you needed something to wear for a wedding? Lisa certainly has – and then she never wore the dress again.

Similarly, in the past we have bought tools that we knew we only needed for one project and then probably wouldn’t touch again. Looking back that really was a waste of money.

Instead of buying, why not borrow things that you know you’ll only use once? Maybe someone in your family has a similar size as you and you can borrow a dress for a special occasion from them.

Buy Products You Can Re-Use

Sometimes, we buy products with the knowledge that we can use it again for something else. For example, you might consider using cleaning wipes that you can wash instead of the ones that you throw away after. We always use reusable cleaning supplies except for when it comes to cleaning the toilet.

This tactic doesn’t just apply to cleaning supplies – it also works when it comes to storing food, etc. Instead of foil or ziploc bags, use plastic or glass containers that you can just wash and reuse again and again.

We also use cloth dish towels instead of paper towels when cleaning up spills and messes. Instead of throwing them out, you can just wash them. Over time, this will save you quite a bit of money and you also end up creating less waste which is just nice for the planet.

Find Free/Cheap Entertainment

For this frugal living tip, we don’t mean “stop having fun” because we think that’s what people immediately think when they hear that they should cut spending on their social/fun life. In actual fact, there are plenty of things you can do that are free and cheap and just as fun.

For example, if you like exercise you can easily go for a hike/walk in the green spaces in your area. Most of the time they are free to wander – or just a small fee for parking if you have to drive. This way, you get to benefit from hiking/nature/walking, get some fresh air, and save a bit compared to another activity.

Finding cheaper alternatives are also good if your idea of “fun” is to meet up at the mall.. to which you then go and inevitably spend money (which for our purposes defeats the point). We’ve become big fans of playing tourist in our local area – your town or city might have lots to offer and you don’t even know it!

Live In A Modest House/Apartment

One of your biggest frugal living tips is to live in a place that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg – and is also the right amount of space you need to live comfortably.

Keep in mind, the larger the place, the more you will feel inclined to “fill it” with furniture items, accessories, and things that might not serve a purpose in your life besides taking up space and costing money.

When you are looking for a new place, honestly think to yourself about the amount of space you need. Don’t go off the furniture you already have – look at your life, your current direction and purpose, and genuinely look at a floor plan with intent in mind. You can always downgrade and sell things to fit into a space that works better for you.

The place we live in now is “small” by the societal standards – but it has everything WE need and so we love it here. We have filled it with the items we need in everyday life and very little excess. We also work from home so having a space that is functional and clutter-free was a priority to maintain!

Bring Lunch to Work/Uni

Lunchbox with sandwiches and apple tomato and banana next to it
Sandwiches are an easy packed lunch.

You might have noticed already how living frugal can take a bit more effort. That said, the effort pays off in the long run on your health, happiness, and finances. So, one good tip we have for living more frugal is to bring your lunch to work or to school (if you are still in university).

Yes, eating out is convenient and very social – but you can save a TON of money by preparing food at home and bringing it along for the day. In fact, if you prep the food the day before you can just toss it in a Tupperware and heat it up or eat it cold when you get there.

When Bruce worked in a more traditional office setting, he usually ate out for lunch – and WOW did it add up week after week! There were loads of people/friends around him who brought their own lunch but he never really “got it”. Years later, frugal living has shifted his mindset quite a bit.

Read More: How To Eat Healthy When You Have No Time

Cut Bad Habits (Smoking, Alcohol)

Sometimes, our personal habits can cost us a bit of money, too. We aren’t out to shame anyone – but the sooner you realize how much money goes towards some habits/activities, the sooner you might aim to cut back or cut them out all together.

Bruce knows how expensive alcohol can get – enjoying pints out with friends definitely added up back in the day. These days, he limits his consumption (to a very low level) and it shows on our finances. Luckily, neither of us smoke (or ever smoked) because that is a habit that – again, not to be dramatic – burns money away (and harms your health).

Related: Healthy Habits That Will Positively Affect Your Life

Always Pay Bills On Time

One of the most important frugal living tips we can give you is to always pay your bills on time. The fees for paying bills late can be really high so you should try to avoid that at all costs.

What is even worse is only paying the minimum balance of your credit card. If you do that again and again you might incur super high-interest payments that you’ll have to pay back on top of your original bill.

If you don’t have the money to pay off your credit card, then don’t use it. You’ll be surprised how far you can stretch the money you have when you really need to.

Fortunately, we have both always been pretty good with paying our bills on time and always paying the full amount of our credit card statements. The psychological stress of not being able to pay things back is almost worse than the financial struggle in the first place.

Drink Water

A big saver in the wallet (and on your health) is to drink more water. The benefits of water cannot be understated since we are made of mostly water – it’s literally what our body craves to stay optimal.

You know what’s expensive? Pop, juice, and any other “health drink” that is full of sugar and other stuff. You know what’s free from the tap and better for you? Water.

If you are saying “but I don’t like the taste of water” that is because you have trained your body to crave/need the sugary drinks. You won’t change overnight – but you CAN slowly wean yourself off of the crap and to a point where you actually like – yes, like – water!

Read More: Tips to Drink More Water

Try More DIY

Pencils and twine and other craft supplies on wooden table frugal living tips
DIY projects can be lots of fun!

If you spend time on Pinterest, you’ve probably come across a lot of DIY tutorials. Lisa loves discovering new projects on Pinterest and is actually sometimes really surprised just how much you can do yourself without too much of a hassle.

For example, you can make your own cleaning products by using vinegar. You can also create your own beauty products – Lisa loves using coconut oil as a moisturizer and make-up remover. We also made a “photo hanger cork-board” with twine and clothespins. It looks pretty good!

But there are also lots of DIY home decor or gift DIY projects that you can find and that often allow you to save some money compared to buying a product at the store. You just have to be willing to put some time into it and give it a try!

As always, Stay Curious,
-B&L

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Frugal Living Tips