What is a Frugal Hack?
A frugal hack is a money-saving tip that makes it easy for you to save money. In short, a frugal hack helps you save money by buying quality over quantity, spending less than you make, and being intentional with your money as not to waste it.
Are you stuck in the paycheck to paycheck cycle? If so, you will want to use these frugal hacks to get “unstuck.”
Struggling with money is stressful. And if you are like most, you will want to eliminate unnecessary money stress from your life.
In order to free yourself of money worries, you can adopt these frugal hacks to stop living paycheck to paycheck.
Your bank account and your wallet will thank you.
According to a survey done by highland solutions, 64% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck with no emergency fund since Covid hit. It is definitely frugal to keep an emergency fund and you can start saving for one by using the frugal hacks listed in this post.
How many times have you wished you had more money?
When I was younger, I didn’t make as much money and was paid hourly. I often lived the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle which was stressful and I often felt broke. Thankfully, I did not have any emergencies to overcome at that time, but that may not be the case for all. Basically, I know how tough living this way is and the stress of not knowing how to handle a financial emergency is a harsh reality for many.
Luckily, I found ways to save back then, and I continue to live a frugal lifestyle now, even though I am debt-free and have built my net worth over the years. My husband and I used our frugal ways to pay off our cars and house, and you can read more about our financial goals here.
Getting out of the paycheck to paycheck cycle can be a reality for you too and once you are able to save you can accomplish the following:
- paying off debt
- building an emergency fund
- saving for college
- saving for retirement
- saving for a down payment
If you use the frugal tips below, you can plan for a better financial future using financial discipline. Many think being frugal means you are cheap. I would advise you not to worry about what others think, because you will have money in the bank and no debt. Yet, being frugal doesn’t mean you are cheap. It means you are intentional with your money.
50 Frugal Hacks to Break the Paycheck to Paycheck Cycle
Frugal Money Hacks
If you use these frugal hacks listed below, you will save money. You can use your extra money to build savings and break the paycheck to paycheck cycle. Stop feeling poor, once and for all.
#1 Use a Budget
If you want to break out of the paycheck to paycheck cycle, a budget is key. It is essential to know how much money you have coming in each month, and how much you spend. When you track spending you can learn to cut things out that are not “needs” and get your budget back on track.
Find the perfect budget for you or try the 30-30-30-10 budget rule for a fun way to budget!
#2 Build an Emergency Fund
Once you have a budget in place, an emergency fund is also a part of your healthy financial wellbeing. In fact, living paycheck to paycheck could have started because you had an emergency and had to rely on savings and/or credit cards to pay for it.
Saving for an emergency fund can be tricky if you are living paycheck to paycheck, but if you try some of the tricks listed below, you should have some extra money at the end of the month to tuck away for an emergency. Start off with a small emergency fund of $1000 and try to add as you go. Ideally, you would want six to nine months of your expenses in case of job loss.
#3 Pay down debt
Now that you have your emergency fund in place, you can concentrate on paying down debt. If you have paid off debt, you will be able to get ahead and won’t’ have to wonder if you have enough money to cover bills each month.
Start by paying down your smallest debt first and building on that. Once your debt is paid off, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and you can start paying off your next debt. This method is called the debt snowball, made popular by the financial guru Dave Ramsey.
#4 No Spend Week
Have you ever tried a “no spend” week? It is actually kind of fun to challenge yourself and see if you can go at least a week without spending any money.
Often we stop at the store after work and spend more than intended, so the “no spend week” will eliminate these extra splurges and keep money in your pocket. Of course, pay your bills, but try to meal plan and make sure you have everything you need before the “no spend” week.
#5 30-Day Rule
See something you want to splurge on? Try waiting 30 days before you make the purchase.
Often our need for instant gratification will bury us in debt. By learning to wait 30 days before making a purchase we often realize we didn’t “need” or really “want” the item. If you still want your item and can afford it, then go ahead and get it, but giving yourself the time to process the purchase and the money you are spending will help you make a better financial decision.
# 6 Change Spending Habits
If you spend too much, changing your spending habits will help save money. Learn to track your spending and find areas that you can cut. Instead of spending $100 on a gym membership you never use, cancel the membership.
Yet, if buying something is super important to you, keep it in the budget as long as you can afford it. Tweaking your spending habits can save you a ton and put your budget back on track.
#7 Rainy Day Fund
Have you heard of a rainy day fund? A rainy day fund is different from an emergency fund.
In an emergency fund, you are saving specifically for job loss or emergencies. Yet, a rainy day fund is a fund set aside for things you know you will need eventually. You can put funds into a separate sinking fund to save for the following:
- car repairs
- house repairs
- appliance repairs
- annual bills such as insurance or taxes
- vet bills
Oftentimes, we neglect to add these items to our monthly budget, and when they come up, it seems like a surprise. But when you save for a “rainy day” you will be prepared and ready for these bills that are inevitable.
#8 Financial Goals
Financial goals are extremely important if you want to stop struggling with money and break the paycheck to paycheck cycle. If you are hoping to do well with money, hope will only get you so far. You must plan for your financial future and create goals for yourself.
Frugal Hacks for Food
#9 Use Cashback Apps
Coupon apps are one of my favorite ways to save on groceries. Mostly you are getting money back after making a purchase, but some apps offer bonuses and referral payments to help you earn more. My favorite cashback apps are as follows:
#10 Use Coupons
I love to set coupon goals. For example. after I plan my grocery list, I will see if I can get at least $10 off using coupons.
My favorite coupon site is coupons.com, but I love the regular old Sunday paper coupons too. Did you know you can get a Sunday Paper at Dollar Tree for just a dollar? You can save money on your coupons too!
Coupons powered by Coupons.com
#11 Cook at home
Cooking at home is a HUGE money-saver. I mean, a life-changing money-saver. Why? Because you can literally spend hundreds eating out every month. This will be one of your biggest money-saving frugal hacks if you can stick to it.
#12 Shop Sales Cycles
Oftentimes, stores will rotate sales cycles every six to eight weeks. This is the time to stock up on items and make sure to get enough to hold you over until the next sale.
#13 Meal Prep
Using meal prepping will ensure you eat at home and do not waste money going out to eat. You can try meal prepping on a budget and prepare meats and at the beginning of the weak so you can save time during the busy week. If your meals are already made, you are less likely to order take-out.
#14 Stick to a List
Using a list while shopping, can and will help. It is easy to go off your list wandering around the store, so try to organize your shopping list by category. Pay attention to where items are located so you are not tempted to “shop around” and buy more than you need.
Also, try giving store pick-up a try. You can add items to your list, check out, and have your groceries delivered to the parking lot. Many are familiar with this after Covid, but since you are not actually in the store, it saves you from throwing extra items in the cart. I personally use Target pick-up through the Target app. It is free and you basically tell them when you are on your way and when you arrive. I have never had to sit in my car longer than five minutes. It is great!
#15 Meal Planning
Meal Planning is one of my favorite ways to save money. You can use what you have on hand to plan meals and then look through local flyers to add additional meals with things that are on sale. You can save so much, just by eating at home. Check out my popular budget meal planning posts below:
- Budget Meal Plan – $75 Grocery List for Two Weeks
- Budget Meal Plan for Two
- Aldi Meal Plan
- Summer Meal Plan
- Fall Meal Plan
#16 Batch Cook
Batch cooking can save you time and money. You will be more likely to eat at home if the meals are already made.
Pick a day -I like Sunday- and cook up some taco meat for tacos or taco salad, and spaghetti sauce, You can also make stuffed shells, lasagna, or baked ziti and freeze or keep in the fridge until you are ready to eat depending on your timeline. Batch cooking will help your week run much more smoothly.
#17 Eat Leftovers
Eating leftovers will help eliminate waste and save money. Make a large batch of something and eat it for two days. I like to do this with my budget chili recipe.
#18 Pack a Lunch
Start brown-bagging it to work and your wallet will thank you. If you are spending $10 a day on lunch and a drink, that is $50 a week you can use to pay down debt, pay bills, or save. Sandwiches are a great option with a piece of fruit or yogurt.
#19 Buy in bulk
If you have certain foods you eat often, it will pay to buy in bulk. You can usually get a much cheaper unit price when you buy more. Just make sure it is something you will use.
#20 Eat Cheap Foods
Finding cheap foods to eat will help you save money on food. Here is a post with Frugal dinner meals to help you get started.
#21 Shop Your Pantry
Make sure to check your pantry first before shopping, Make a list of meals you can make with the food on hand, and make sure you have snacks before buying a bunch.
#22 Buy Store Brand
You can save so much by buying the store brands. I like Good and Gather from Target and Kroger brand items. Oftentimes, the store brand is made by the same company as the name-brand but costs less.
#23 Only shop bi-weekly
If you eliminate frequent trips to the store, you will be less likely to spend more than you intended by throwing other times in your cart. I try to meal plan and shop every two weeks.
#24 Make Your Own Coffee
If you stop for a coffee every morning, this can add up and I can say I am guilty of this when I was working. I decided to treat myself and only stop on Fridays and take my own coffee the rest of the week. I still saved money, but coffee is a splurge item of mine because I LOVE it!
#25 Drink Water
Stop buying pricey juice and other sugary drinks. Just drink water. You will save money and save on your dental bill. I do not like the taste of my tap water so I use a Britta water filter. It does the trick!
Frugal Hacks for Your Home
#26 Cut the cord
The cable bill can be so expensive nowadays. it is best to cut the cord and find cheaper alternatives if you are looking for Frugal Living tips.
Some streaming companies that I like are Hulu, Netflix, Disney Plus, and Discovery +. Even if I purchased a subscription to all four of these streaming services it would still be less than half the price of my AT&T cable bill which after the introductory price doubled to almost $200. if you are looking to save money this is a quick and easy way to do it.
#27 Negotiate bills
Negotiating bills may make you feel like a cheapskate, yet it is your money and if you can save a little bit here and there you will be able to put more money away.
if you do not feel like negotiating or Bill’s yourself you can try a service called Trim. Both of these companies will help negotiate your bills for you and help you save a ton of money.
Check out trim here and start your free trial
#28 Programmable thermostat
Another go-to hack is buying a programmable thermostat. This will help you save on energy costs because you can set it at a lower temperature when you are not home. Therefore you will save on energy you are not using and save money.
#29 Return recyclables for cash
I drink a lot of sparkling water. It is my favorite drink. Yet we accumulate a lot of aluminum cans. We do not throw them away but recycle them for money. We usually wait until we have around $10 worth of returnables. I use this as a coupon off of my grocery bill.
# 30 Air dry clothes
Some may wonder if it is worth it to air-dry your clothing. Yet this Frugal hack can save you money on your gas bill. You can buy a drying rack for drying clothing. If you are worried your clothes will be stiff you can throw them in the dryer for 5 minutes to fluff them up after they are pretty much dry.
#31 Unplug items
This is such an easy task that most of us forget. But if you want to save money on your energy bill try unplugging items that you are not using.
For example, we unplug our Keurig and our toaster after we use them every morning. Try unplugging cell phone chargers and if you are going out of town unplug your television, computer, and any other lamps or electrical devices you will not use.
#32 Change lightbulbs
Try replacing your light bulbs with energy-saving light bulbs. Many of these Frugal hacks will save you a little bit of money but if you are doing all of them that money will add up.
#33 Do an energy audit
Many energy companies offer free energy audits. Call your energy company and find out if they will do an energy audit. They will go through your house and find ways you can save on your energy bill for free.
Frugal Hacks for Personal Care
#34 Do your own nails
It is nice to treat yourself with a mani or Pedi once in a while but if you learn to do your own nails you can save so much money.
I like to get a mani/pedi at the beginning of Summer and then after I do my own Nails. You can find some awesome videos on YouTube for great tips on doing your own nails at home and you can even do a gel manicure if that is what you prefer. If you must go to a salon, because we all need a treat every once in a while, check Groupon for deals.
#35 Buy store-brand products
I absolutely love the Target Up and Up store brand products. They always cost less than the name brand products and often Target has sales on the Target Circle app for their own products. You can save a ton on your grocery bill with this Frugal tip.
#36 Cut your own hair
Cutting your own hair may sound scary but at the beginning of the pandemic, I think all of us had to do our own hair. I have been using this tip for years on my husband and my sons and I even give myself a little trim from time to time.
I learned how to cut my son’s hair by using YouTube videos and since we weren’t going anywhere it’s really didn’t matter if I messed it up a little. But with practice, I got better and now I save over $30 every 6 to 8 weeks on haircuts for my sons and husband. Here is a great video to help you learn how to cut a little boy’s hair cut. I also like these Clippers that I purchased on Amazon.
#37 Exercise at home
I sound like a broken record but I use YouTube for many things. Another useful Frugal hack is to use YouTube for free workout videos. I like the 10-minute videos of cardio and I also enjoy yoga videos. Just search your favorite type of workout and you are sure to find some free videos on YouTube. Check the ratings to make sure it is something worth doing.
#38 Spa Day at Home
Do you love going to the spa? Spa treatments are pricey and if you are looking to become more frugal you can create your own spa day at home. If you have some free time draw yourself a warm bubble bath, light some candles, and enjoy a glass of wine for the fraction of the price you would pay as a regular Spa.
Other Frugal Hacks
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#39 Shop with free gift cards (Swagbucks)
Do you use Swagbucks? If not you should check it out. You can earn free gift cards for performing tasks you do anyway. We all search the internet. If you go through Swagbucks you will earn points for every search. Easy peasy. After a while, these points will add up and you can redeem them for gift cards to your favorite stores including Target, Amazon, or Walmart, but there are many, many more.
#40 Invest your spare change
Are you afraid of investing? Did you know that you can invest your spare change?
There is an app called Acorns that allows you to invest your change from credit card purchases You can check out acorns here and start small. Then once you understand the foundations of investing you can add more money.
#41 Cash envelope system
The cash envelope system is a way to help you save money. You can use cash envelopes to set aside money for bills, transportation, groceries, clothing, and any other things you need each month.
By giving yourself an allotted amount of cash to spend, it is easier to stay on budget. If you are new to the cash envelope system check out my printable store for printables that you can use to label your own cash envelopes.
#42 Shop for deals On Groupon
Do you use Groupon? It is a great way to save on many things. If you are thinking of some family fun activities check Groupon for sales. Or if you are going to treat yourself to a mani-pedi or spa day use Groupon to save. Sometimes they have offers on clothing, adventure days, tickets to attractions, and a selection of many other ways to save.
#43 Use Rakuten When shopping online
Rakuten is one of my favorite cashback sites. If you are shopping online, you have to try out Rakuten. Rakuten gives you a percentage back of the money you spend while shopping online. You can also buy discounted gift cards and find coupons on Rakuten. If you are interested in signing up you can sign up here or you can read my Rakuten review.
#44 Check happy hours
When you are comfortable going out to eat again make sure to check the local happy hours. By going early you can avoid crowds and you can also save some money.
#45 Change Cell phone plan
Shop around for a better cell phone plan. Have you heard of mint mobile? It is a great cell phone service that is reliable and cheaper than big names like AT&T and Verizon. You can almost always find a way to save on your cell phone plan.
#46 Shop clearance
If you are going grocery shopping take a look at the end of the aisles where they often put clearance items. You can find deals on food clothing toys for kids and many other items. You don’t have to spend a lot of time going through clearance but if you are already out why not take a quick peek and see if there’s anything you would use.
Frugal Household Hacks
# 47 Shop Your Pantry
Make sure to shop your own pantry before grocery shopping. Create a meal plan from items you already have in your cupboards and build meals around these times.
Use a programmable thermostat to save on your energy bill and unplug items you are not using.
# 48 Unplug
Try unplugging appliances you don’t regularly use. This will save a little and add up over time.
#49 Shop for kids Clothes Out of Season
You can score some really good “end-of-season” sales and buy a size up so you will be prepared for the next year’s seasons. Also, take a walk through the shoe Isle every time you go into Target or Walmart to see if there are any clearance deals. This is how I score $7 shoes for my kids.
#50 Try Selling Items on sites such as Mercari, Poshmark, or Facebook for Extra Money
If you need some extra cash, try selling household items or clothing on selling sites online. I used to sell on Poshmark frequently for extra money and Facebook for kids’ toys. It is a nice way to add some extra income and doesn’t require a lot of time.
Super Frugal Hack
Buy your groceries and personal items with free gift cards. If you work hard at earning free gift cards, you can use them to buy things you need. I just cashed out my Swagbucks for a $10 Target gfit card that will be going towards my son’s new spring jacket. I also get gift cards from the company I teach for VIP Kid for amazing;. I am up to $10 and that will help pay for his new sandals -these boys never stop growing! Here are some other places you can earn free gift cards:
- Ebates (You can also buy discounted gift cards)
- Inbox Dollars
- Target “Free Gift Card” Deals
- Amazon Trade-In
- My Points
Related: Ibotta vs. Rakuten: Which is Better?
Other Money-Saving Posts
- 75 Best Frugal Living Tips That Are Surprisingly Easy
- What is Frugal Living
- How to be Frugal and Not be Cheap
- Frugal Living Tips to Try This Year
- How to Become a Better Saver
- 55 Frugal Meals for When You Are Broke
- How to Save Money on Groceries
- 10 Frugal Living Tips With the Biggest Impact
- 10 Frugal Tips for Beginners
- How to Save Money With Rakuten
- Top Money Hacks That Will Save You Thousands
- Benefits of Living Below Your Means
- 10 Frugal Tasks You Can Try Right Now
Frugal Hacks to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck Final Thoughts…
If you are new to frugal living or are in need of some new frugal hacks, these tips should do the trick. Learning to live below your means is a phenomenal way to pay down debt, save money, build an emergency fund, invest and most importantly, break the paycheck to paycheck cycle. I hope you have found some of these tips useful! If you have anything to add to the list, leave a comment below.