What does it mean to be frugal? The basic definition of frugality is to be less wasteful and more resourceful with what you have. However, living frugally does not mean that we have to deprive ourselves. It means being more mindful of how you spend your money so you can afford the things you really love. Here are some great frugal living tips that are easy to incorporate into everyday life.
10 Frugal Living Tips Every Family Should Know
Make a Commitment
Frugal living is about determining what you want out of your life and finding a way to make it happen. This requires a commitment, but it does not need to be hard. You just need to live a bit smarter when it comes to managing your spending and savings.
Set Your Financial Goals
Writing down your goals will make them more tangible than just verbalizing them. As you review these frugal living tips, picture every dollar saved as a way to get closer to your goals.
Review Your Spending
You need to become an expert on how much you earn and how much you spend. Without a baseline, you cannot create a successful budget for saving money. If you have not done this before, start small. Carefully track your income and spending for 2-3 months. Do you recognize places where you might be able to make more frugal choices? Here’s a great link about creating a frugal budget.
Coupons and Rebates
You don’t need to be a coupon fanatic. Gone are the days of clipping coupons from the newspaper. Many retailers and grocery chains have their own apps to access coupons and rebates right from your smartphone. Spend a few minutes checking for coupons before you head to the grocery store, and you could easily save 25% or more.
Minimize Your Credit Usage
The best way to live within your means is to avoid charging anything on credit cards. Try taking your credit cards out of your wallet for a month and pay only with cash, check or debit card. This exercise will force you to keep a close eye on your spending balance so you don’t overspend.
Grocery Shopping Tips
I believe every family should belong to a big box store like Costco, Sam’s Club, etc. Bulk buying makes practically everything cheaper than what you’ll find at your local grocery store. I can’t imagine paying for tissues, toilet paper, and paper towels without bulk buying. Discount retailers like Walmart and Target with grocery sections are decent options as well. Other frugal living tips for groceries:
- Shop online – you’ll be less tempted to grab things you don’t need. Many grocery chains have delivery services. Or you can use a third party like Instacart.com
- Create a meal plan and shop with recipes in mind and stick to those items.
- Buy store brand instead of name brand items
- Compare price per unit – bigger is not necessarily cheaper.
- Choose in-season fruits and vegetables
- Check for manager specials in the meat section
Clothes Shopping Tips
My top rule for buying clothes is NEVER, I mean NEVER pay full price. Wait for sales, purchase out of season, and shop and discount retailers.
Before you consider buying any new clothes, be sure to go through your closet and purge what you haven’t worn for over 2 years. In doing so, ask yourself why you did not wear these items? Avoid making the same mistake. Other money saving tips for clothing:
- Set a budget for each season
- Stick with classic items rather than trendy pieces
- Choose quality pieces that will last longer
- Shop thrift stores (especially great for growing kids)
- Rent formalwear for special occasions.
Extra clothing tip: Washing in cold will cut your energy bills and still clean your clothes.
Tips for Dining Out
Eat out less often. Have a favorite dish at a restaurant you love? Ask for the recipe or search online to find something similar so you can make it at home. When you do dine out, use reservation apps like Open Table to find restaurants offering specials. Other frugal living ideas for dining:
- Join restaurant mailing lists for discounts and specials
- Stick to water-alcohol drives the bill up tremendously
- Look for restaurants where kids eat free
- Consider going out for a meal other than dinner, which is the most expensive
- Order online and create a date night or family meal at home.
Seek out Free Home Entertainment
Your local library can be a great source of free family entertainment. Many libraries now allow you to check out video games, audiobooks, movies and more. Some even connect you to streaming services so you don’t need to leave home.
DIY Instead of Buy
There are so many things that we use in our day to day lives that we can make on our own. For those who like lotions and potions, you can make homemade candles, soap and beauty products. Homemade sauces and jams are far cheaper than store-bought. Home cleaning products are quite easy to make with simple ingredients like baking soda and vinegar. Try baking your own bread, cakes, and cookies.
Take Good Care of Your Car
We have two cars with over 80,000 miles on them. We keep up with scheduled maintenance and have both vehicles fully paid off. Find a mechanic you trust when a few fixes are needed. They will typically be far cheaper than the dealership.
Keep Yourself Healthy
The healthier you are, the less likely you’ll need to pay expensive health care bills. Don’t forget about your teeth too. Keep up with annual visits to both your doctor and dentist. Ask if they have a sliding scale if you don’t have insurance. The cost of your health and that of your family should always be a top priority.
Consider what you really NEED
In an age where everything is at our fingertips, it can be challenging to differential what we need versus what we want. I may want a luxurious cashmere robe, but do I need it? No. If you can’t master the skill of knowing the difference between needs and wants, you’ll continue to drain your bank account.
Back off on Shopping
Of course, knowing when NOT to shop is also important to frugal living. Waiting patiently for a sale or markdown may not be easy, but it will help you meet your financial goals.
By adopting these frugal living tips and habits, you’ll be on your way to controlling your spending.