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The thought of saving money or cutting back can be overwhelming.
Trust me, I get it. But thankfully, I’ve learned over time that it’s not that hard to save money…especially when you’re willing to try out a few frugal tips.
Choosing to live a frugal life doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice everywhere. It also doesn’t mean that you’re cheap. Deciding to live frugally simply means that you’re willing to cut back on what’s not important to you.
Before we dive into the 45 frugal living tips, let’s talk about what frugal really means. Hint: It’s not washing out ziploc bags!
Jump Ahead To
What is frugal living?
Frugal living isn’t about always finding the very best deal. It’s about being intentional with your spending and money. Frugal living is all about maximizing the money you’re willing to spend, and not spending money on the things that are not important to you.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t shop for name brand clothes or food. It simply means that you’ll spend more on what’s of value to you, and less on what’s not as important.
It doesn’t mean that you’ll never have great toilet paper or that you’ll always eat generic brands. Frugal living is simply making a conscious choice on what you are willing to spend more money on versus what you’re willing to cut back on.
Is frugal the same as cheap?
Frugal living is not the same as cheap. A cheap person will go to the store and buy the lowest price item no matter what.
A frugal person will go to the store and look at the value of an item before buying it. They won’t necessarily pay the lowest amount for what they want to last a long time.
Benefits of frugal living
If you’re wanting to make progress on your financial journey, then frugal living is definitely worth it.
Chances are you have big goals for what you want to do with your money. Maybe you want to become debt free or be able to travel. Maybe you want to retire before the age of 55. Frugal living allows you to say “no” to what is less important and say “yes” to your financial goals.
Frugal living allows you to find ways to save more money in your day to day life so that you can put money aside in savings for what’s important to you.
How to start living frugally
The idea of totally changing your way of living in an instant can be overwhelming. The best way to start living frugally is to take it one step at a time.
Instead of deciding to follow all of these frugal tips at once, choose a few to implement into your life this week. As you start to feel more comfortable, add more of these frugal tips to your life.
The truth is that your frugal living journey will be unique to you. It won’t match anyone else’s and that’s okay. Find which frugal living tips work for you over the course of time. Stick with what you love and let go of the rest.
Be more conscious of what you’re spending money on. Before you buy something, think about if it’s worth the money. Ask yourself if you could find a better value somewhere else.
Frugal living is all about being more aware of what you’re spending money on. Instead of automatically swiping your debit card or hitting “add to cart,” ask yourself if the purchase is worth it. Is it something that you really want or need? Can you find a better value somewhere else? Are you willing to spend money on this item instead of saving the money for your big financial goals?
45 frugal tips to help you save more money this year.
Budgeting Frugal Tips
Write a budget that you can actually stick to.
Writing and following a set budget will save you more money each month. If you’ve ever written a budget that you thought was perfect but ended up going down the drain, I feel you. The first time my husband and I set a budget it was an epic fail. However as we continued to practice budgeting, we were able to eventually save over $500 each month!
Being intentional with spending is bound to save you money that you can put towards debt, bills, or even that trip to Europe that you’ve been dying to take. Need help getting started on your budget? Check out the easiest budget method ever.
Pay in cash.
It’s harder to part with cash than it is with a debit or credit card. Plus, if you pay with cash then you can’t go over budget because you won’t have the money to spend more.
We have used cash with our budgeting system for over 8 years and it helps keep our spending in line. Want free printable cash envelopes? Check out my entire guide on cash envelopes. You’ll learn exactly how they work as well as get free cash envelopes delivered straight to your inbox!
Use a budget binder
Keeping track of where you’re at financially is so important. Keeping your budget at your fingertips in a budget binder helps you spend less money and stay on budget. When you’re always looking back on your budget, it’s easier to self-correct as you go through the month instead of freaking out at month end because you’ve overspent on restaurants again. Grab your super cute Budget Life Planner HERE.
Use mini budgets to stay on track
Consistency with budgeting is so important. When you mess up (which happens to everyone!), create a mini budget instead of giving up. A mini budget is a wonderful tool to help you get back on track with your money when you feel like throwing in the towel. It is essentially a budget from today until payday. You take the balance in your checking account and create a budget with the money left to help you stay on track with your money. To learn more about mini budgets, check out this amazing post.
Have a family business meeting to review the budget
Having a weekly family business meeting to go over your week and budget can help you with so many things! It’s perfect for getting on the same page with your spouse, planning out the week to avoid the last minute McDonald’s drive thru runs, and much, much, more. Communicating about your upcoming week will help the whole family get on the same page which feels amazing!
Do savings challenges to make saving money fun
Completing a money savings challenge will help you reach your savings goals and make saving money fun. Here are 21 money savings challenge ideas for every personality type to get you started.
Spend less on gas.
GasBuddy is a website and app where you can type in your location and it will automatically tell you where the cheapest gas is in your area. It’s perfect if you are on a trip and you want to know where to stop. You can also calculate how much you will pay for gas if you take a road trip somewhere.
Say so long to cable.
It’s time to cut cable for good. If you’re still hanging on to cable then you’re wasting a good $100 each month. With the invention of Netflix, Hulu, and options like Sling TV, you can pay significantly less to have the channels and shows that you want to watch.
Plus, did anyone ever regret watching less tv? Just think about how much you can accomplish if you cut out even half of your tv watching habits! Read more about how cutting cable benefited our family in ways you wouldn’t believe HERE.
Get a home energy audit.
Most cities will come out for free and perform a home energy audit for you. The results tell you how you can save more money on your energy costs. Who doesn’t love a smaller electric bill?
Budget for the holidays all year long.
Christmas and birthdays should never surprise you because they are on the same day every year! Set aside money each month for big holidays so you don’t have to put any money on a credit card when that big holiday comes.
Need more info on how saving money using sinking funds can help you? Check out an entire guide on sinking funds here.
Food & Drinks
Pack your own lunch.
Make extra food at dinner each night so you have leftovers for the next day. In fact, set aside the amount that you’ll be saving for lunch before you serve anyone dinner. This way you know for sure that you’ll have enough food to save for lunch the next day.
If you are a creature of habit (like me), then make all your lunches on Sunday that way you have no excuse to go out for lunch. I find that if I pack all my lunches for the week then I’m setting myself up for success because I’m less likely to impulsively grab lunch on the go.
Eat at restaurants where kids eat free or for a discount.
You can still enjoy going out to restaurants with your family without having to spend $100. Find family-friendly restaurants where kids eat free or for barely anything. Kids eat for $0.99 at McAllisters and free at other places on Sunday.
All it takes is a little research to see where your children can eat free!
Make meal planning a priority.
Making a weekly meal plan can save you a ton of money because you are intentionally deciding to cook dinner to combat the restaurant option. An even better way to save money is to plan your meals based on what fruits/vegetables are in season as well as what is on sale at your grocery store.
Before you sit down to determine your meals, check what you already have available in your freezer, look through your coupons, and check the weekly ad. With good planning, you can lower your grocery bill significantly! Learn more about how our family creates a meal plan to stay on budget and save money.
Use a grocery store app for coupons.
Before you head to the grocery store, see if your store has an app that you can download. A lot of time there are extra coupons and savings that you can redeem when you checkout.
Just don’t get sucked into buying something that you don’t actually need because there is a coupon for it.
Buy generic at the grocery store.
You’ll be surprised how much you’ll save when you buy store brand groceries and items. Also, stores usually give out coupons for their own brand so that helps cut the costs too!
Make your own coffee.
Cut the extra coffee and find a way to make your own. Although Starbucks and other specialty coffee shops taste delicious (and are convenient), they are also a luxury. Do you really need the luxury?
Try out different store-bought coffee brands and become an expert at brewing a good cup of coffee. With so many options of flavored creamers out there, you’re sure to make a delicious cup each day. You can always save those Starbucks trips for special occasions or monthly luxuries.
Eat cheap dinners
You don’t have to eat elaborate meals every single evening. Your family just wants to eat. They’re not expecting a professional chef. For some great cheap dinner ideas, check out these 45 Cheap (& Delicious) Instant Pot Recipes for a huge list of ideas sure to please everyone (even picky eaters!).
Order groceries online
If you struggle with spending at the grocery store, then consider ordering your groceries online. You can see your grand total after every click and you aren’t likely to be adding the whole snack aisle to your cart like you do when you shop in the store while you’re hungry. It’s free for most (if not all) grocery stores to pick up groceries and some of them even deliver for a delivery fee and driver tip.
Get a reusable water bottle
You can spend a ton of money on water each year (especially if you drink a lot of it). Buying a reusable water bottle will help save you a ton of money over buying plastic bottles. There are so many super cute water bottles on Amazon to make sure you’re drinking enough water each day.
Only drink water at restaurants
Drinks at restaurants can add up quickly, especially when you have a family of 4 or more. You can spend $10-$12 just for drinks for 4 people. Water is free (or very cheap) at most restaurants. Order water for everyone instead. This small switch will help save you $40 a month if you go out to eat once a week.
Do 1 meatless meal a week
Create 1 meatless meal a week and save about $10 each meal. You can cook delicious meals that will taste so good, they won’t even question it. This one tip can save you about $40 a month off your grocery bill.
Shop second-hand stores for kid’s clothes.
If you haven’t opened yourself up to the wonderful world that is second-hand clothes stores for kids like Once Upon A Child, then head straight there. Some clothes still have their tags on them or have only been worn a handful of times. If you are buying for a baby, then you know that baby clothes stay in great condition because they grow out of clothes so fast.
Even better than second-hand stores? Find someone who has a child a size or two up from yours and volunteer to take their hand me downs (or offer them a great price).
Stop window shopping.
I’m going to just be perfectly honest and tell you that if I go into Target just to “look around” that I’m walking out of that store with $50 worth of stuff that I didn’t even know I wanted.
If you’re a spender then there is no safe store for you to just walk around in. Stop telling yourself that you’re going to just “see what they have” and that you “won’t buy anything.”
Instead, find a beautiful park or go for a walk around your neighborhood. Call a friend on your walk or listen to a podcast that you love.
Use Rakuten before you shop online.
Rakuten is an awesome website that allows you to earn cashback when you make online purchases. Basically, you go through Rakuten’s website before you head to your online store. Then, shop like normal!
You earn cashback for purchases and they pay you every 3 months. And by “pay out” I mean that you get LEGIT real money! Cold. Hard. Cash. Signing up is absolutely free. Plus, you’ll get $10 free when you sign up HERE.
Let items sit in your shopping cart.
Buying something online? Let the purchase sit in your shopping cart for at least 3 days. This helps minimize online impulse purchases. If it’s an emotional purchase then chances are likely the product will lose its appeal in 72 hours.
Only buy what you need.
In a world with so many options, it can be tricky to decipher between needs and wants. Many times you might feel as if you need certain things, but in reality, you only want them.
Before you buy something, ask yourself these questions to help you decide if the purchase is worth the cost:
- Do you already own something similar?
- Can you live without the product?
- Can you wait to buy this until it goes on sale or ask for it as a birthday or Christmas gift?
If you answer yes to any of those questions, then you probably don’t need the item.
Scan your receipts with Fetch Rewards.
Fetch Rewards is one of the only apps out there that will allow you to earn gift cards by simply scanning receipts. This popular and growing app is hands down one of my favorites! You can redeem your points for gift cards to places like Amazon, Target, and Starbucks.
Sign up here and use the code KP5WK to get 2,000 points added to your account after you scan your first receipt!
Stay out of the stores.
Only go to the store once a week for groceries. You can’t make spontaneous purchases if you’re not in the store (well, except for online purchases…but I’ll address that below).
Use Honey browser extension
You can install the free Honey Chrome Browser Extension to your computer and save on each online purchase. As soon as you get to checkout, Honey will get to work. It will input several coupon codes and find the one with the highest discount code. It will then automatically fill in the discount code for you.It’s a no brainer when you’re shopping online. It’s free and saves you money!
Use shopping and rewards apps
Using shopping and rewards apps are quick and easy ways to save some quick money. Here are my favorite ones that I use all of the time! 🙂
Shopkick is a free app that gives you points for walking into the store and scanning items (whether you buy them or not). Use code ALLISON to be able to earn a $5 gift card in your first 7 days when you earn your first 60 kicks.
Ibotta is a free coupon app to save money on groceries. You just scan the item and upload the receipt to get your money. It’s free and doesn’t take long to do after each trip. You can save hundreds a year using this app. You can sign-up here for your free account.
Dosh is a free cash back app. You just download the free app and link your cards. That’s it. It’s an automatic money making machine! Download it today to start earning.
Skip the cart
If you’re in a store where you’re tempted to overspend (like Target), skip the cart. You won’t be tempted to buy a bunch of impulse purchases because you’d have to carry them. This is the savings hack I use all the time at Target to resist overspending.
Have a capsule wardrobe
Having a capsule wardrobe will help save you hundreds of dollars a year on clothes. You will always look put together because everything will match. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on clothes each year to look great!
Checkout these free self-care ideas
Self-care is so important for moms! You don’t need to neglect yourself because you think it will cost too much money. You can do self-care on a budget. Here are 12 Self-Care Ideas that Won’t Cost You A Penny.
Check for $1 movies
Check your local theaters and see if they have any movie specials to save money on cheap entertainment. We used to live by a theater that had $1 movie days.
Entertainment & Personal
Host a potluck dinner for friends.
It’s fun to go out with friends for dinner, but dinner and drinks can add up! Instead, consider hosting a potluck dinner where everyone brings a dish and a drink. You’ll still have a great conversation and enjoy time with friends!
Cancel the gym and workout at home.
Many ago we canceled our gym memberships. We had a standard plan and paid $80 per month for both of us. Now that we have kids, we would have to pay for extra childcare if we went to the gym.
If you’re not going consistently, then it’s not worth the monthly subscription.
Head to the library.
The library isn’t just for books anymore! You can check out DVDs, CDs, and audiobooks. During the summer or on weekends I’ll take my kids to the library and they can each check out one or two movies. We then have a movie night with popcorn and candy that was picked up at the grocery store.
Most libraries also allow you to check out ebooks or audiobooks online. Check out your local library’s website for more info on that.
Go to free events around town.
Before you decide to splurge on the movies for entertainment, check out what free events your town has going on. Search for fun events such as parades, community markets, and holiday tree lightings. Our town even has concerts on our town square every Thursday night absolutely free!
Ditch the manicures and pedicures.
About 4-5 times a year I splurge and go to a nail salon for a pedicure. I went a few weeks ago and I paid $38 (including tip). Can you imagine keeping up the habit and going every month? Tack on a manicure and this habit can get pretty pricey. Do your nails at home instead to save serious money each month.
Groom your dog at home.
You can save $30- $40 a month each time you groom your dog at home. Pet grooming can get expensive, but you can buy pet clippers at home and do it yourself to save some big money! You can buy clippers for pretty close to $20 like this one on Amazon and start saving big!
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, trying out a few of these frugal tips should help you save money over time. When you follow a frugal lifestyle you can always save for your big money goals.
What’s one of your favorite frugal tips to save money? Let me know in the comments!