Has the past year and a half left you struggling to make ends meet?
We’re recovering from a global pandemic, the economy has shifted, many people lost their jobs, and spending so much time at home has likely resulted in a mild online shopping addiction.
If this strikes a familiar chord, you’re definitely not alone – we have all been affected in one way or another.
So, before your good nature takes a nose dive, and working your way back becomes a personal pandemic, it’s time to take back control of your life and finances.
One way to do this is by living frugally; it’s about being resourceful and clever.
This guide promises smart tips to live more frugally now and salvage the remainder of 2021.
It’s about finding opportunities to save money in a way that doesn’t totally impede you from living your everyday life. You can still enjoy your life while being savvy about how you spend your money. It’s possible – and the best way to improve your financial situation.
This post will ask and answer some tough questions about frugal living before providing you with some practical life-changing tips to live more frugally right now, not later.
Disclaimer: This blog post may contain affiliate links. Keep in mind that I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you when you click my links and make a purchase. However, this does not impact my opinion in any way. I only promote brands I believe in and products that I use and love myself. I try my best to keep things fair and balanced to help you make the best choice for you.
Why Live More Frugally?
The biggest benefit to living frugally is the ability to build financial freedom. Frugal living allows you to achieve your financial goals faster. By choosing to spend less money on unimportant things, you’ll have more money to put towards the things that really matter to you. And you get to decide what matters most and where to put your money. Money is simply energy and where you spend your money is where you direct your energy. This gives you back control of your life. A good reason to apply these tips to live more frugally, right?
How Much is Frugal Living Going to Hurt?
Frugal living doesn’t have to hurt. It can actually be enjoyable when done right. You discover the joy of living with less stress. You don’t have to go without things. Rather, it requires you to evaluate where your priorities lie. You can still spend money on the things that bring you happiness. But then you’ll just spend less on things that are unnecessary or unimportant to you. So, when done right, frugal living is simply about being sensible and mindful about how you spend your money. The tips to live more frugally that I share below will show you how to do this without taking things to the extreme.
Can You Even Save Money When You Don’t Have Expendable Income?
Of course, you can! It just takes some effort. Most people don’t track their spending habits or stick to a budget. This means that even though you don’t think you have an expendable income, you probably do. As you become more aware of your spending habits, you’ll notice where you can cut back or minimize your expenses and actually save money. This is what frugal living is all about. Creating awareness around your spending habits and determining how you can change these habits in order to save money.
I share more about ways to manage and save your money when things are tight and you can’t make ends meet or don’t know where your next check is coming from here.
10 Tips to Live More Frugally
Let’s dive right into it.
Grab your diary, journal, or budget planner, and let’s get started!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about money or the lack thereof, then it’s time to implement these 10 tips to live more frugally right now.
Keep a Log to Track Your Spending
The key to frugal living is setting a budget, but you can’t stick to a budget if you don’t track your spending. Use a budget planner or just a regular notebook to create and track your budget each month.
Track the following:
- Your income
- Fixed expenses
- Unexpected expenses
- Amount to be put in savings
- The expected amount to be leftover
Spend at least a few months tracking these numbers. Once you have a better idea of your finances, you’ll be able to determine what can and should change. This is the first step to take and it will help you to implement the other tips to live more frugally that I share next.
Stick to Your Grocery List
It can be so tempting to buy things you don’t need while at the grocery store. But the best way to adhere to your budget is to create a list of items you actually need before going to the grocery store. It’s also a good idea to only go grocery shopping after you’ve eaten. Because if you walk through those aisles with an empty stomach, you’ll end up splurging on items you don’t need. So, make a list, eat something and then stick to the list once you get there. Frugal living means prioritizing. Buy food that you need for the meals you’ve planned for the week. This will help you eat healthier as well.
Eat at Home
One of my best tips for living more frugally is to eat at home. Takeout and dining at restaurants can quickly add up to a big chunk of money. Save money by consciously choosing to cook meals and eat at home. You can be even more frugal by planning your meals in advance so that you only purchase products that you need and will be using for the meals you’re cooking. Or, cook your meals in bulk and freeze the extra to enjoy later on in the month. If you’re not sure what to cook, check your recipe collection or scour the internet for blog posts with interesting recipes.
No Waste Promise
Do you know how much food and other perishable goods get wasted each day?
Households in the US throw out about 150 000 tons of food daily.
That’s a lot of unnecessary waste. And a lot of your spent money simply ending up in the trash.
Purchasing things in excess that are only going to be tossed once it reaches its expiration, is a big waste of money.
It can be avoided by becoming more aware and mindful of what you purchase (always check expiration dates to give you the longest time to consume an item) and what you actually use.
Try implementing a zero-waste week once per month to live more frugally. During this week you must consume everything you buy and cook during that week. You can do this by eating any leftovers, using supplies you already have before the expiration date, and planning your meals for the week in advance.
Declutter & Tidy Your Home
Regularly take the time to declutter and tidy your home. You can do it one room at a time so that it doesn’t take up too much of your time. The goal of this activity is to be more conscious of what items you bring into your home. This also serves to prevent you from reverting back to mindless spending habits again; which can happen quite easily if you’re not careful. As you declutter and tidy up, you’ll probably also discover unused items that you can sell online to make some more money.
Be Smart about Home Expenses
Frugal living begins at home and there are many ways for you to save money, simply by being clever about home expenses. Apply these tips to live more frugally at home:
- Be organized and pay all your utility bills on time to avoid those late fees.
- Switch your utility providers every few years to ensure that you’re getting the best rates and deals available.
- Reduce the number of household products you use.
- DIY your home products and projects whenever possible.
- Keep and re-use bags from retailers to avoid being charged fees for these bags each time you shop.
- When you do need to purchase something, think Dollar Tree – everything is a dollar and a dollar can go a long way when it comes to items you use at home.
- Drink water.
Cut Utility, Cable & Internet Expenses
One of my top tips to live more frugally is to see where you can cut back on, reduce or completely eliminate expenses. You can save money on utilities simply by learning how to save energy. For example, using LED lights throughout your home, turning off unused electronics, or sun drying laundry instead of using a dryer.
Similarly, you can save monthly by canceling your cable subscription. Rather opt for Amazon Prime which gives you access to all the movies and shows you could watch on cable.
Finally, look for low-cost or even free internet options which are available to people in the US.
Increase Your Savings
The most important thing you can do is build up an emergency savings fund. Emergencies can happen at any time and can be devastating financially if you aren’t prepared. This is one of the top reasons to live more frugally – so that you can save money for emergencies.
But how exactly do you go about doing this?
One idea is to automate your savings. Pay money into your savings first after receiving your income each week or month. You can set it so that a certain amount is automatically paid into your savings account each month. It doesn’t need to be a big amount to make a difference as it will build up over time. And as your financial situation improves, you can increase the amount you save.
Avoid Credit Card Debt
Debt can drain your limited resources quickly. Avoid racking up debt as much as possible by only purchasing what you can afford to buy instead of buying things on credit. Paying with cash will make you think twice before buying. If this is unavoidable, then use a credit card instead of your savings for necessary purchases. Opt for a credit card that has no or low fees to avoid extra costs. Since credit card interest rates are high it’s best to fully pay back any money spent with your credit card each month. This practice will help you avoid too much debt – which can quickly pile up if you aren’t careful.
Another good option is to choose a credit card that has a cashback policy instead of reward points that you need to redeem.
Wait Before You Buy
Impulse purchases tend to be a waste of money, so practice the pause before you purchase anything. If you have the urge to buy something, wait a set amount of time before you do. You can choose to wait 7 days, 14 days, or even a full 30 days before buying something. If you still want it after this time, then buy it. But chances are you’ll lose interest in this item and no longer want to make the purchase. This is one of my secret tips to live more frugally and reduce splurges that you’ll later regret.
Learning how to be frugal is important in this post-pandemic world. The economy is struggling, the cost of living has increased and it’s a smart decision to be careful about how we spend our money.
Take some time to apply these tips to live more frugally in your life. Each tip is designed to give you more control over your money which will lead to financial freedom.
What are your top tips to live more frugally?
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I love that you are talking about eating at home. I was having this conversation with a young person the other day. She says most of her peers just use Uber Eats all day long. This really adds up! You can literally shave a couple of hundred dollars off of a monthly food bill simply by cooking your own food!
I enjoy planning and cooking our meals too. It’s always less fattening and has less sodium. I know it’s fresh and it saves a lot of money.
I gave up fancy coffee drinks years ago.That’s a no-brainer $20 a week. Packed with calories and sugar. It’s the little things that add up.
Great tips! I would add, clear out your closet and organize your clothes so that you know what you have to wear. It saves time getting dressed and reduces impulse buying.
You are spot on. Decluttering and organizing, especially your closet, does give you a better perspective on what you have. There’s so much waste in our society. It’s almost shameful. A good question to ask is, “Do I want it or do I need it?”
Ronni- These are awesome tips for living more frugally. One of the things the pandemic year illustrated was how much we could save by not doing certain things like dining, clothing, personal care services (nails, hair.) Honestly, I didn’t miss eating out. I liked eating at home with simpler meals in a quieter environment. Now that we can go out, it’s so clear about how much it costs. So we do go out, but not very often. We also have automatic savings, which lops off money each week directly into investment accounts. That was one of the best decisions we ever made. We still have miles to go, but it helps to plan and be intentional.
I can totally relate to what you said. I too found it eye-opening to see how much we saved during the pandemic by not indulging in personal services or eating out. Like you, we now eat out but only on occasion.
I love how you save money. I like automated savings as well. I find that since you don’t see it, it doesn’t hurt as much but the bonus is big, saved money.
Great tips! I totally agree! You can also sell things online, like through Craig’s List and eBay. Many people are looking for things that are gently used. My husband is a pro at this; if he knows he is not using something, he will be the first to list them and sell them within a few days – making extra money for things we already had and wanted to get rid of. Keep in mind, to do your research, some items will sell quickly, others will not. Also, I found that you need to create a great price. Don’t overcharge because you will never get rid of it. The whole purpose is the get cash, not keep stuff we don’t use. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Thank you for sharing your experience with selling online. Why not profit from what we don’t need?
I totally agree with you. The trick is the item must be priced well to sell. A good question to ask yourself is, “What’s the price that will take this item off my hands?”
Selling well also depends on the market at the time of sale. Is it saturated with similar items and what is the need? Usually, I’ve found, most items do sell and there’s always a buyer if priced well.
I love this post – it is so important. I will never forget when I was fresh out of college and a company “guaranteed” me my first job and then had a hiring freeze. I had just rented an apartment in NYC with friends and I was determined not to move back home. I used many of your frugal tips back then and it served me well. Credit card debt is a huge waste of money!
I’m so glad this post resonated with you. The credit cards know exactly how to hook you. For instance, I think it’s terrific to earn cashback rewards. But then you have to spend the money to earn the rewards.
I try to be consistent,…if I don’t need it, I don’t buy it. That has served me well! Except when I buy something totally unnecessary for my grandsons.
These are such wonderful tips, Ronni. The one about not grocery shopping if you’re hungry really struck a chord with me. I spend so much more on groceries when I shop when I’m famished. I also recently noticed that my grocery store has started a loyalty club where they automatically apply coupons at check out. I’m planning to join as I never remember to either look for or bring coupons with me to the store.
Thank you so much! Besides coupons, the easiest way to save money at a grocery store is by sticking to your list, buying generic, what’s on sale, and not shopping when you’re hungry. I think I may have learned that last one at Weight Watchers.
I dislike waste. Whether it’s food toiletries or unnecessary purchases. There’s s better way.
Excellent tips. These are so sensible and, for the most part, easy to implement, but so few people practice them consistently.
I started saving money by being frugal from the time I was 9-10 years old. ( Mostly from my allowance.) It was almost a game for me. It’s really about keeping it simple. Sometimes what’s practical and easy is hard to see. But it does make sense.
Our world has seen quite a few rainy days in the last almost 2 years.
We naturally eat at home. Just prefer it. And for many years my husband did the grocery shopping. He was great at sticking to the list. It’s much easier to live frugally when it feels natural to you. I’m in a Facebook group called Frugal Living Tips and Tricks. I find great tips there too.
I like eating at home because I’m sure of what’s in my food. Going out for dinner these days is enormously expensive. Every establishment has raised their prices. That includes grocery stores too.
My husband does a lot of the grocery shopping. He sticks to the list as well. My son is the most interesting food shopper. He always comes home with bags of healthy delicious food. I would say both my husband and son are very frugal and don’t like to waste money.
Please share some of the tips you’ve learned in your Facebook group!
So much wise financial advice. I love the tip about evaluating and switching utility providers. They assume our inertia is loyalty, but they don’t reward us for it. I wish they still regularly taught financial wisdom in, at least by the high school level, because most people don’t learn budgeting and financial skills anymore until it’s too late. Another good way to live frugally is to take advantages of all sorts of options, but you have to know what they are. Reading the personal finance columns in magazines, newspapers, and online are all good sources of advice; even the personal finance subreddit on Reddit can help people live more frugally and build up a nest egg.
Thank you and I like your ideas. Reading the personal finance columns is smart. I do wonder when reading these if it’s skewed when they promote something or an establishment, rather than a straight how to. Which column is your favorite?
I tend to honor what I know, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Smart tips, Ronni and I live by most all of them! One I came to late and was glad to start was the habit of setting aside a few dollars for savings before I could even consider it as available cash. Over time I’ve added more dollars to that purpose but even a few dollars regularly adds up.
It’s such a great habit, especially when it’s automated and comes right off the top. You don’t even feel it as much that way. That’s what I do.
Do you have any savings tips to share? I always like to learn something new.