If you’re just starting to dive into the world of frugal living, this helpful guide for frugal beginners is exactly what you need.
Whether you want to save more money for retirement, pay off debt, live a more affordable life with kids in tow, or for something else entirely, the key is mindfulness. When you’re aware of where your money goes and why, you can focus on conserving as much as possible and putting it where it matters most.
Before we dive in, it’s important to recognize that being frugal isn’t the same as being cheap. It’s about redirecting your money to where you really want it to be.
If skimping on your food budget means you get to travel the world, that’s living frugally. If saving now means you can retire early to a luxurious life later, that’s frugal, too. Your frugal lifestyle will be unique to you and your goals, and that’s okay!
Begin to Budget (if You Haven’t Already!)
The first step in beginning a frugal life at home is to budget. Begin by taking a look at your expenses—all your expenses. Do you know exactly where your money is going?
Whether you use a credit card, prepaid card, cash, bank account, or combination of those, you need to compile every single expense and look at where your money is going.
Don’t leave out the little things like vending machines or convenience store runs. If you have bad spending habits like eating out often, buying coffee, alcohol, soda, and other beverages, or smoking, include those too (even if it’s hard to look at on paper).
Frugal living is a lifestyle that emphasizes mindfulness. Every time a cent leaves your pocket, take a mental note of where it is going and if it’s a decision you feel confident in.
Using a credit or debit card can help you see exactly what you spend easily. Just take a look at your history in a banking app or on your monthly statement. If you use cash or a prepaid card, make a note of it (how much, where, and for what) every time you spend money. You can do this on your phone or on paper.
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Make Changes: Smart Small and Grow Frugal living Habits
Once you see where you spend money, you can decide where you can save the most money in the easiest way. Lifestyle changes tend to be more difficult than making a one-time call (or click), so you might want to start with your recurring monthly bills.
Lower your monthly expenses by cutting out recurring membership charges. You can also call your providers to lower your bills.
Consider if you can eliminate or reduce any of these expenses:
Magazines are expensive, and you can get lots of free content online.
Things like HelloFresh and FabFitFun can be enjoyable, but you should do the math to find out if getting items shipped regularly saves you money or wastes it.
Memberships can save you money in the long run, but that doesn’t mean they always will.
Are you wasting money on memberships to places like this?
- The gym
- The pool
- The zoo
- Community Centers (like YMCA)
- Costco or Sam’s Club
Consider reducing your channels and think about if you need cable at all. Paying for a streaming service instead could reduce your monthly bill.
Although opting for streaming services instead of cable can save you money, they can pile up and cost you a lot of money.
Do you pay for any of these services that you don’t use?
- Apple TV
- Apple Music
- YouTube Premium
Call your wireless provider. Then, ask if they can lower your bill. Be polite, tell them you’ve been a loyal customer for however many years, and leverage your power. Research other providers in the area, and tell them you’re considering switching for the lower rate—they’ll usually cave. And if they don’t, go ahead and switch.
Just like with your cable and internet bills, you can probably lower your car insurance bill. When you call, be polite, and ask if there’s anything they can do to lower your rates. After they give you a discount, keep asking. There might be more! Some insurance policies also give you discounts if you can pay your premium in full instead of monthly.
Whether your vice is gas station snacks or craft supplies, cutting out overly indulgent expenses that add up is an essential part of frugal living.
Avoid spur of the moment expenses like:
- Alcohol (especially out at bars and restaurants)
This isn’t to say you have to say no to your favorite Two Buck Chuck every time—give yourself a small allowance for these things each month. Once you go over, you’ll have to wait until next month.
Tackle the Grocery Bill
If eating out is a significant drain on your paycheck, cooking at home is a skill you must master to save money.
Changing your eating and cooking habits can be a big lifestyle change, but it is essential for frugal living. Luckily, there are plenty of easy and cheap meals you can make at home, even if you’re a novice cook.
And when it comes to what you buy at the store, you can cut costs even more. The average American spends $250 per month per person on food. If you shop strategically, you could lower that to as little as $30.
Beginning a Frugal living Lifestyle
If you’ve decided it’s time to start saving more money, you’ve already made the first step toward living frugally.
Once you tackle the tips and tricks here, you’ll see how a frugal life can benefit you in so many ways. Cutting costs in many different areas allows you to put that cash towards what matters.
Here are a few other areas in your life where you can save.
On average, one American uses over 100 gallons of water a day. 100 gallons. Cut your waste when it comes to water, electricity, gas, and food because everything you overuse, throw away, or put down the drain is cash you’re losing.
Clothes can last a long time (if you don’t have kids), and frequent shopping won’t help you save money. Make the most out of what you buy, and shop at thrift stores to save.
Take advantage of free entertainment and things you can do at home. You don’t need to spend money at movie theaters, museums, or other public places to have fun.
If you want to buy a home, consider purchasing something smaller than what you want. Although it won’t be your dream home, it will help you get there faster while still living a more conducive lifestyle to your needs.
If you can, consider sharing a car with someone in your household. Buy a cheaper car instead of a new luxurious one.
After weddings and events, people tend to drop off décor and other items at thrift stores. They don’t need it anymore, and you can pick up beautiful items at a low cost.
Couponing and Rebate Apps
When you’re smart about saving, coupons and rebates can save you a lot of money.
Updating your home doesn’t need to be expensive. When you want something, consider if you can make it yourself for cheaper.