Frugality is often misunderstood. It doesn’t necessarily mean going without. It’s just about making smart financial decisions that allow you to get more for your money, or get what you need by spending less. You’ll often find that those who have lots of money are among the best at living frugally. That’s because it’s a habit which, if practised consistently, will always result in you having more money in your pocket, and help you make better financial decisions.
In this article, we have tried to distil everything we know about making frugal choices into a clear list of frugal living tips that are likely to have the greatest impact on your life, and finances. We hope you find it useful.
What Does Being Frugal Mean?
Being frugal does not mean not buying anything at all. It does not mean sacrificing your essential needs. What it DOES mean is being very deliberate about what you spend money on, and not wasting any of it.
The following frugal living tips are the result of years of frugal living. We’ve selected the tips we feel will be the most effective in helping you to live more frugally each day.
Top 10 Frugality Tips
- Change your attitude. Frugality is more than just a way of living. It is a state of mind. If you want to start a frugal living, the first step to take is to develop responsibility. You are the only one who controls your life, you are responsible for what happens in your personal finances. If you condition your mind that you want to live as frugally as possible, everything else will follow smoothly. It becomes a habit.
You have to commit and be proactive. Take a look at your income, your expenses and your budget. Try to understand where your money is going. If you have a hard time accounting for it, that means you are spending your money the wrong way and now is the time to change that habit.
- Create a budget. Create a detailed budget that works well for you then stick to it. Make a list of your expenses with the corresponding amount so you are able to accurately track your exact cost of living. Having a structure to your spending habits will let you see where to give more and where to cut down.
Stick to your budget and avoid temptations and pressure from people close to you. Starting a frugal life can be a challenge but it will become easier easy once it becomes a habit.
- Buy only what you need, and buy it in bulk. One rule of a frugal life is to spend only on the things you need. If you go to malls to shop, make sure all the items in your cart are things that are useful to you. Buy with a purpose. If possible, buy in bulk or wholesale. It will save you a lot more than buying items individually or in small portions. You can apply this to most products, from cleaning products through to meat. If you buy in bulk, you will almost always save money in the long run.
- Minimize mall time. Minimize going to malls or shopping centers as much as possible. The less time you spend around shops, the less likely you are to buy. Make a list of everything you need to buy and make that a guide as you shop. Try to avoid impulse purchases at all costs.
Stick to that list no matter what. It takes discipline to do this but you can do this!
- Cook your own food and eat at home. This may sound silly but it’s extremely effective. The amount you spend on food from restaurants and take-outs is more than double that of cooking your own food.
You can cook and store leftovers in the freezer. You can even have a meal plan of dishes with a calculated budget.
- Don’t be an impulsive buyer. This is one of our most important frugal living tips. Think before you buy. Always ask yourself if you need it. What will you benefit from it? Will it help you? Will you consider it a smart purchase six months from now? Is it worth the money?
Most of us are guilty of being impulsive one time or another. ‘It’s my money, I work for it, I deserve to have this,’ is a common thought process. If you can avoid this impulse you will save hundreds of dollars in the long run.
- Buy surplus or second-hand items. Reuse and repurpose your clothes.
A large part of most people’s budget goes on clothes and other home improvement materials like furniture and fixtures. If you already have that furniture but it’s starting to look old, try to see if it can be improved by repair or paint – rather than replacing it. Paint can do wonders. If it is becoming unusable and needs replacement, you should try looking for second-hand items in surplus shops. You can find some great bargains in shops like this.
It’s the same with clothes. Be creative and you’ll be rewarded with some great bargains.
- Be creative and create free fun things for your friends and family.
Living a frugal life does not mean sacrificing your happiness. You can still be happy without spending much. Afterall, it’s the thought that counts.
If you want to bond with friends, you can do it inside the house playing games and watching movies. You will not only save the movie tickets, but also the money and time you would have spent on travel.
There are a lot of activities you can do with your family without going to luxurious places that will cost you hundreds of bucks. Bonding doesn’t need to be expensive. What’s important is the time you spend together.
- Minimize using your credit card. Credit cards are one of the worst temptations to living a frugal life. Swiping left and right feels so good, but you are likely to regret it in the long run. To avoid having regrets, try to always pay in cash. Use only your credit card in emergency situations. This will make parting with the money feel more real, and make you think harder before doing it each time. This can be an extremely effective long term strategy for living more frugally.
- Learn to say no. Set your goals and priorities. Learn to say no to sales that offer big discounts, to friends inviting you for coffee or for family vacations that require large financial outlay. You know how much you need and how you want to live your life. Don’t be afraid to stick to it.
Living frugally doesn’t have to be hard. Do it one step at a time. By making compromises today you will ensure you are financially stable and debt-free in the future.