11 Tips for Frugal Living does not include tired suggestions like, “Make espresso at home instead of buying drinks at expensive coffee shops” or extreme ideas like, “Take cold showers.” No thank you! These 11 tips for frugal living are attitude adjustments and ones that can implemented over time – as in baby steps – so that they become normal, stick around, and are habit forming. Once you see how easy it is to live a more frugal life, you’ll wonder what took you so long to come around. That’s what happened to me!
11 Tips for Frugal Living
- Think differently – This is the start of frugal living – Think about “redirecting” of resources rather than spending them. Instead of thinking of having to make cuts or doing without and sacrificing, consider that your money is going into your savings account rather than into someone else’s profit category.
- Save first – put your paycheck into savings first and then live on less – Automate those savings! When you receive a paycheck, have it direct deposited into your savings account first and then have a lower amount transferred into your checking account for living expenses. This will help you save first. If you can keep your expenses low while your income goes up, you’ll be saving without thinking about it.
- Think zero and low cost vs. “establishing a budget” – Change your thinking to start each expenditure at the lowest point rather than picking an arbitrary “budget” number. So often we want a budget to work with so we can know how much we get to spend. What if your budget is zero and you have to get by without spending anything (or at least not much)?
- Creative! Get creative and don’t buy “off the rack” – whether it’s for clothing, food, or hotels. Look for ways to save by not following the path of consumption. Instead of going to the mall for clothing, host a clothing exchange instead. Don’t buy the processed already cooked meal and try cooking from scratch instead. You can even freeze your own food for a later meal. Don’t go to a hotel – try home swapping or AirBnB instead. Life is richer when you have to be creative!
- Even when splurging, spend less – We all need to indulge, but find ways to spend less money while doing it. Need a manicure? Go to a
beauty schoolcosmetology institute and let students “practice” on your hands for a lot less than what you’d be paying at a salon. For me, I love cashmere (anything!) but I shop for it second-hand and then I’m willing to mend a hole or two so that I can have gorgeous clothing but I’m spending a lot less money to have it.
- Find new pastimes or activities – This is tricky for women because most of us love to shop and for many, it’s a sport. Find a new activity to do with your girlfriends other than “retail therapy” and have zero regrets when the credit card statement arrives in the mail. If you truly LOVE to shop (which I completely understand because I do!), round up your friends and go to estate sales, vintage stores or root through the Goodwill Clearance store bins. Shopping fun and no regrets!
- Turn everyday occurrences into fun “events” – This is all about how we view activities or how we “spin” things in life. Bring a picnic to pick berries and you’ve got a fun outing and fresh berries for smoothies all winter. Declare a no small packaged food snacks rule and bake cookies or muffins and freeze them for school lunches or snacks. Read a family book out-loud and then reserve the movie from the library. You can have book-group/movie-review without spending any money or eating bad popcorn that you spent too much money on.
- Embrace healthy cooking at home – To become a good cook takes practice but the more you do it, the better you’ll become. There is so much to be saved by eating wholesome foods cooked at home. The savings come in less money spent at restaurants but also less money spent on health care costs! Believe me when I tell you my early meals were from boxes and were processed foods that I wouldn’t dream of eating today. Cooking at home from scratch doesn’t take much longer than buying mixes and is so much healthier for us. Eating dried beans that get cooked at home is another huge money saver. I’m with Michael Pollan who says, “You are what you cook.”
- Start saving behind the scenes – The FAITH categories of spending (F – Food, A – Apparel – clothing for yourself and your home, I – Insurance, T – Transportation, H – Housing) afford plenty of places where you can spend less, and yet, not have it impact your actual way of life. Begin saving today with a price comparison on your insurance. Or, give a call to your mortgage company and ask to refinance –without fees – because you’re such a good customer. Ask for discounts and you’ll be surprised how often the answer is, “Yes!”
- Think “old fashioned living” – Look for ways to implement the rhyme from the Great Depression “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!” Whenever I buy coffee or a jar of peanut butter, I know that I’m keeping the can or jar to reuse it. To make my clothing last longer, I hang it dry rather than let it get ruined by a full cycle in the dryer. Instead of tossing out food, I look for ways to freeze it, make it into fruit butter or bake with it, or use vegetable scraps and meat bones for homemade broth. There’s nothing new about old fashioned living – we just need to get back to it!
- Look for ways to save without spending – don’t “shop to save” – The logic involved with “Look how much money I saved by buying this stuff,” doesn’t always compute. If you really use coupons for items you and your family eat and use them, by all means, continue utilizing them. If you’re stock-piling for the sake of getting good deals, it’s time to look at the why.
This is a start , what would you add to the list? What’s your favorite saving method?
Go Gingham related links: Yes – 11!
- Budgeting and how to track expenses – Part 1
- Budgeting and how to track expenses – Part 2
- Budgeting and how to track expenses – Part 3
- Living a frugal life by choice: strategic frugality
- Viewing time as a luxury – it’s a precious commodity
- How finances figure in frugality
- The key to saving: frugal living is the key to saving
- What does it mean to budget? Find out here!
- Why we all need to balance our checkbooks regularly – checking your balance online doesn’t count!
- Frugal living secrets: Reducing FAITH (food, apparel, insurance, transportation and housing) costs
- Tried and true investing strategies for regular folks like me!