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21 Simple Tips for Frugal People to Lead a Great Life

21 Simple Tips for Frugal People to Lead a Great Life

There are a lot of unflattering words associated with the word “frugal.” Cheap or tightwad are the two most common words thrown around. Additionally, it brings to mind images of deprivation, sacrifice, and lack.

However, I’ve noticed that they represent stereotypical notions of frugality. In turn, frugal people are unlikely to be attracted to these descriptors as they tend to undervalue, discount, and confuse this philosophy.

When it comes down to it, though, frugality isn’t about pinching pennies or denying yourself everything. The key is to live your life purposefully, align your spending with your values, and make conscious choices.

Now that I’ve said that, here are some simple tips on being frugal while living a great life.

1. Define your values and goals.

In order to be mindful of our spending, we must first understand what matters most to us. That might be easier said than done. To find out, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are there any core values you hold dear?
  • What are your long-term goals?
  • Are you pursuing your passion project, financial security, early retirement, or travel?

Having a clear vision will help you make better financial decisions. Rather than impulse purchases, you’ll put your hard-earned money towards experiences and things you truly enjoy.

2. Think about what’s necessary and what’s luxury.

The next step is to distinguish necessary expenses from luxury expenses. By making this distinction in your spending money, you can stop overspending on things you don’t really need.

A necessary expense is one that is incurred to ensure that basic needs are met. A necessary expense could include rent, mortgage payments, car payments, food, gasoline, utilities, medicine, and any expenses associated with childcare.

On the other hand, luxury spending refers to unnecessary discretionary expenses to maintain basic needs. Fine dining, entertainment, vacations, jewelry, and high-end vehicles are included in luxury spending.

Make a list of all your regular expenses and categorize them as necessary expenses or luxury expenses. Then, prioritize your necessary expenditures and try to minimize your luxury expenditures.

Does this mean you shouldn’t spend money on luxury items? Not exactly. The key here is to make sure you prioritize your spending correctly to save more than you spend.

3. Prioritize quality over quantity.

Being frugal means adjusting your spending habits. You can shift significantly by focusing on quality rather than quantity of possessions. In other words, you should buy higher-quality clothing, furniture, and appliances that will last for a longer time. By replacing your things less often, you will spend less and save more money over time.

For example, rather than buying clothes that only last one season, invest in wardrobe staples that last for years and can work in multiple seasons. In the long run, you will save more by investing in higher-quality items than in items of lower quality.

Don’t buy more; buy better.

4. Create a budget.

In order to be frugal, one must create a budget. Fortunately, most expenses, such as rent/mortgage payments, utility bills, car payments, credit card payments, etc., are paid monthly, making it easy to plan your budget.

You can determine your monthly income by dividing your annual net income by 12. To figure out your monthly expenses, add them all up. For example, if you heat your house in the winter, divide your yearly gas bill by 12. What’s left over from your income after your monthly expenses is what you use for living expenses, such as food, clothing, fuel for your car, entertainment, or travel.

Finally, money should always be left over for monthly savings. The need to save for unforeseen short-term expenses and long-term financial goals like retirement, college, and buying a house is crucial.

5. Set up an automatic financial system.

You can’t ignore the importance of automating your finances. Unless you consciously try to change your spending habits, you will likely fall into overspending again.

For example, you can start saving for retirement through your employer by automating your savings. Next, consider automating all of your bills. Take a look at your finances to see if there are any ways you can automate your finances and use frugal living tips.

6. Set a spending limit.

Are you struggling to keep your expenses under control? It’s actually easy with spending caps. Prepaid cards, for instance, can help you keep your spending under control so that you stay within your budget.

In addition to using cash envelopes, you can divide funds into different sections of your budget using envelopes. Your budget can be organized using envelopes so that you can easily understand what you need to do. Additionally, this helps you visualize your budget more clearly.

7. Don’t go large, go small.

You don’t have to live in a larger house just because you can afford it. Instead, live in a small house that still feels comfortable to you.

I’m not suggesting you should live in a two-room apartment with your family of five. If you live in a smaller house, though, you will be able to save thousands of dollars each year. Often, if you get rid of clutter from your home, you won’t need a large one.

Also, choosing a smaller car can save thousands of dollars. Choosing a car instead of an SUV, for instance, can save a lot of money. You can keep it comfortable without going overboard. Additionally, you’ll save money on gas.

8. Prioritize value over price.

There is a misconception that frugal living means always buying the cheapest item. The truth is that frugality isn’t only about focusing on quality but also about prioritizing value over price. When you spend money, whether on physical items or services, consider what you get instead of the cost.

It makes sense to pay upfront for a full year of an online subscription instead of paying monthly since the annual rate is more affordable. You may have to buy in bulk and spend more upfront for a lower price per item. Instead of focusing on the cost of a product or service, pay attention to the value it offers.

9. Use a 30-day list.

You can curb impulse purchases by creating a 30-day list. This list should be used for anything other than a true necessity like medicine or food. Put the date on the list when you add the item.

After you make the list, don’t buy anything for at least 30 days. Follow through with it. This system will result in you buying a lot less.

10. Make sure you live within your means.

To live within your means, you must manage your individualized finances and expenses in accordance with your current income and resources. You must spend money thoughtfully and wisely while remaining aware of your financial goals and limitations.

You can also live within your means by following these tips:

  • Don’t succumb to lifestyle inflation. You shouldn’t feel pressured to inflate your lifestyle as your income increases. Focus on what matters to you instead of keeping up with the Joneses.
  • The more you cook at home, the better. Eating out can drain your budget significantly. Take on the challenge of exploring the world of home cooking. In addition to being cost-effective, it’s also healthier and allows you to control portion sizes and ingredients. You can find recipes online and in cookbooks for every taste and skill level. Moreover, you’ll learn valuable cooking skills you’ll use for the rest of your life.
  • Take advantage of free and low-cost activities. Entertainment doesn’t have to be expensive, right? There are tons of free or low-cost things to do. Visit your local parks, libraries, museums (many offer free admission days), or community events. You can also make lasting memories with board game nights, potlucks with friends, or movie marathons at home.

11. Get a handle on bargaining.

When you bargain or haggle with a supplier, you are negotiating the price of a good or service.

However, there are appropriate and inappropriate times to bargain down prices. Don’t hesitate to negotiate and use this frugal tip when the time is right.

Also, negotiating and bartering are more than just talking down a price. As an alternative to cash, bartering can also involve trades and exchanges. You could, for instance, exchange some of your fresh produce with your neighbors for watching your dog if you have a garden.

12. Be careful when using credit.

Instead of using credit to buy things you can’t afford, use it for convenience rather than accumulating debt. In other words, you should also be strategic about using your credit card. You can leverage credit cards for savings if you practice healthy habits like monitoring your credit utilization, making purchases you plan for, and paying your balance off each month.

Further, use credit cards without annual fees and automatically offer cash back on each purchase, for example. You can save money by getting money back on your everyday purchases like utility bills or groceries.

13. Find ways to save money on groceries and home goods.

Home goods and food are necessities for everyone. It is possible to save money, however, if you shop carefully.

For instance, you can opt for store brands when you can for a cheaper alternative. Furthermore, consume more vegetables than meat and seafood, which can be expensive. Plenty of fresh, inexpensive vegetables and grains will be at your local farmer’s market during the summer months. You’re also supporting local farmers by doing this.

If you have access to a bulk consumer goods store like Costco or Sam’s Club, you can save a tremendous amount on the most common essentials. However, these items sell in bulk, so you’ll need a pantry or other storage space at home to store them, sometimes for months at a time.

14. Stay healthy.

While it may seem easier said than done, staying healthy is something that can save you a lot of money in the long run when it comes to doctor’s visits, hospital bills, and prescription medicine. Remember, a little prevention goes a long way. So, maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly.

In addition, exercise doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s easy to stay active by doing bodyweight exercises, watching free workout videos online, or walking or running outdoors. There are also many free fitness programs and classes offered in many communities.

15. Shop savvily.

When it comes to money, time, and other resources, frugality is about making wise decisions. For smart spending choices, become familiar with consumer resources. Here are a few strategies to consider:

  • Make a shopping plan. By making a list and sticking to it, you can avoid impulse purchases. If it makes sense for your household, you may want to consider buying staples in bulk.
  • Use coupons and discounts. Despite their bad rap, coupons are a form of currency. You can purchase the things you need using coupons and discount codes.
  • Price-match policies. Most retailers honor lower prices if you find the same item at a competitor. You can also take advantage of this policy when shopping online.
  • Price adjustments. Retailers also often offer price adjustment policies, such as price protection, where they will refund the difference in price if the price of an item you purchased falls within a certain period of time.
  • Embrace the pre-loved. It’s okay to buy secondhand items. Consignment shops, thrift stores, and online marketplaces are treasure troves waiting to be discovered. Almost anything you can imagine can be found gently used at a fraction of the retail price. In addition to saving money, you will contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle.
  • DIY whenever possible. There is a wealth of information available online that can teach you how to do everything from simple repairs to home décor projects.. You can save a lot of money by learning basic DIY skills in the long run. Moreover, completing a project on your own is an experience that is unbeatable.
  • Product warranties. When you buy a product, follow any manufacturer’s requirements, like registering your product. If your item breaks before the warranty expires, this can inform you about recalls and allow you to replace it rather than repurchase it. In addition, many credit cards offer extended warranties on qualifying purchases, so make sure to check your terms.

16. Reuse and recycle.

Try getting creative with used items to save money. It’s crazy what you can do with old stuff. Plus, you might have a lot of fun.

For instance, instead of throwing old clothes away, you can reuse them as sewing fabric or cleaning rags.

17. Cut down on home expenses.

Rising home utility costs can be tackled in a variety of ways, though some may require upfront expenditures that will be repaid in the long run. Despite being more expensive, the energy consumption of LEDs is 90 percent less than incandescent bulbs and their lifespan can be up to 25 times longer.

Furthermore, low-flow showerheads and limiting the time and frequency of lawn irrigation systems reduce water use. You can also reduce your winter heating bills by lowering the thermostat and wearing sweaters and blankets more.

And, don’t forget, even if you aren’t using your printer, coffee maker, or phone charger, they are still consuming energy. So, another way to cut household expenses, is to unplug them when you aren’t using them.

18. Put your money into experiences.

Take a moment to think about the things that make you the happiest. Would you rather have material possessions that collect dust, or adventures you share with loved ones? After all, your memories will last a lifetime, not your possessions.

  • Experiences are more important than possessions. Material possessions cannot replace experiences such as traveling, trying new hobbies, and spending time with family and friends.
  • The art of travel hacking. You don’t have to break the bank to travel. Consider alternative destinations that might be less expensive, look for deals on flights and accommodations, and travel during off-seasons.
  • Get to know your own backyard. You probably don’t realize how much there is to see and do in your own city or town. Visit historical sites, explore parks and nature trails, or take advantage of free local events.

19. Each week, post three items on Craigslist, Facebook, or the newspaper.

This week, find at least three items you don’t need and list them for sale wherever you can post free ads. If you weren’t aware, it’s always free to list an item on Craigslist, Facebook, and some newspapers if it’s under a certain price.

As such, it might be a good idea to sell three items you don’t need each week. In addition to getting rid of things around the house you don’t need, you’ll make a little extra money. It is also easier to take inventory before shopping with less clutter.

20. Keep your stuff in good condition.

We often don’t think about this, but the idea is a no-brainer: take care of what you have so that it lasts longer. This will result in less money spent on buying new things.

As such, make sure you read the maintenance manual and create a maintenance checklist for any item you plan to maintain. Note important things on your calendar, like oil changes and tune-ups.

21. Understand why you overspend.

Food, shelter, and clothing are hardwired into the human brain to ensure survival. While our brains are pretty much the same as they were 10,000 years ago, these things are much more abundant for us today. We can get a rush from finding a great deal on a pair of jeans, just as when they snared rabbits for dinner.

In popular psychology, there is even a term for the feeling generated by shopping — retail therapy. Among Americans, 49% have bought something to boost their mood, and 63% of parents whose children are younger than 18, and 60% of millennials have done the same.

The occasional treat is fine as long as it doesn’t lead to overspending or prevent you from sufficiently saving for the future. If this continues to occur, you might be able to create a more balanced budget with the help of a financial advisor or credit counselor.

Living a Rich Life on a Budget

Frugality doesn’t mean depriving yourself; it means being intentional with your money. It is possible to achieve financial security while living an enriching and fulfilling life—a life filled with experiences, connections, and personal growth—without compromising your finances.


What is frugal living?

To live frugally, you must be intentional about spending your money. You shouldn’t be cheap or deprive yourself of getting the most value out of your money. Among the things that can be involved are:

  • Keeping your spending to a minimum
  • Putting needs before wants
  • Spending less on everyday expenses
  • Wisely investing your money

Isn’t frugal living the same as being cheap?

Not at all!

Being frugal means being mindful and intentional about your spending. You need to make smart choices to save money and reach your financial goals. On the other hand, being cheap means getting something for the least amount of money, regardless of quality or value.

Why be frugal?

A frugal lifestyle has many benefits. Among them are:

  • Financial security. To save money, you must pay off debt, build an emergency fund, and invest in your future.
  • Less stress. It is not uncommon for people to be stressed out financially. By being frugal, you can feel more secure and in control of your finances.
  • Freedom. The freedom to pursue your passions and live on your terms is enhanced when not burdened by debt.

Can I live frugally on one income?

Absolutely. Frugality is about making the best of what you have, regardless of your income.

How can I get started with frugal living?

To get you started, here are a few tips:

  • Track your spending. By doing this, you will be able to identify areas where you can save money.
  • Create a budget. Knowing what you need and want will help you allocate your money more effectively.
  • Cook more meals at home. It can be expensive to eat out.
  • Find free or low-cost entertainment. It is possible to have fun without spending a lot of money.
  • Challenge yourself to spend less. You can take part in many no-spend challenges.

Image Credit: cottonbro studio; Pexels

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Finance Editor and Writer at Due
Angela Ruth is a financial writer at Due. She has a passion for helping people get out of debt and live a better life.

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