Are you curious about how to be frugal? You most likely have read articles and heard people talking about the extreme ends of frugality and thought to yourself, yikes,! I could never do that. You can learn how to be frugal by cutting out things that don’t add value toe your life, this is going to be different for everyone. Start slow with these frugal living tips to get you closer to living a debt-free lifestyle.
Maybe now you’re ready to think about what you CAN do to create your own frugal lifestyle.
Don’t let anyone tell you it’s easy, because it’s not easy for everyone. It took me a few starts and stops before I was all-in with frugal living. You’re changing your lifestyle and your relationship with money and how your spending affects your future financial security.
If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self to save at least $5 or $10 every paycheck, then as my income increased, I would increase my savings proportionately.
You may be frugal by choice or frugal by necessity, either way, I hope you will find some useful information to help you live a frugal lifestyle in the real work-a-day world.
What is frugal living?
For me, it’s about saving money where I can, so I can spend on the things that bring me joy. It means knowing your priorities, so you spend wisely and within your means, and also preparing for the inevitable financial emergency.
What are the benefits of frugal living?
Living debt-free and being able to make choices based on what’s best for your happiness and not taking a job just to “pay the bills.” It’s all about having options.
- Paying off debts and living a debt-free lifestyle
- Having savings in a rainy-day fund
- A feeling of control over your money, not money controlling your action
My Best Frugal Living Tips To Try In 2020
1. Review Your Spending During the Previous Year
The first and most important thing to do is review your spending. Where does all the money go?
Reduce or eliminate any service that is unused and unnecessary. You need to start thinking about the difference between things you need and things you want. Make a list of all your monthly bills, including utility and transportation costs, etc..
Review each bill to see if there is any room for reduction. The big ones to start with are the cable and cell phone services, beginning with those two bills you could potentially save $50 or more a month.
This step prepares you for creating a budget.
2. Remove the Clutter From Your Home
When you start tossing out items that never get used, you begin to ask yourself, why did I buy this? Add up the purchase price of all these items your either tossing or donating.
As you toss the clutter out of your home, the clutter in your financial brain will start to clear as well.
I have a strategy for purchasing just about anything other than food.
- Is this a need or a want?
- Do I have something similar, if yes, ask yourself, “why do you need another one?”.
- If I go forward with my purchase, what can I get rid of to make room for this item? A significant rule is one item in – one item out.
- Anything over $100, I put on hold to think about it. If I still want it then I’ll make the purchase. This action has saved me from making many unnecessary purchases.
- No online shopping after 9 PM, I make bad decisions when I shop tired.
Frugal and modern minimalist living go together like peas and carrots.
A good rule for me is to go through my kitchen, bathroom, and wardrobe once a year and maintain it throughout the year. If you follow rule number 4, you won’t have the need to declutter often. Well, maybe it’s a good idea to declutter the junk drawer every couple of months.
Read this post on how to declutter a small kitchen to get started on removing the clutter from your home.
3. Learn to Spend Within Your Means
Make a list of all your monthly bills, including utilities, transportation costs, etc.. Review each bill to see if there is any room for reduction. The big ones to start with are the cable and cell phone services, beginning with those two bills you could potentially save $50 or more a month.
I use a 3 checking account budget. Each paycheck is divided up and direct deposited.
- Account 1 – between my living expenses like mortgage, utilities, insurance, etc. , the things that pretty much never end.
- Account 2 – the second account is for repayment of my loans and the remains of my credit card debts. As bills are paid in full I’ll increase the payments on other bills.
- Account 3 – the third account is for my personal expenses, this is the account I use for buying clothes, treats, dining out, anything I want. My third account also has a connected holiday club account I use to save up for the holiday spending season so I avoid debt.
I have all my bills set up on autopay.
4. Resist Instant Gratification Purchases
Wait 24 hours before making and large or frivolous items. Ask the clerk to put the item on hold.
Simple Frugal Travel Tips
5. Learn To Travel Light
Save time and money with carry-on luggage only, checked bag fees. It’s like a game now, how light can I travel? I started with standard carry-on luggage that fit in the overhead bin. A few years ago, coming home from a 3 day trip I hadn’t worn half of the clothes I packed, and now I travel with under the seat luggage.
The stress of being first on the plane is eliminated. If there is a space overhead, great, if not I’m covered.
Think about it, do people really notice that you are wearing the same shoes you had on yesterday?
Build A Frugal Wardrobe
6. Take care of your clothing and follow your washing instructions
Avoid damage to your garments and follow the proper washing instructions. I line dry most of my clothing, it’s the dryer that causes the most damage and fades your clothes.
Check out my post on line-drying your clothes. Thrift store shopping can be a great way of finding quality clothes and household items for a fraction of the cost. Don’t forget about sites like eBay for discounted slightly used clothing.
My one tip would be to be patient – you do have to rummage through the racks before you find something good sometimes!
7. Declutter your closet
We all have those clothes that we keep for those “just-in-case” times, you know; just in case I get invited to a formal ball, just in case I lose 20 pounds, just in case I ….., you get the drift here.
You need to detach yourself from the pieces of fabric that sadly hang unused in your closet and drawers. Donate them, and you bring joy to someone who was looking for just the exact item you let go of. I had been sadly storing items I have not worn for over ten years, bye-bye to those dated clothes once and for all.
If I can do it, you can!
A few books you might enjoy:
The Classic Ten
Frugal Living Tips for Food in 2020
8. Create a monthly food budget
My food budget is $125 a week or roughly $6500 a year. I buy local and healthy when possible and sometimes that just costs more. I’m putting my money where my mouth is, literally. This may sound like a high number to some, but we rarely eat out, two or three times a month at most.
Based on government data someone in my income bracket spends about $8000 a year on food at home and $3750 a year dining out for a family of 3. Since I have two people in my household, I’ll need to adjust the numbers down a bit. After looking at the government statistics, maybe I’m not so far off the mark.
The USDA’s thrifty food budget for a family of 2 under 50 years old is $385.40 a month; the liberal food plan budget is $766.10 as of January 2018.
Comparing your food budget to others’ can give you a rough idea if your spending is way out of line, use these tools to fine-tune your spending based on your budget.
With some planning and a few coupons, you can create an affordable and healthy food plan that works for you and save money on food.
9. Cook at home more
I sincerely love to cook so much that I have another blog with my recipes and it’s one of the best frugal living tips because it not only saves money it’s also healthier. Cooking from scratch is generally cheaper than remade meals bu not always. I use a combination of packaged foods, grocery hot bar items, and cooking from scratch to create the perfect balance of time and money-saving meals.
10. Invest in a Vacuum Sealer
Especially, if you live in a one or two-person household, it really reduces waste when you buy larger quantities and repackage into smaller quantities.
This vacuum sealer on Amazon is a best seller and under $50.
11. Take packed lunches instead of dining out for lunch.
It’s easy to part with small amounts of cash every day, but it adds up. A brown bag lunch day can make a huge difference in your wallet.
Remember leftovers from dinner make great lunches.
If you don’t have a refrigerator at work invest in a good lunch bag that will keep the contents cold and at a safe temperature. Here are a few suggestions for lunch bags.
12. Grow your own herbs
Herbs at the grocery store are packaged in too large of quantities for me to ever use them up before their expiration. Now, I grow Basil and Cilantro on my balcony and can run out and snip off the amount I need for my recipe.
13. Shop seasonally at the Farmers Market
Check out this post on Shopping the Farmers Market.
14. Find the Discount Days at Your Local Grocery Store.
Local stores often have a senior discount day, take your Mom shopping and take advantage of the discounts! It’s a twofer, spending time with Mom and saving a little cash att he same time.
15. Buy food in bulk carefully
Buying in bulk when you can is a frugal the cornerstone of frugal grocery shopping. Purchase non-perishables like rice, pasta, dried beans, canned tuna and salmon and other items with along shelf life in bulk.
16. Use a Re-Usable Water Bottle
I hate using plastic and most of the water bottles I see are made in China, I’m skeptical of chemicals leeching into my water from these metal or plastic containers.
For years I’ve used a 16-ounce glass Pelligino bottle and I purchased a wine stopper to securely keep the water from spilling out. I toss the bottle into my purse and take it with me to work.
Save the environment, save your money, and reuse a bottle you already have on hand. Half-size 375 ml wine bottles also work great.
Frugal Living Tips on Beauty
Practice the KISS Method….Keep it Simple Sweetie
17. Find your skincare routine
Mine is so simple, moisturize in the morning, cleanser in the evening and serum before bed.
Take some time and really think about everything you use and, more importantly, everything you own but rarely or never use.
Take all your make-up, cleanser, moisturizers, everything out and put in a shoebox under the bathroom sink. Pull it out when you need it then store it on a more easily accessible place in the bathroom. After a couple of weeks, you’ll know what you really use. Toss the rest as part of your bathroom decluttering and minimalist tendencies.
18. Invest in makeup that works for your lifestyle
This is such a personal area that I say buy what feels right. For me, I found an inexpensive moisturizer and serums that work beautifully but am compelled to buy expensive eyeliner and lipstick. It’s all in the balance and what makes you feel good.
19. Do your own nails or find local Salon discounts
Doing your own nails saves money, lot’s of money if you have your nails done every week. I like to compromise and spring for a professional pedicure at the start of each season and do my own in-between as needed. I succumbed to marketing and bought the Pedi-Perfect, and I love it.
Getting a pro manicure or pedicure is a nice treat and doesn’t need to be expensive if you’re not salon loyal. Check out sites like Living Social and Groupon for discounts.
20. Staying Motivated
I stay motivated by reading other blogs and books on simple living and more tips on frugal living.
These are a few of my favorites and hope they become yours as well:
- Affluenza –
- The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify – Francine Jay
- Tough Times Playbook – Donna Friedman
- The More Of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own – Joshua Becker
- The Year of Less – Cait Flanders
- Your Money or Your Life –
I hope these frugal living tips have motivated you to start your own frugal journey.
more from the frugal muse