Frugal living ideas to try in 2021
Are you looking for ways to save money in 2021? These frugal living ideas to try in 2021 will get you started on the right financial path and let’s face it, 2020 was a tough year for most of us. If you tried frugal living tips in 2020, you may need more frugal hacks for 2021.
Saving money isn’t the easiest thing to do, so I suggest -like any new habit – you should start small. Find some small areas in your budget you can fix and then continue working on your finances from there.
I also suggest finding ways you can fit in small splurges so you don’t miss out on the things that are important to you in life. For example, if you are not that into home decor, skip decorating your house for every Holiday and keeping up with house decorating trends. Yet, if you love Starbucks coffee, leave room in your budget to treat yourself once per week and make your coffee at home the rest of the week. Therefore, you will not feel deprived and give up.
It is easy to fall into the debt trap in today’s world. Almost anyone can get a credit card and card companies make millions off of people that fall behind and wind up paying interest and late fees. To avoid this, try paying cash in the new year and use a cash envelope system. Use these labels to get you started.
What is Frugal Living?
Frugal living is a state of mind. Instead of splurging and spending, find ways to cut back and save on everyday purchases. These small amounts of savings start to add up and enable you to pay off debt, save for an emergency, and get ahead in life.
According to business insider, one of the traits of becoming a millionaire is learning to be frugal. (Source: business insider) This research was taken from the book “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D., and Sarah Stanley Fallow, Ph.D. who interviewed over 600 millionaires for their research.
Often people do not realize many millionaires live frugally. In fact, you would not even know they have money in the bank. Yet, the people buying luxury cars and houses they cannot afford, seem to be rich. And unfortunately, many are drowning in debt. It is funny how appearances can sway our thinking.
Use frugal living as a way to start living below your means and saving more money. These frugal living tips for 2021 will help you get started and allow you to put money in the bank this year.
What Frugal Living Is Not
Frugal living is often confused with being cheap. Yet, frugal living does not mean being cheap or miserly. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Frugal living is learning to live below your means, so you can build up your money. Here are some things that are NOT frugal:
- Buying Cheap products over quality
- Depriving yourself of your favorite things
- Not living life
- Never doing anything because you have to pay
- Extreme measures to save money such as driving around town to save a dollar
Related Money-saving posts:
- What is Frugal Living and is it for You?
- What is Financial Discipline
- How to Be Frugal Without Being Cheap
- 10 Benefits of Living Below Your Means
Take a look at the list below as a way to get started. If you need more ideas to check out my 75 Frugal Living Tips with a free printable to help you keep track of savings.
Try to remember to use moderation to avoid feeling deprived and spending more than you intended.
Frugal living can help you live within your means and get your finances back on track. This is your year to become debt-free and put your bank account in plus mode.
Why Live Frugally
Living frugally will help you get out of debt and live better. Many are looking to build savings or start an emergency fund. Many people choose to live a frugal lifestyle for the following reasons:
- More Money – Living frugally and living below your means help you add money to your bank account. Many think most frugal living peeps don’t have the money to spend; however, usually, this is not the case. Many people live below their means to bulk up savings, invest money, and eventually have enough to live a dream life.
- Less Stress – Money stress is a major cause of depression and research has shown stress can lead to health concerns. Yet, by saving money and building up an emergency fund, you will feel secure, and stress levels will decrease. Not to mention, less medical bills.
Whatever the case, living frugally will help you achieve your financial goals.
Frugal Living in 2021 – 35 Frugal Living Tips to Save Money
How do I Live a Frugal Lifestyle?
Learning to live a frugal lifestyle is not hard. In fact, you can start by using the tips below. If you are not used to saving money, you will want to start small and build your way up to the big stuff. Yet, the frugal tips listed below are not only practical but totally doable for the newly frugal.
#1 Meal plan/meal prep
This is one of my best money-saving tips. Start by taking count of what you already have in your cupboard and build your meals out from there. I prefer to do a bi-weekly meal plan so I am not running back to the store and tempted to throw more stuff in my cart. I create my meals, make a list, shop, and organize.
I also use cashback apps such as Ibotta and Checkout 51 after I am home from the store to save even more money. Meal planning will save you time, stress, money, and help you stay organized. It will eliminate take-out and restaurant nights. Here are a few meal plans to start with:
$75 Dinner Meal Plan
$35 One-Week Aldi Meal Plan
Cheap Meal Plan for Two – Two Weeks Under $35
After Meal Planning, try using meal prep to eliminate stress and the desire to go out to eat so you don’t’ have to cook.
If you prep your weekly meals, you will have everything ready to go. You can try freezer meal cooking and dump meals in a crock-pot. You will have delicious meals at your fingertips within minutes.
Read More: Stockpile on a Budget
#2 Never pay full price
If you want to save money, try your hand at couponing. It is so easy with online coupons. No need to buy a Sunday paper.
You can use coupon sites to clip the coupons you need. That way you aren’t just buying things because you have a coupon, which wastes money.
You can try the online coupon sites listed below:
#3 Earn Money Back on Groceries
This is my number one favorite cashback app!
Ibotta is an awesome money-saving app that allows you to receive rebates for stuff you already buy. I have earned the most money with Ibotta. In fact, I have $259 sitting in my account right now. I usually save my Ibotta earnings and cash out in December so I can use my earnings for Christmas shopping! I have a total of $456.38 -lifetime earnings. I am averaging about $100 per year and keep in mind I don’t actively seek out Ibotta offers before I shop. I shop as I normally would and check to see if what I bought is on the app after I shop.
All you have to do is find your store and search for 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. Use my link and receive a $10 sign up bonus when you redeem your first rebate!
Rakuten (Formerly Ebates)
This is my favorite app for online shopping.
Formerly known as Ebates, Rakuten is a money-back site that rewards you for doing something you already do: shopping online.
Click through Rakuten 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.
I find the best way to use Rakuten is to install the browser extension so you don’t forget to use it. The extension will alert you if your store offers cash back on Rakuten.
This newer app is super easy to use!
This cashback app is also a great option because it is so easy to use! All you have to do is scan your receipts. Most of the stores listed are for groceries, yet there are a few select other stores listed on Fetch.
You get points for scanning your receipt but you get more points if you are buying name-brand at grocery stores because they partner with this app.
You can cash out at 3000 points which would equate to a $3 gift card for restaurants, home decor, or my favorite Amazon.
How to get the app: Click this link and it will direct you to the app in your app store. Sign up and get 2000 bonus points.
#4 Grocery budget
Set a grocery budget and see if you can beat it. If you plan to spend $75 on groceries this week, make it a challenge or game and see if you can get your price down. You can use your extra money as fun money if you wish.
After you write out your meal plan, search for deals in circulars, online coupons, and Sunday paper coupons. Check coupon websites and find out how to stack your coupons. If you can take $10 off your bill, that is $10 you can use for a “planned splurge.”
#5 Eat leftovers
There are a few meals I make that I like to double up because I like the leftovers. I like leftover chili and leftover pulled pork. There is something about the flavors marinating over time that make it taste just as good, if not better the next day. Try to add a leftover night into your bi-weekly meal plan and plan for it after making a big serving of a few things such as chili or spaghetti.
#6 Gift cards for groceries
Did you know you can earn gift cards to stores and use those gift cards for groceries? I love Swagbucks for gift cards. Use this link: Swagbucks and get gift cards to Target, Amazon, and Walmart for groceries.
#7 Pack your lunch
If you are buying cafeteria food at your job every day or going out to eat with co-workers, this will literally kill your budget.
Try brown-bagging it and learn to buy things you love to eat in bulk. You will spend WAY less than you would at a vending machine, restaurant, or cafeteria and still have food you want to eat.
#8 Buy in bulk if you will eat it
If you find foods you love and it will last, buy it in bulk. We buy kids yogurt and snacks in bulk. We also eat a lot of bananas and buy them in bulk at a lower price. Just make sure it is something you will eat so you are not wasting money.
#9 Use containers instead of plastic wrap
If you are used to using plastic wrap or tin foil this may be a hard habit to break. Yet, consider investing in Pyrex containers and after a month or so, the cost will even out and be well worth it. Plus it is environmentally friendly so why not give it a try.
These are my favorite Pyrex dishes here
#10 Only shop once per month
This is a great tip for Covid-times and is totally doable. If you plan ahead, you can avoid going to the store often.
Avoiding the store will not only save you a ton of time, but it will also certainly save you money as well. Consider how much you spend every time you step foot in a store. It is difficult to make those impulse buys when you aren’t in a store.
If you use the tips above and become accustomed to meal planning, you can start to lessen your trips to the store and eventually only shop once per month. It may be wise to make one short trip mid-month if you prefer fresh produce. Otherwise, buy frozen fruits and veggies and eat your fresh produce during the first week.
Frugal Living in 2021 – Travel
Here’s to hoping 2021 brings us to travel again. Once we are ready to get back out of the house, there are definitely deals to be had. And if you are able to travel soon (my hubby just got the vaccine), use these tips to help you save!
#11 Buy groceries
Instead of spending money on pricy all-inclusive resorts, try buying your own groceries. You will literally save thousands.
#12 Save money on souvenirs
I recommend trying not to buy a lot of souvenirs, but if you have kids and you absolutely want souvenirs try finding alternative stores other than your hotel or resort stores where the prices are usually much higher.
When we went to Orlando we bought our Disney souvenirs at a local shopping outlet center that sold Disney items. My kids didn’t care and loved them. My husband and I joked because we spent more money at a candy store in the outlet mall than we did the day we went to the magic kingdom (we brought our own food).
You can also check other stores such as Target or Walmart. Cancun and Cabo San Lucas both have a Walmart with souvenirs. Do a search before you leave and give each child a budget for how much you are willing to spend.
#13 Shop for cheap car rentals
Try discount sites such as Priceline or Hotwire to find great deals on car rentals. Try not to get anything fancy, especially if you plan on staying at the resort most of the time.
In fact, it may be cheaper to just take an Uber or Lyft from the airport and skip the car rental altogether. We did this in Fort Lauderdale Florida. Our hotel was close to restaurants, a grocery store, and a mall so we just walked the entire week. It was a great way to exercise and we planned it so we were able to stay close to these features. (If you are wondering where we stayed it is called the Sonesta.)
#14 Buy your own alcohol
Resorts charge an arm and a leg for alcoholic beverages. Consider buying your own alcohol at Duty-free if you are traveling internationally or stop at a store on the way to the hotel.
#15 Avoid all-inclusive
Sure, all-inclusive sounds great because you don’t have to cook or worry about food, however, they can be extremely pricey. We like to spend around $100 on groceries when we arrive at our hotel and then eat out or order food once per day.
We can handle having two meals in the room. We usually have breakfast in the room so we don’t have to go anywhere and then make sandwiches for the beach. Then we will rotate between lunch and dinner since lunch is typically cheaper.
# 16 Shop cheap flights
Try booking your flights on Tuesday or Wednesday. These are the cheapest days to book. Also, try discount airlines such as Spirit. This no-frills airline won’t give you peanuts on your flight, but you will pay way less so you can just bring your own snack.
#17 Try happy hour
Look for happy hours for your vacation spot. Often times the resort or hotel will offer happy hours or two for one drink prices. Take advantage of these deals so you spend less on your trip.
Electronics have been one of the big purchases people made in 2020 and it looks like the trend is still there in 2021. We love our electronics and with being home more often, it is sometimes worth it to buy. And yes, we can save money on our electronics too!
#18 Don’t buy a new phone
Do you really need a new phone every time the latest version comes out? Chances are your old phone is just fine. Make sure you continue to update it and you should be all set.
#19 Cut the cable (This can be life-changing!)
If your cable bill is outrageous, consider cutting the cord or calling to lower your bill. Often times if you threaten to cancel, the company will lower your bill. I have done this three different times and it worked every time. However, after our last cable hike from AT&T, our bill was almost $200 per month.
We decided to cut the cable and go with another company only charging $30 for basic cable. This was definitely more reasonable; however, it is a no-frills service. We do not have a DVR or On Demand. Yet, we have Netflix which is only around $10 per month and my kids love watching kid’s stuff on there.
Also, consider streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu! Check out the lowest price plan here.
Update: We also use a Roku stick to get free television and games. Roku is one of the best streaming services. Just buy a Roku device and hook it up to your smart tv. It offers hundreds of free shows and channels and after buying the device, you pay nothing, unless you want to upgrade or buy a game.
#20 Stop buying gadgets until you are debt-free
Learn to say not and stop those impulse buys. If you are a techy person this may be difficult. Yet, if you are able to wait until your debt is paid off you will be able to afford your tech stuff and stay out of debt.
Frugal Living in 2021 – Real Life
#21 Lower bills
Set aside some time this year to call and check competitor prices.
Can you find a bank with no fees? Can you lower your cable bill? Find ways to cut your electricity and gas bill by unplugging and air drying your clothing.
If you don’t have time to lower your bills yourself, try this amazing service that will lower your bills and save you money on your monthly bills.
Learn how to make your own cleaning products and watch YouTube to learn how to fix things yourself. You can literally save thousands by doing your own home repairs. My husband and brother-in-law have done this with several items in our house and car.
Can you find someone to carpool with? You can save money on gas and wear and tear on your car.
#24 Shop clearance or second hand
Shop around on Facebook sites or second-hand stores before you make big purchases. You can often find like-new furniture or electronics for way less.
#25 Spending freeze
Pick one month and go on a spending freeze. Make sure to stock up on food and find free activities so you are not tempted to spend.
#26 Don’t buy knick-knacks
Don’t waste money on things you don’t use.
#27 Air-dry laundry
Often air-drying your clothing results in your clothes lasting longer.
#28 Sell old clothes
Use sites such as Poshmark and Mercari to sell your gently used clothing. I made $300 in my first year of selling my old clothing on these sites, so it is worth the time.
#29 Turn off water
Make sure you turn off the water when you are brushing your teeth or washing dishes to save on your water bill.,
#30 Run outside
Instead of joining a pricey gym, try running outside or watching free YouTube workout videos.
#31 Do your own mani-pedi
Again, YouTube is great for giving you beauty tips on how to make your mani/Pedi and/or makeup look professional.
Crunch the numbers and see if it makes sense to refinance. You could lower your monthly bill and pay off your loan more quickly.
#33 Avoid late fees
Make sure you pay your bills on time. Set a reminder on your phone or use my free bill tracker if you are like me and need a visual.
I also use credit cards so I only have to bill due dates per month. I am disciplined and pay these off monthly, so if a credit card is too tempting this may not be the best option.
#34 Use less
Try cutting back on everything you use. Try using less toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap. My guess is, you will be fine with using only 1/2 of what you use now. Try not to waste product. In fact, we started cutting open our lotion bottle and getting about five more uses out of the lotion before we recycle it.
How to Raise Your Credit Score by 200 Points
#35 Pay Down Debt
If you are in debt, no worries. You can change your financial situation in 2021, but using the frugal tips listed above. You can try the debt snowball method for paying down debt with the moeny you have saved. Let’s make 2021 a year to get out of debt!
Frugal Living 2021 Challenge
If you are ready to start a frugal living challenge, print the list of 75 frugal living tips and try two or three a week. You can find the list here and start your frugal living journey as soon as you print!
Frugal Living in 2021 Conclusion
If you are looking to save money, it is best to find ways you can cut back. Learn to live within your means and stop using credit cards. Yet, it is also important you do not feel deprived so you do not give up.
So include some small splurges in your budget and make your savings automatic so you don’t have to worry about spending on your splurges. Try to save money on items or things that are not important to you, so you can spend money on the things that matter.