Best Frugal Living Tips
Whenever people think of having a better life, the default mentality is thinking that they need to earn more. While there’s some truth to that, there’s also an alternative – one that only requires in shift in mindset—frugal living.
This article touches on the benefits of living frugally and provides tips on how to apply a frugal mindset in the different areas of life.
First off, what is frugal living?
Not to be confused with being cheap (which has going for the lowest possible cost as the bottom line), frugal living is getting the most value for money and making it go even further, without sacrificing quality. It also means being more mindful with your resources, prioritizing things that are important to you and reducing spending on things that aren’t.
For example, at home, a frugal person may take a minimalist approach – a small living area with only a small couch and center table, and TV, which applies to most of the house. They have only what they need. But they embrace this choice because they value traveling and experiencing new things.
They can also choose to use public transportation instead of buying a car because they understand that they wouldn’t have the need to earn more to pay for the monthly amortization of the car. This means having more time to do the things they enjoy – like spending time with loved ones or pursuing passion projects. This also results in a better quality of life with much less stress.
How can I be frugal but not cheap?
As alluded to earlier, if you focus on quality and not just the price, that’s a good start to being frugal and not cheap. For example, a cheap person would buy fast fashion items regularly. These items may be trendy, but they typically don’t last very long. A frugal person would invest in quality jeans, jacket, and a few quality shirts. They may cost more up front, but in the long term, you wind up spending more on cheaper items that you buy regularly.
Another example would be when going on trips. A cheap person would jump on airfare sales even if it means long layovers, no in-flight meals, and no transfers. A frugal person would scour the internet to find great deals. If it means needing to form a group of four to get lower rates, that’s what they would do. In the end, they’d have a better experience than just jumping on a cheap airfare.
Again, it’s a mindset – requiring resourcefulness and practicing discretion to be able to not scrimp on quality. That’s at the core of frugal living.
Frugal Living Tips
- Meal planning is a great way to save both money and time. One tip is to plan your meal based on what you already have at home. Then, you write your shopping list to fill in the gaps your meal plan. This way, you avoid buying things you don’t really need and forces you to use what you already have.
- Even the way you cook can go a long way. For example, instead of cooking just one meal, experiment with preparing enough food for two families. You’ll notice that in the long run, you’re saving on utilities as turning on your cooker costs money. In the same way, you should always look to utilize a hot oven. If you know you’ll be using an oven (like a roast dinner), it would be wise to squeeze in something else (like baking) to optimize your energy use.
- Start a hobby. It’s a great way to take time away from things that cost money – like buying tickets for a hot show or going to the bar. For example, if you live near a park, maybe you can take up biking or running. This is particularly effective if you have a family as kids can enjoy just about anything with a little prodding.
- You could also get to know your local library. Apart from physical books, most modern libraries now provide access to newspapers, e-books, magazines, and even online courses. Some even hold regular events. It’s not only a frugal alternative for spending free time, it also takes away from screen time – something we could all use.
When you have kids, it’s pretty much a necessity to own a car. But if it stretches your budget close to the limit, do you really need two? Not every member of the family needs a car all the time. As touched on earlier, instead of driving, maybe you can bike, take public transportation, or even walk. If you’re not ready to give up your car yet, you can start with using it less using the alternatives provided above. You’ll soon begin to notice how much more you’ll get to know your neighborhood.
- There’s an increasing number of cashback apps available today. If you haven’t heard of apps like Ebates and Ibotta, these apps basically tally rebates whenever you shop at partner stores. While they’re mainly designed to drive traffic to partner stores, the great thing about them is that there’s basically a partner store for things you buy regularly.
- Be mindful or purchases. This may seem like it should go without saying, but in this context – it’s about asking yourself if you need to own something to be able to use it. There are plenty of services that rent all sorts of things out – suits, equipment, and other things you may only need to use once or twice. Instead of racking up credit card debt for something you can just rent instead, then don’t swipe.
- Decluttering your things is also a good exercise in frugality. When you audit the things you own, you’ll find that there are plenty of things you no longer use or forgot you even had. This prevents duplicate purchases and allows you to get rid of the things you don’t need in place of those that are important to your life.
Living frugally doesn’t require a massive lifestyle change. It’s just being more mindful of your spending and of what really matters to you. Start with the smaller things, and as you practice it, watch it grow into a habit and trickle down to the other aspects of your life.