If you are looking for a life outside of being stressed out about money all the time and want to make a change whilst still being able to accomplish your financial goals, then perhaps you should be thinking about living a frugal life.
Most people think that being frugal means growing your own potatoes or having 1 family toothbrush that you all share but honestly that is not the case at all. (If you share a toothbrush that’s just gross – Sorry!)
Whilst you can grow your own potatoes if you want too there is no need for you to do this in order for you to be classed as frugal.
Living a frugal life is so much more than these basic things.
Let’s take a look at what a frugal life is really all about.
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What exactly is frugal living?
The dictionary definition of the word frugal is “careful when using money or food, or (of a meal) cheap or small in amount” (source)
Whilst this is true, there is so much more to living frugally than this.
Living a frugal life has become so much more than just being a penny pincher.
It’s about trying to get the best bang for your buck.
It’s about making a choice to use your money wisely and cutting back in areas where you can.
Most of us overpay for things without realizing it and never think about how to reduce our bills or save money.
There are so many places where you can reduce costs nowadays and it doesn’t even have to be a painful task.
You can do a lot of cost cutting with just the touch of an app on your phone.
Being frugal means giving priority to the things you want to pay for over things you have to pay for.
You might have to pay for home insurance but you may want to go on holiday.
To achieve your goal of going on holiday you will have to begin making cutbacks where you can to save money to pay for that holiday.
I’m sure you’re beginning to understand more about what frugal living really means.
How to become frugal without feeling like a cheapskate?
None of us wants to feel like we are being a cheapskate unless of course, we are a cheapskate.
There are many ways you can be frugal and not feel like you are being a cheapskate amongst your friends.
Just because you go out on an evening you don’t have to stick to drinking tap water. You can still enjoy yourself. There is nothing to stop you from doing that.
You can cut costs in other areas such as on your travel costs, groceries, utility bills, credit cards and even on car hire.
These are areas that don’t necessarily show that you are being “so-called cheap”.
To be honest I think it’s unfair to call being money conscious cheap. They are certainly not the same thing.
It’s important to know the difference between being cheap and being frugal.
Being cheap is always about not spending money or spending as little as possible even on the things you enjoy. Being cheap is not wanting to pay for anything at all.
Whereas being frugal is about paying the best price for something. Once you understand the difference you will easily be able to begin your frugal journey.
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Why would someone want to live a frugal life?
It’s in a person’s interest to live frugally because being frugal enables you to spend money on the things you actually want to and save where you need to.
Some people chose to live frugally because they want to clear debts, others so they can purchase a new house or a new car.
For some its a simple lifestyle choice because they want to.
No matter what the reason is, being frugal is always a good choice to make.
Let’s take a look at some of the different areas you can begin to live a frugal life.
FRUGAL TIPS – MANAGING MONEY
1. HAVE A BUDGET
Your journey begins with a budget.
Your budget is the core of all your financial issues.
Having a budget will show you exactly where your money is going and any potential shortfalls that may be coming your way.
Without a budget, you can’t plan for anything. A budget will put you on the path to attaining your financial goals.
Write your budget down on paper and make it plain to see.
Don’t forget about your small one-off purchases because those can really throw off your budget if you miss them.
If you don’t already have a budget you can get a copy of my free budget worksheet by filling in the below form.
Saving is a must if you want to be truly frugal because sometimes life just happens and things go wrong.
Having savings is the difference between staying on top of unexpected expenses such as a car break down or an unexpected hospital bill and going into debt.
If you find it difficult to stay on top of your savings then Digit is a company that can help you out.
Digit analyzes your spending and automatically saves the perfect amount of money each day for you so you don’t have to think about it.
You can take a look at Digit here.
3. HAVE AN EMERGENCY FUND
Having an emergency fund is similar to having everyday savings but it is different in that you should only access this money in a complete emergency.
An emergency counts as a death in the family, your roof collapsing or if you were to lose your job unexpectedly.
It a good idea to start by aiming to save $1000 initially and work your way from there.
As a good ballpark, I would say if you can save up 3 months salary that’s usually a good place to start.
4. PLAN YOUR DEBTS
Debt payments should also be a part of your frugal lifestyle because having debt is an expense that you could probably do without.
Debts carry an interest rate so you’ll want to either stay away from that or keep the interest rate as low as possible.
Paying off your debt should be a part of your budget worksheet.
If you can, try to clear your debt as soon as possible rather than simply paying the minimum amount each month.
Doing this could save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
5. LOWER YOUR BILLS
Lowering your monthly bills is a great way to help you accomplish your dream of living frugally.
A great place to start is to look at which bills take up the most of your money and work your way from there.
Usually, you can call up your service provider and get them to take a look at your account to see if there are any savings you can make with your current or a more suited package.
FRUGAL TIPS – IN THE HOME
6. CUT YOUR CABLE
Seriously, cable is one of those things that you really just don’t need.
Just think about how much TV you actually watch each day or week and calculate how many hours it works out to be.
Now take a look at your cable bill and see if its really worth it or not.
My guess is that when you look at your bill in this way it will probably look quite costly.
We cut this cost in our family some time ago so we could live more frugally and it has saved us so much money.
Instead of having cable you could consider a subscription to Amazon prime video channels where you can watch subscription channels like HBO and STARZ.
You can start with a 7-day free trial here.
7. KEEP YOUR ENERGY BILLS DOWN
By simply turning down your heating thermostat by 1 degree you can save some dollars.
- Make sure lights are switched off in rooms no one is using
- Only buy energy efficient appliances
- Wash your clothes on a lower temperature
- Turn the tap off when you are brushing your teeth
- Make sure everyone showers around the same time to save on having to heat up the water multiple times a day.
Decluttering is a great way to get rid of things that you no longer need.
Not only does this reduce the build-up of junk in your home but you can sell things that you are no longer using.
eBay is a great place to get rid of your unwanted items. As the saying goes, one mans junk is another man’s treasure.
By getting rid of your unwanted items you can make some extra cash for your household.
It really is a win-win situation.
FRUGAL TIPS – IN THE KITCHEN
9. GROCERY SHOPPING
Grocery shopping is usually one of the biggest expenses on my budget worksheet. We are a family of 6 so we tend to get through food quite quickly.
Even though you may have a lot of mouths to feed you can still find simple ways to be more frugal.
Going shopping with a grocery list is a great way to get control of your spending.
Make sure you write your list down on paper before you head to the shops.
Once you get there actually stick to the items on your list and try not to deviate away from it.
My number one tip for going grocery shopping is to never go hungry.
Shopping whilst hungry is incredibly dangerous to your finances because you will buy everything in sight and come out with nothing meaningful.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
10. MEAL PLANNING
Meal planning is a great way to help you not to waste food.
It’s easy to head to the shops and purchase all the things that you think you might need only to find that you haven’t used them up before they expire.
This has happened to me more times than I care to remember. Its such a waste of money, money that could have gone elsewhere.
Meal planning just involves setting out which meals you are going to cook at the beginning of each week or month and buying the groceries around those meals.
If like me you don’t have the time or the patience to do this then you might be better off with a meal planning program.
Meal planners such as Platejoy enable you to choose which type of meals you would like by asking you a few short questions.
Platejoy will then give you a list of meals to suit your requirements in just a few short minutes along with the ingredients and the shopping list to go with it.
Not only does this save you time but it also saves you money because you are less likely to have food wastage.
You can try Platejoy free for 10 days here and use my code CRAZY10 to get $10 off your purchase.
11. MAKE FROM SCRATCH
One thing that I have started doing recently is making food from scratch.
There are things that I used to buy in the shops that really could have made at home myself if I had actually bothered to do it.
Things like Lasagne white and red sauce can easily be made at home. Buying that in jars can be costly.
Making chicken nuggets is another one. Personally, I think my chicken nuggets taste better than the stuff found in shops.
It might take some tweaking of recipes on your part but you can do it. Everything is always trial and error until you get what works for you.
FRUGAL TIPS – OUT AND ABOUT
12. PACKED LUNCH
This can save you lots of money each week.
Having a packed lunch doesn’t just have to be restricted to work lunch breaks it can also be extended to just being out on the go.
If you have children you will know that they are always wanting something to eat when you are out and about so by packing a lunch instead you can cut costs on eating out.
Eating out can be expensive compared to the cost of making your own sandwiches at home.
13. EAT BEFORE YOU GO OUT
You can save so much money here.
If you leave the house while you are hungry you are bound to spend money that you didn’t plan to.
Try to eat something before leaving home or take a small snack with you just in case.
If you don’t always have time to make something to eat yourself (we’ve all been there) then you could give Real Eats a try.
They provide healthy cooked meals for you so you don’t have to think about cooking at all, which is perfect if you find yourself always on the go.
You can choose your meals based on breakfast and dinner or just dinner.
You can get $40 off your first order by using the code AFX40 at the checkout.
Go ahead and save yourself, time and money whilst treating yourself.
14. CONSIDER NOT ALWAYS DRIVING
You don’t always have to drive everywhere you go.
Consider walking if it’s close enough or if you have a bike you can ride a few times a week instead.
You will not only be healthy and fit but you will also save a few dollars in petrol expenses too.
It’s always best to take holidays in seasons that are off-peak. Meaning when children are still at school.
I know this isn’t always possible because you may have school commitments but if you can, this is definitely the way to go.
You can literally get a holiday for a fraction of the cost by traveling in off-peak season.
It’s a great way to travel the world.
16. CAR MAINTENANCE
Staying on top of your car’s maintenance is really important.
Just by doing this you save yourself a mechanics bill. No one wants a mechanics bill.
By doing some simple car maintenance jobs you can make sure that your car is always running efficiently to avoid car breakdowns.
We all know how costly those can be.
FRUGAL LIVING – CASHBACK AND REWARDS
It’s always nice to get cashback and rewards on things that you already have to purchase anyway.
Using an app like Paribus is great for just that.
Paribus notifies you when there has been a drop in price on something that you have purchased.
They let you know there has been a drop in price and then help you to get the difference back.
It’s really simple to use.
You download the Paribus app, shop online as you normally would and then Paribus will notify you if the price on an item ever drops.
Paribus works in shops like:
There are many others too.
Not only do they help you to get a refund on price drops you can also get compensated for items that show up for late delivery and on hotel price drops too.
Sign up for Paribus here. Did I mention that its free to sign up? Give them a try.
Rakuten is another great app for saving money online with cashback rewards.
Rakuten offers cashback rewards for over 400 stores.
Wondering how it works?
Rakuten basically gets paid a commission for sending customers to individual websites. When they receive those commissions they share them with you. So simple.
It’s easy to use too.
Shop through the Rakuten app or online at rakuten.com
Choose the shop you want
Follow the link and Rakuten will do the rest.
You can choose to receive your free cash by cheque or via PayPal.
Use Rakuten to shop at places like:
The Body shop
and many, many more shops that I just can’t possibly list here.
You can take a look at all the shops for yourself right here.
Been thinking about cutting back on some of your bills but don’t have the time to go through each of them one by one?
You need to get Trim.
Trim is a great way to lower costs on subscriptions.
Its analyses your accounts to find any recurring subscriptions and then looks for ways to lower those costs for you.
Works for lowering your bills for cable and internet services and lowering interest charges on your overdraft facility.
TRIM is definitely one to consider joining if you want a more frugal life.
Ibotta is a couponing app that helps you save money on your everyday items.
There are different ways that you can earn with Ibotta.
You simply download the Ibotta app, add your favorite offers, purchase the products that you want and then redeem the offers available.
FRUGAL TIPS – INCOME GENERATION
It’s a great idea to make extra money where you can.
I’m not talking about getting a full-time job if you are a stay at home mom or a second job.
There are in fact more creative ways to make some easy extra cash.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for people who have children to work full time and still earn a decent wage.
Working online solves that problem.
No more travel costs
Flexibility to work when you want
Not locked into a set number of hours
This is a magic recipe and the earning potential when working from home is HUGE!
Don’t be fooled by the “scams” because there are legitimate jobs that do pay extremely well
Let’s take a look at some of those.
Proofreading has become more and more popular as there begins to be an increase in people wanting to work from home.
Proofreading is an excellent way to make some cash on the side for you and your family. Cash that can make a real difference
You only need to have a few available hours to work in your own time each month.
It’s perfect for those that have a lot of other commitments and can’t commit to a regular job.
Transcribing is one of those jobs that is well hidden. There is literally no competition in this field at all, so its up for grabs to whoever wants to take the leap of faith.
Transcribing can bring in a full-time wage of up to $65,000 depending on your availability and commitment.
Blogging is my favorite way to make an income because you are in full control of everything yourself.
Your potential to earn is down to you and the possibilities are endless.
As long as you are willing to put in a bit of hard work, you can make money
Blogs are particularly low maintenance to set up and can be started from as little as $3.95 a month.
If you want to give blogging try. You can sign up and get your hosting from Siteground here.
24. SURVEY JUNKIE
Now let me just be straight with you here. Taking online surveys will not make you rich. I repeat taking online surveys will not make you rich.
What online surveys will do is to make you a little bit of extra cash so that you can enjoy little things without having to worry.
You will be able to afford to get your hair and nails done or go out on a night out with your friends. It will basically provide you with fun money.
If you are just looking for some extra fun money then Survey junkie will be perfect for you.
Final thoughts on living a frugal life
Frugal living doesn’t have to be difficult. The main point of living a frugal life is to be conscious of where you are spending your money and trying to be smart with every dollar that you make.
Being frugal doesn’t mean that you are a penny pincher. In fact, I think living frugally is great for your overall health because when you are not in debt, you are not stressed and free to live your best life.
Do you have any other tips on ways to live more frugally? I would love to hear them.