How to Live Frugally for Beginners
You may be asking yourself how to live frugally, especially if you are new to frugal living. If you are trying to be more accountable with your money, frugal living is certainly the way to go. Did you know many millionaires live a frugal life?
In this post, I will cover my top frugal living tips for beginners. Even if you are new to frugal living, this post is sure to help you find practical ways to save more money.
Why Live Frugally?
There are many reasons to live a frugal life; however, saving money would be at the top of my list. I do not believe in paying full price unless I absolutely have to. This way of living has helped my husband and I pay off our student loans, our car, and we are on track to paying off our mortgage too. We are also able to live a comfortable life and take a few vacations per year because we are willing to do the work it takes to live frugally. Reasons to live frugally:
- pay down debt
- save up for an emergency fund
- save up for a vacation
- less money stress
- save for retirement
- financial security
- retire early
Choose Frugal Over Cheap:
Many times frugal living is often confused with being cheap. I beg to differ. Frugal living means being intentional with your money and finding the best deals. That’ right, I stopped paying full price for items long ago. However, I do not consider myself to be cheap. I will buy my friends and family nice gifts (at a discount if I can – hehe), I will treat myself when I can, and I buy quality over quantity or cheap items. I love living my life this way even though I could spend more money if I needed to because I have learned to save and always have a surplus of money. There is not much money stress in my life because I choose to live frugally.
Other Frugal Living Posts You Will Enjoy:
- 75 Frugal Living Tips That are Surprisingly Easy
- What is Frugal Living and Is It For You?
- Frugal Living in 2020
- Why I started a Frugal Living Blog
- Frugal Living Fails and Frugal Living Wins
- Secrets to Saving for an Emergency Fund
Why you want to start frugality is up to you, but I think it is fun! So let’s get you started on your frugal living journey.
How to Live Frugally for Beginners and Save Money
1. Meal plan – If you follow me, you know I love a good meal plan. In fact, I like to write out my meal plan at the beginning of the month and create my shopping list around my plan. By now, I have a good sense for how much most items I buy cost and can total up my grocery bill before I go shopping. Creating a plan and making a list help me stay on budget and I avoid throwing extra items in my cart because I know what’s for dinner and I have all the ingredients on my list.
Yes, this does take a little time but after a few months you will get the hang of it and it will be easy breezy. Also, I have a few pre-made meal plans for when I’m short on time. You can check out my budget-friendly meal plan and make two-weeks worth of dinners for under $75 or my Cheap Meal Plan for Two. In this post, you will have an entire weeks worth of food for under $30 for two people.
2. Coupon to Live Frugally – I love using coupons and luckily you can find most of your coupons online now. My favorite coupon site is Coupons.com. This site allows you to print two of the same coupon during the coupon cycle so you can stock up. It is so easy to add the coupons you need to your queue and then print them all at once. You will want to bookmark the site so click the link and get ready to save: coupons.com.
Also, check sites like Krazy Coupon lady (my fav) and Bargains to Bounty (my husband’s fav) for sale and coupon match-ups. Stacking your coupons on items that are already on sale will save you the most money and these ladies do the work for you to save you time. They even give you a sneak peek of the Sunday Paper coupons early so you can decide if you want to buy a paper.
Pro Tip: Many Dollar Tree Stores sell Sunday Papers for $1.
3. Money-Saving Apps – I love the Ibotta app. It is so easy to use and gives me money back every time I shop. You can earn $10 just for signing up and using the app for the first time. What are you waiting for? Sign up for Ibotta using my link to earn $10.
Other money-saving apps to take advantage of are listed below:
- Ibotta – This is my favorite rebate app!
- Cartwheel – Save at Target by checking off your items and scanning this app at the register.
- Check out 51 – This app is similar to Ibotta. Just upload your receipt and earn money.
- Dosh – Antoehr rebate app. but easier because you link a credit/debit card instead of scanning receipts. The more you use, the more you will earn.
- Shopkick | Best Shopping Rewards App – This app rewards you for shopping. You earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards just by walking in a store and performing other activities.
- Shoptracker – This app tracks your online shopping and pays you to allow this tracking.
4. Always Have Cash – I like to hoard money, so to speak. I always have money in the bank to cover emergencies when they come up. This came in handy when my car died last year and I had an unexpected $500 doctor bill. You never know what curve ball life is going to throw at you, so it is best to be prepared.
Never rely on credit cards as your only source of an emergency fund. This can eventually get you into trouble and drive you into debt with a high-interest rate. However, if you do not have an emergency fund, now is the time to start. Try putting away just $40 per month and at the end of the year, you will have $480 saved for an emergency.
I also like to separate my funds into sinking accounts. You could have an “any emergency” fund and set aside a “car repair” fund. All cars will need to be repaired at some point, so don’t wait until the last minute and have to rely on plastic.
5. Shop Secondhand – There are so many great items out there that are in good used condition but people no longer want. Remember the old saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” You can use this to your frugal advantage.
I just finished reading The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gains. This couple thrives on reusing and repurposing items. I love that they were able to build a business off of fixing up homes and often reused second-hand items or materials found in the old homes.
If you start shopping for second-hand items, you can find great sales on furniture, clothes, bags, children’s toys and so on. Check Facebook groups and Craigslist to find used items instead of buying new and spending way more.
Other Frugal Living and Saving Money Posts You Will Enjoy:
- 41 Clever Ways to Cut Your Food Bill
- 21 Things to Stop Buying to Save Money
- 13 Things Only a Complete Frugal Living Weirdo Would Understand
- Are You Broke? You Should Never Buy These Seven Thing
- 52-Week Penny Saving Challenge With Free Printable
- Eat healthy on a budget – How to make it affordable
More Tips on How to Live Frugally:
6. Carpool – I did this for around five of the thirteen years I was a teacher. It is one of my best gas money-saving tips. Not to mention, it was fun riding to work with my friends. Since I had two teacher friends that lived close by, I only drove every third week. Think of how much money you could save on gas. For example, if you spend $50 per week, you are saving over $100 per month, plus wear and tear on your car and less frequent oil changes.
7. Don’t Lease – Yes, it’s nice to have a new car every few years and not have to worry about your car breaking down but think about it, you will always have a car payment. My husband and I just paid off our new “used” car! It’s a great feeling to be done with our car payment and interest on the loan.
Pro tip: If you decide to buy a used car and keep it, set aside $50 per month for car repairs. You will eventually need it and you will be glad you have cash on-hand.
Pro tip: Drive your car until it dies. I’ve done with my past two cars. Unfortunately, my Saturn Vue died at 68,000 miles. This was an unexpected disappointment because we were planning on keeping that car for at least two-three more years. But since we had an emergency fund, we were able to put a down payment on our next car, which we bought used.
Pro tip: Opt out of roadside assistance if the math adds up. I decided against roadside assistance with my insurance. Why? Most tow trucks only cost around $50 which when I compared with my car insurance pricing, I would have paid around an extra $36 per year. I’ve only needed a tow truck twice in my life. So I paid $100 total for those two tow trucks our of pocket. My insurance still called them for me and I saved $36 per every year I opted out. If I had paid for roadside, I would have paid $170 over the course of five years, which would have been more. It was better to just pay for the tow trucks out-of-pocket. Think about how many times you have needed a tow in the last five years and do the math.
8. Work hard – No one saved money by sitting around doing nothing. If you want a surplus of money, you need to work hard. It is estimated that the average American watches five hours of television per day. Although I do watch an occasional show – love Gray’s Anatomy and Housewives – I only spend around 30 minutes per day on television. There are so many other ways to be productive with your time. Use your T.V. time to exercise (staying healthy is a fabulous money-saving tip) or start a side hustle. Not sure where to start? Here is a list of 75 Side Hustles that are pretty easy and most pay well. You will have your emergency fund in no time.
9. Eat Your Veggies – Have you heard of Meatless Mondays? Eating vegetarian dinners and replacing the meat with other sources of protein such as beans or eggs, will save you money. Even if you eat vegetarian only a few nights a week, you will still be able to enjoy meat and save money. Try eating vegetarian every other day to save more. My family and I love bean burritos, vegetable spaghetti, fish with corn and cornbread, and tuna noodle casserole (one of my cheapest meals).
10. Learn how to budget – Maybe this one should have come first, but putting together a solid budget for your money is the best frugal living advice I can offer. If you do not know how much you are paying on bills or overpaying for other items, saving money can become impossible and overwhelming. Frugal living is not only about saving money on everyday items, but creating a solid plan for your money and learning to take control of your finances.
One great way to track your money and come up with a great money plan is a Personal Capital. The best part is Personal Capital is free. Check it out!!
Having trouble with putting a budget together? Try my blogging friend David’s new Financial Foundations class. He is over at Financial Superhero and seriously knows his stuff. His class is super helpful in leaving all the fluff behind and putting you on-track with your money. Learn more about Financial Foundations here!!
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How to Live Frugally for Beginners and Save Money Conclusion:
Frugal living certainly isn’t for everyone. Yet, if you are choosing to live frugally you are taking a step in the right directions by making small changes.
If you are in debt, living frugally is a must. This IS your ticket to living a debt-free life.
What life do you choose? You can be in control of your money and there is no reason to pay full price for every item you buy. Learn how to make your money work for you so you can build your savings and pay down debt. This is your life and your time. Start your frugal living journey. You’ve got this!
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Take care – Sarah
What is your favorite frugal living tip? Leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you.
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