(Updated May 2021)
Are you looking to be more frugal? Frugality often means different things to different people. I like to think of being more Frugal as living within your means and buying quality items that will last! Sure, I love saving money, but NOT at the cost of being or buying things that are cheap.
I also believe in being intentional with your money and planning ahead to avoid spending more. These beliefs have helped my husband and I pay off our care and house and we are now completely debt-free. We have also been able to save for our retirement, our children’s college funds, and invest money (hello compound interest) all while taking at least three vacations per year (what we love to do).
Frugal living is definitely worth it and is a means to the end of your financial woes.
There’s a song I listen to with my sons on the Disney Channel that goes, “built to last, built to last. That way things don’t go too fast.” This song, of course, refers to the three little pig’s houses. The straw house, the stick house, and the strongest house that withstood the test of the big bad wolf, which was “built to last.”
You often hear people say, “They don’t make things like they used to.” I often wonder why? Why did after one year, my stainless steel refrigerators rust? Or my two-week-old shirt gets a hole in it after washing?
Are these items frugal or cheap? I would go with cheap!
Frugal means buying items, even if they cost a little more, that will stand the test of time.
Why Live Frugally?
If you want to get ahead financially, living frugally is key.
Many people do not know this but many millionaires live a frugal lifestyle. If you hope to become debt-free one day and perhaps financially independent, then living frugally can help you get there and it is not as hard or boring as it sounds. I look at it as a challenge!
Some people may roll their eyes at frugality. But I always try to remember frugality is not a life sentence. Once you have a budget in place, pay off your debt, build an emergency fund, and save for retirement then it is okay to splurge on yourself once in a while as long as you continue to live within your means.
In fact, if you want to be more frugal, you can do things such as price comparison and research items before you buy. In this way, you will be buying quality over cheap products that do not last.
25 Ways to be More Frugal
For more frugal ideas check out my other posts:
- 75 Frugal Living Tips that are Surprisingly Easy
- How to Live Frugally this year
- What is Frugal Living
- 46 Frugal Hacks to Break the Paycheck to Paycheck Cycle
1. Live below your means
There are many benefits to living below your means.
Keep your expenses low and only spend the money you have. Don’t fall into overspending to “keep up with the Joneses” or impulse buy.
Learning to spend less than you make can have a ripple effect on your finances. If you have extra money at the end of the month, you can build an emergency fund and pay down debt.
Living below your means gives you the freedom to save money and eliminate money stress. The best way to live below your means is #2: Creating a budget.
2. Create a budget
Budgeting is a key part of being more frugal. To be frugal, it helps to know how much money you are bringing in and how much you are spending per month.
So spend a little time going over your budget. If you need help, check out my budget post: New Year, New Budget
Be sure to download your free budget tracker as well:
The key to creating a budget that works for you is to track your spending for at least one month. Subtract your spending from your take-home pay and make sure you are not overspending and leaving yourself in a deficit each month. If you are overspending or right at the break-even point, find areas of your spending you can cut like pricy gym memberships, daily morning coffees, and learn to use coupons and save on your grocery bill.
It is possible to get y our finances back on track. Use the rest of the tricks below you make it happen and take action today.
Here is a post wrote explaining seven different budgets. This will help you find a budget that suits your needs and help you stick to your budget.
Not a budget person? Then check out my post on how to overcome budgeting challenges so you can start saving and eliminate money stress today.
3. Pay Cash
Have you heard of the “Budget Envelope System”? This is a way to divide your money up for certain expenses such as groceries, utilities, mortgage, entertainment, etc. All of your money is allotted so you are less tempted to spend. Psychology is behind this. Your brain has to make a second decision to take the money out of the allotted envelope. In a sense, you are tricking yourself into mini-sinking funds that will be allocated for your intentions such as food or utility bills.
4. Go shopping less
Do you find yourself throwing things into your cart that are not on your grocery list? The less time you spend in the store, the less chance you have of this happening. I only grocery shop twice a month and this helps keep my expenses down. I also have friends that use the Kroger click list and even though there is a fee (around $5) they spend less because they are not throwing things in the cart at the store.
5. Use the library
Don’t buy books. My library uses a system called Overdrive where you can check out books electronically. If you like to read a regular book (my preferred method) most libraries will have your book or borrow it for you through an intra-library loan. Audible is also a service where you can get free books. So stop wasting money on books! This tip will also reduce household clutter.
6. Find free things to do
Depending on where you live, finding free things to do may be easy. We live in a city and we are close to Detroit, MI. We are able to attend many free outdoor festivals and Detroit even has free winter festivals, one being the Winter Blast. There are ice shows in surrounding towns and in the summer the kids can attend library programs and “touch a truck” programs put on by the city. (I could go on and on about free kids’ activities, so maybe that will be a new post coming soon!)
Find some co-workers, pick a meeting spot, and start saving a ton on gas and car repair. I did this for many years and truly enjoyed riding to work and having time to catch up with my teacher friends!
8. Drive your car into the ground
I literally did this with two of my past cars. One had over 100,000 miles and the axil broke while driving it (I don’t recommend this because it is not safe, but I was okay – Thank Goodness!) Then the engine died on my last car which was a HUGE bummer because it only had 68,000 miles and it was paid off. I planned on driving that car far past the 100,000-mile marker but I was unlucky so now we have another car payment. We are on track to pay this car off in two years thanks to my husband’s hard work ethic! Let’s hope this baby last longer than the last one!
9. Buy Used
This leads me to my next rant. Buy a used car! A new car is not worth the money. You can get a HUGE discount for buying a car with a few miles on it. We bought a car with around 35,000 miles and this saved us around $16,000. The car felt like it was brand new and still had that new car smell!
10. Sell clutter for extra money
I sell my clothing on a website called Poshmark. The fact that people buy old shoes really surprised me, but this is actually a hot seller! You can also check sites such as declutter and Letgo as well as local Facebook mom-to-mom and garage sale sites.
Suggested Reading: Best Frugal Living Tips to Try This Year
11. Drink water
It is so much cheaper to drink tap water! If you do not like the taste of tap water (like me) use a filter such as Britta. The Brita 10060258362050 Large 10 Cup Everyday Water Pitcher with Filter – BPA Free – White works great!
12. Get rid of gym memberships
Gym memberships are so pricey. You can save $50-$100 per month. There are so many workout ideas that you can do that are free or frugal. Also, find low-cost “no-frills” gyms such as planet fitness. They offer memberships for $10 per month and my husband and I have been very happy with them!
Keep on reading for more frugality tips:
13. Make household items
One way to cut costs is to make your own items such as window cleaner, dryer sheets, and laundry detergent.
14. Skip the meat
Beans are a great source of protein. Try having a vegetarian night two or three nights out of the week. You can make black bean quesadillas, bean burritos, or tuna noodle!
15. Meal Plan
Use meal planning to save time and money. Meal planning will save you so much on your grocery bill and you will not be stressed out about what is for dinner.
Want to learn more about meal planning? Check out my Budget Meal Planning Series!
Related Money-Saving Posts:
- 7 Lies You’ve Heard About Meal Planning and How to Get Started
- Budget-Friendly Two-Week Dinner Meal Plan – Under $75
- How to Make Money Fast
16. Programmable thermostat
Use a programmable thermostat. You can program a lower temperature while you are at work or sleeping at night and save money monthly on your utility bill. Try the Honeywell RTH2300B1012/E1 5-2 Day Programmable Thermostat.
17. Coupon Strategically
Do not use any and every coupon you find. Coupon strategically and find coupons for items you were already going to buy. Buying things just because you have a coupon actually wastes money. Check sites like the Krazy Coupon Lady to find coupon matchups.
I personally love coupons.com because I don’t feel like I have to buy a Sunday paper and I can just clip the coupons I want.
18. Skip the plastic
Cut up your credit cards once and for all. Unless you are very disciplined, having a credit card is a bad thing. Pay cash until you have paid off your debt and then only use your credit card to build credit and pay it off monthly.
The one credit card I do use is the Target RedCard because I get 5% off every purchase and I pay it off every month. This card does save me money; however, if you do not have the discipline to only buy what is on your list and pay off your credit card bill monthly, I do not recommend getting cards that save money or offer cash back because you end up paying WAY more in interest.
19. Cut the cable
The cable bill is SO expensive and if you have bought into one of the “cable specials” you will find after around a year, the price ALWAYS goes up. There are much cheaper options such as Netflix and HULU and I promise you will never run out of things to watch.
Try an indoor antenna like the Indoor Digital HDTV Antennas Amplified 60-80 Mile Range 4K HD VHF UHF Freeview for Life Local Channels Broadcast. You will still get the basic channels like ABC, CBS, and NBC.
20. Wash your own car
Skip the pricey car washes and wash your own car. Some of the better car washes in my area charge $5-7 for a car wash. If you wash your car once a week, that is a savings of $20-28 per month. (Or you can be like me and wash your car once every four months – HA! My car is so dirty)
21. New windows
Check out the pricing of new windows. You will be paying a cost upfront, but this could save you on your cooling and heating bill in the long run.
22. Stop eating out
Going out to eat can really kill your budget. If you prepare dinner at home, you will save so much! Even if you are making $10 meals, you will still be saving and can eat pretty well at home for that amount. Side note: I am just starting mystery shopping, but you CAN eat out for free…More to come.
Pro Tip: If you do go out to eat, go on an off day and buy discounted gift cards for your favorite restaurants. When buying gift cards you have a set budget and also get a discount. My favorite place to buy used gift cards is cardpool.com.
23. Eat of cheaply
We do like to treat ourselves to a night out every now and then, but we do it totally frugally. We usually eat out on off-days and use loyalty programs and/or coupons.
Eating Cheap Resources:
24. 1/2 the number of everyday items
You probably won’t notice much if you half the amount of your toothpaste, dental floss, and laundry detergent, paper towel, dryer sheets, etc. We even had a washing machine repair guy tell us most people use WAY too much laundry detergent and you only need a small amount unless your clothes are super-dirt covered.
25. Air dry your clothing
This is an oldie but goodie. Dry your clothes outside or buy a drying rack and hang them up inside. If you like the fluffiness of drying your clothes in a dryer throw your clothes in after they are almost dry and finish up. Check out the StorageManiac 3-tier Folding Anti-Rust Compact Steel Clothes Drying Rack – 22.44″x14.57″x41.34.
25 Smart Ways to be More Frugal Conclusion…
There you have it! If you are looking to be more frugal, these tips and tricks should help you in your quest to save money and are pretty easy peasy to boot. Plus, most of them won’t leave you feeling like you are giving up too much and you can increase your savings and/or pay down debt. You are on your way to your dream life!
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What are your favorite ways to live frugally? Leave me a comment! I would love to hear from you!
Take care – Sarah
Want to be even more frugal? Check out these ideas I use too!
Rakuten – Rakuten is a money-saving site that rewards you for doing something you already do: shop online. Click through Ebates before you shop online and you will receive a percentage back of what you spent. How it works: They make money by referring you to shop at a store and then share their commission with you. The best part is it costs you nothing. Also, they have thousands of the BEST stores to choose from including Target, Kohl’s, Best Buy, Priceline, Macy’s, Petco, Bed Bath & Beyond, Groupon, Amazon and so much more. Sign up through my link and receive a $10 bonus just for signing up! Read my Rakuten Money-Saving Review here.
How to Make Money Using Rakuten
Does Rakuten Have a Referral Program?
Ibotta – Ibotta is an awesome money-saving app that allows you to receive rebates for stuff you already buy. All you have to do is find your store and search the available rebates for that week. Once you find your rebates, start shopping. Next, send your receipt by taking a picture and uploading it which is super easy. I suggest doing this right when you get home from the store so you do not forget. It is as easy as taking a simple picture and clicking your rebates! Ibotta has recently added some online shopping to their app as well, so you have more options. Use my link and receive a $10 sign up bonus when you redeem your first rebate! Read more about Ibotta here: Ibotta, Awesome Rebate and Money Making App.
Five Dollar Meal Plan –Five Dollar Meal Plan is a meal plan service that will truly help you save money. Here at I Heart Frugal, I am a firm believer in using easy tactics to save money. Meal Planning is one of my number one ways to save on the grocery bill. This service sends you ready-made, budget-friendly meal plans with a complete shopping list! The more upfront planning you do, the less you will spend at the store. Sign up here for a free two-week trial!
Pinecone Research – Pinecone is my all-time favorite of all the survey companies. Pinecone research is a company that pays $3 per survey, most taking around 20 minutes to complete. They also have higher paying surveys and I have made up to $10 for one longer survey that took around 40 minutes. This is the company I have made the most money using; however, they close their survey sign-ups for long periods of time, so sign up now because it is now open. Sign up for Pinecone Research and start earning!
Swagbucks – This is my second choice money-making site. There are so many easy ways to earn money with Swagbucks. You can choose to take surveys you qualify for or earn points by searching the Internet plus more. Redeem points for gift cards for amazing stores, my favorite being Target but Amazon is also an option plus way more. The payout if $5.00 so it is totally obtainable. One reason I love Swagbucks is that it is easy to earn points. You can complete the daily poll, watch videos, sign up for offers, or find Swagbucks codes to earn even more. Sign up for Swagbucks here.
Related Money-Saving Posts:
- 21 Things to Stop Buying to Save More Money
- How to do a Financial Checkup This Year
- 7 Common Money Mistakes and How to Fix Them
- Budget-Friendly Two-Week Meal Plan – Under $75
- Cheap Meal Plan for Two – $30 One Week All Meals
- 13 Spectacular Ways to Save on Gas