We’ve collected 15 of the best frugal living tips that will help you save money on everything from groceries to utilities.
These tips are easy to follow and will make a big difference in your monthly budget.
What Does Frugal Living Mean?
Frugal living can be different from person to person, but it basically means living within your means and not spending money unnecessarily.
Frugality is being intentional with your money and belongings, similar to minimalist living.
We think of words like economically conscious, having the right money mindset, and being a thrifty person who knows how to live well while they save time and money.
3 Basic Rules to Living a Frugal Life
Before we move on to our tried and true frugal living tips, let’s talk about our basic rules for living a frugal lifestyle successfully:
- Minimize the waste you create (reuse whenever possible).
- Maximize the value of every single item you spend money on (and even some things that you don’t spend money on).
- Let go of the idea that money = happiness, and that money = popular/successful/worthy/etc. (Those are all just lies to get you to spend more money and stay miserable.)
If you live frugally, you’re making smart choices with your money and getting the most out of every penny spent.
On the other hand, if you’re living stingy, well, I hate to say it but you’re actually not being very smart with your money.
You might buy shoes that only cost a few dollars while you’re training for a marathon, and I doubt you’ll make it to marathon day before they’re worn out entirely.
I have running shoes I bought 3 years ago, and they have held up! Even though I spent $70 on them, which seems like a lot, they have lasted me longer than cheaper options and could be around for years still.
What Shopping Problems Should You Look For?
Bustle recommends looking for “lifestyle creeping”– what purchases were a luxury to you before, but now you claim are necessities? You may be buying a “necessity” you could do without!
First and foremost, think about your spending and shopping habits- and get ready to revamp them with the best frugal living tips!
What Benefits Come From Frugal Living?
Becoming frugal is just another great way to better yourself and simplify your life in ways that benefit you.
Now we aren’t trying to talk you into an extremely tight economical or minimalist living style, where you reuse bath water with your entire family to save on your water bill or something!
Yeah, that’s one way to save extra money, but we have some easier frugal living tips to integrate into your life.
But there are several benefits to being thrifty:
- Improved mental health. If you can live within your means and stop worrying about how your life compares to others, you’ll feel much less stress and less desire to “keep up” with those around you.
- Increased wealth. Who isn’t looking to save money these days? Quickly it over time, you’ll spend less money on things that don’t matter, which increases your financial wealth. You may also start spending money on things that do matter, such as memorable family vacations. Wealth isn’t just measured in dollars, after all.
- More satisfying family life. With monthly savings filling your wallet, you’ll very likely be able to right your finances to finally get out of debt, not need to work as many hours (as you were when trying to pay off debts), and have more time to relax and enjoy your family without feeling stressed that you aren’t at work.
- More freedom. You may find that frugal living is the key to being able to minimize costs to such an extent that you can reach financial freedom. Maybe it simply allows you to have a comfortable disposable income each month.
15 Frugal Living Habits That’ll Change Your Life
Plan Long-Term Purchases
Frugal people are always looking for a long-term solution, not just getting something quick and cheap to save money in the moment.
A thrifty shopper won’t be afraid to spend a little bit more money on something they know will last them longer.
Like buying a more expensive cell phone because it will stay useful for several years when a less expensive option will be obsolete soon enough.
Things like appliances, vehicles, and houses are long-haul investments that you want to get the most value out of- but don’t forget about little stuff from silverware to clothes.
When you do need to buy things, be sure to do your research so you save more with every purchase- for example, do you know the best time to buy appliances?
Clip Some Coupons
Buy smarter by only buying when savings are highest! And don’t forget to look for coupons and deals to never pay full price on items that cost more.
Use Capital One Shopping to automatically find savings and make it easier to live frugally.
Start A Budget ASAP
Knowing how much you spend every month can be truly eye opening. People get close to spending almost as much as they make and get into a lot of financial hardship because of it.
So a very essential stop to becoming frugal is to track your spending and make a budget. You need to limit your spending, not necessarily going bare-bones, but enough that you can put more money towards savings or retirment.
This is all about living comfortably now, but also settings side money for your future to live on.
Seek Better Value
Whether it’s a new pair of sneakers or a meal from the grocery store, people who live frugal life seek the most value even when they want to save money.
Frugal living is all about getting the most out of your money- a.k.a. more bang for your buck!
Instead of looking for cheaper options, think about quality as well as price with whatever you buy.
You want your purchases to continue working and provide good usage years down the road, like a great laptop or cell phone.
If you buy the $50 sneakers instead of buying the $20 pair, it’s because they will last you 3 years and are high quality.
Cheap sneakers may only last you 1 year, so you’ll spend $60 over 3 years on cheap pairs rather than just $50 on a high-quality pair.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Now, this is more than just a catch-phrase so people can save the planet- it’s also a way to help you be frugal and spend less on stuff.
What other use can you get out of old stuff?
That old shirt that’s too big? Make it into a pillowcase, a reusable grocery bag, a dog toy, or any number of endless possibilities.
You have stuff that you could donate, and that’s great! But don’t forget to make that spent money work harder for you and go the extra mile.
Whenever you buy items you’ll use, like utensils, clothes, shoes, or whatever else, make sure you keep the receipt.
You don’t need the receipt forever, but it’s important for the next step: return things you don’t need!
You may buy a shirt and realize it’s too small or too big, or you may realize you already own 3 potato mashers and no one needs that many- but you can’t get that money back without a receipt.
We also find that many people regret an impulse buy the next day but don’t return the stuff because they can’t find the receipt or they tossed it.
I suggest using one of these little accordion guys– keep it in your car, and as soon as you sit down, put it in there, so you can always find it later.
Start a Money Making Side Hustle
Living frugally means understanding the importance of saving money but also understanding that you can only save so much before you cut into your happiness.
Figure out the skills, experience, and passions you already have and find a way to make money with them.
Here are a few options for side income that we’ve done over the year:
Put Savings First
Have you heard of the saying “always pay yourself first”? This means that you should put money into your savings/investment accounts before spending your money on other things.
A good habit is to automate your savings. Not only do you want your savings right in your budget every month, but setting them on autopilot makes it easy and effortless.
Pay Off Debts
Make it a point to tackle any and all debts you’ve got against you BEFORE you get heavy into saving and investing.
The sooner debts are off your shoulders the sooner you’ll have more cash available to put into savings!
If you’re currently struggling to get out from under your debts because your income just doesn’t stretch far enough, take a look at this list of side hustle ideas.
Keep Yourself Out Of Debt
Now that you’ve paid down debt, it’s time to keep more from happening!
It’s fine to keep using credit cards, but you need to budget and make sure you have a balance you can easily pay off month to month.
Reconsider Your House
Homeownership is a big deal and a big cost! You need to think of the best option for you.
Banks will often approve you for a mortgage much higher than you can comfortably handle. A home is the largest purchase in your life and it’s not a liquid asset (meaning you can’t sell quickly).
A good rule of thumb for knowing how much your mortgage should only cost is 25%-30% of your monthly take-home, which may sway your frugal decision!
Make Use Of Everything
If you want to save money fast, simply don’t spend much money as often or at all.
Thrifty people have this quirk of using everything to the very last drop. The more you can use something, the more money you save by not buying it again soon.
If you truly want to start living frugally, get into the routine of using everything until it’s not usable and needs replacing. This includes vehicles, clothing, tools, disposables, machines, appliances, and more.
Think Using Ultimatums
When you’re going to buy something, think of it terms like this- can you live without? Do you really need it right now or have a plan for it?
Going out with friends and being social is one thing- you don’t want to give up on a good time, but buying a new swimsuit for summer or a cute top may not really matter in the grand scheme of your life right now.
Look at what you’re buying, maybe talk a picture, and walk away. You can check it out again a day or two later- but if you forget to, well, then it may not have been so important, right?
Be Your Own Handyman
Learning how to repair and reuse your own items can save you thousands of dollars every year.
Maintaining your vehicle is a great example of this.
Learning how to replace your own brakes and complete your own oil changes can save you hundreds of dollars by its self. Add in some drywall repairs, driveway sealing, roof patching, electrical work, and plumbing and you are now a money-saving savage.
The saying “knowledge is power” is so true. Most basic handyman/repair skills can be learned by a simple search on YouTube, Google, or Pinterest.
Going out for entertainment is not a bad thing, but doing so in moderation is better for your wallet.
Learn how to stay entertained at your house and spend less cash while still enjoying yourselves.
Buying a device like an Amazon Fire Stick is a great way to stay entertained at home!
Some great at-home entertainment ideas include a campfire, dinner with friends, game night, DIY projects, and movie nights.
Buy Smart Appliances & Other Items
There are so many gadgets out there that use less energy and make life easier.
We have a few examples to share, but my favorite one is smart bulbs. You can use your phone or Alexa to control when they turn on and off, plus they save you money by using less power.
I love being able to crawl into bed and tell Alexa to turn off all the lights!
Not only are there smart bulbs, but you can get better washers, dryers, thermostats, and more.
Eat Out Less- Become A Good Chef
We honestly don’t eat out much at all. We cook and eat at home and save thousands each year by not doing so.
Eating out is EXPENSIVE! You may drink water and avoid dessert to save a few bucks, but meal costs add up.
Learn how to cook for yourself and any meal you make could be cheaper- and maybe even better tasing!
Start with some basic meals and work your way up- no shame in starting simple. You will soon find that cooking at home is actually fun and the money you will save will put a huge smile on your face.
Buy In Bulk
It may be an upfront investment, but in the long run, buying food and things in bulk can save you money.
Don’t Waste Food
Use up everything in your pantry as much as possible- waste not, want not!
You may be throwing out food because you didn’t meal plan much, and that’s just tossing out your hard-earned cash.
Before you think about grocery shopping, use up what you have at home or buy a few things to work with what you have in the pantry.
Have An Emergency Fund
One of the most important aspects of personal finance is having your emergency fund set up. This is money reserved and specifically put away for unforeseen expenses such as car repairs, deaths, and surgeries.
The last thing you want to deal with during a crisis is where the money is coming from. Take the stress off an already stressful situation and have your “crunch-time” fund set up.
This will also prevent you from going into debt when something comes up and you don’t have the money to pay for it.
Normally $1,000 set to the side is more than enough for an emergency fund, but everyone’s situation is different.
Get A Smart Credit Card
If you are responsible with your money, then using a credit card with great rewards is a no-brainer.
But you’ve got to be wise about your credit cards and pick the one or ones that give you perks when you buy stuff.
The right credit cards can give you travel points, cash back, gift cards, and so much more.
If you are using credit cards it’s always important to keep track of your credit score. So many people over-use their credit cards and accrue debt that drops their scores.
Again, we don’t want you cutting out fun from your life to save money.
You may need to cut back if you’ve gone a little of the deep-end spending, but we have tips so you can travel cheap and enjoy yourself.
Buy A Reliable Used Car
Buying a used car should be your only option when it comes to frugal living.
Cars are a depreciating asset so “investing” in a new one- or even worse financing a vehicle- can kill your financial future.
After completing your research, go on a site like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace and start a search for what’s available to you right now.
Buying a reliable car is important in steering clear of large expensive repairs. Brands like Honda and Toyota are rated top-notch when it comes to reliability.
Did you know the average American spends $300 a year playing the lotto? What a waste of money! You have better odds of getting struck by lightning twice in the same day.
Although casinos and playing the lotto can be very enjoyable for the rush of winning it big, it’s not a good thing to get used to doing.
Save your money and put it elsewhere that’s more important in your life. Better yet invest that money.
Declutter Your Home
Less around the house is less to clean and less to deal with.
If you don’t need it anymore, don’t like it, don’t fit it, never use it, etc., send it straight to the donation pile and wish it good riddance!
Better yet, have a garage sale and earn a few extra bucks, that you can put towards paying off those debts or building up your savings.
While you’re on your decluttering mission, make sure your home is super well organized so you can eliminate the risk of buying duplicates because you forgot you had something or, worse, couldn’t find it!
Frugal Living Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Live a Frugal Lifestyle?
You can start living a frugal life by making more intentional life decisions, being more active in how you buy things.
Become selective about your spending habits and make sure that your purchases align with your budget goals.
And of course, look up great frugal living tips to get you going!
How Can I Become Very Frugal?
The amount of money you spend should balance out with how long it lasts.
You can become very frugal by becoming informed of your spending choices and learning to use a budget.
Understand the difference between spending less money and money-making, and make sure that you get good, lasting use out of everything you purchase.
Is Frugal Being Cheap?
No, most people would say they are two different things.
Cheap is spending as little as possible at every turn, even if the item may break or not last long.
Frugal living tips will tell you that spending your money isn’t bad if you buy something that’ll last.
Plus, being frugal doesn’t mean you’re likely to skip out on fun things like dinner with friends or parties!
Those things every now and again won’t break the bank and are important in life, and people that live frugally get that.
Is Being Thrifty Bad?
Being frugal usually is not a bad thing unless you’re allowing it to control all of your spending decisions and you start going into “super cheap” territory.
Saving money is essential, but you’re allowed to buy things you want or that bring you joy!
Don’t worry about splurging on a nice cup of coffee from time to time.
And don’t feel bad about being truly frugal and checking out the goods at thrift stores for hidden treasures.
Frugal Living Final Thoughts
When you save money, you may find yourself hitting a brick wall at times, and we aim to help you surpass them with these frugal living tips.
There are many ways to save money living frugally, without becoming cheap and lowering your quality of life.
That’s why it’s important to live a frugal life focusing on the quality you receive from your purchases.
If you have already worked on cutting back your expenses and living on less, it’s a good idea to shift your focus onto making more money!
Focus on the skills and passions you already have and learn how to monetize them to create some extra breathing room financially in your life.