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Blog » Personal Finance » 25 Things Frugal People Do (That You Aren’t Doing and Should!)

25 Things Frugal People Do (That You Aren’t Doing and Should!)

Posted on August 21st, 2023
Fact checked by John Boitnott

John Boitnott

John Boitnott graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a Masters Degree in Education. He worked for 14 years as a broadcast news writer for ABC, NBC, and CBS News where he covered finance, business and real estate. He covered financial news for SAP for four years. Boitnott is now working as a columnist for The Motley Fool where he covers personal financial and investing strategies.... Read More

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Frugality is not a dirty word, even though it’s gotten a bad rap. Why? There is a misconception that being frugal means being cheap. However, that’s not really true.

Rather, a frugal person keeps an eye on their spending and does not take on more debt than is necessary. In fact, this is a trait many millionaires possess.

According to Thomas Corley, who studied rich people’s habits for five years, wealth is built by avoiding lifestyle creep and focusing on frugality. As a result, 64% of the millionaires he interviewed described their homes as modest. All of them owned their homes, and 56% owned them for more than 20 years. Used cars are purchased by more than half, 55%.

In their spare time, they also adhere to this frugal mindset. 96% of respondents indicated they spend less than $6,000 a year on vacation, and 41% spent less than $3,000. Further, 84% said they had never gambled.

In order to develop a frugal mindset, you should ask yourself the following question: “Can I save money here if I put in a little extra effort and/or sacrifice?”. In a world where temptation is all around, having a frugal mindset can be very helpful when it comes to being an American consumer.

For help getting started, here are 25 things frugal people do that you might not, but should.

1. Admit that you need a budget.

There’s no way around this. To succeed financially, you must create and stick to a budget.

Although budgeting isn’t always fun, it is essential to managing money. When you stick to a budget, you can prioritize what matters and ruthlessly eliminate what doesn’t. However, almost 30% of Americans fail to budget because they don’t see the need for it.

While creating a budget may seem complicated, it’s actually a fairly straightforward process. Furthermore, once you have one, the bulk of the work is already done, and you can make minor adjustments as you change your spending habits or income. In order to get started, you can use websites and apps that can help you create a budget, or you can make your own spreadsheet.

If you’ve never created a budget, here’s how to get the ball rolling:

  • Find out what your net income is, which is the amount you earn less taxes.
  • List your monthly expenses, like rent or mortgage payments and entertainment.
  • Make a list of your monthly expenses and mark them as fixed or variable. Rent, utilities, transportation, insurance, food, and debt repayment are all fixed expenses. A gym membership, for example, or how much you spend on dining out, are examples of variable expenses.
  • Provide a breakdown of your monthly expenses. Check your bank and credit card statements to see what you’ve spent.
  • Identify your monthly expenses and net income. You’ll need to adjust your budget if your expenses exceed your income.

2. Search for deals and discounts.

Coupons and sales are always on the radar for frugal people. In addition to comparing prices, they shop during sales seasons and use apps that offer cashback and rewards. In fact, Warren Buffet, Lady Gaga, Suze Orman, and Carmelo Anthony have been known to use coupons.

  • Shopping for groceries? Plan your meals based on what’s on sale for the week. For even more savings, you can find coupons on your local grocer’s app for everything from frozen veggies to toilet paper.
  • Is it time to change your oil? A digital coupon can be found by doing a quick Google search.
  • Planning to stay at a hotel? Check for “stay three nights, get one free” deals.

For virtually every product and service, there are discounts and deals available – it’s just a matter of finding them and taking advantage of them.

3. Rethink your meals.

Those who plan meals in advance save time and money by making a shopping list in advance. In addition to reducing food waste, they also avoid impulsive purchases. Also, they save money by cooking more often at home.

Why is that last point important? It can be costly to eat out. According to BLS data, Americans eat out 5.9 times a week, and they spend about $3,500 every year on eating out — or just under $300 per month.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with recipes, use leftovers creatively, or pack a lunch for school or work.

4. Keep your home clean for a cheap.

There is a perception that a sanitary home must have expensive laundry soap, all-purpose spray cleaners, dishwasher detergent, foaming bathroom cleaner, fabric refresher, and other specialized toilet cleaners. It’s no surprise, then, that the average American family of four spends at least $680 per year on cleaning products.

A thrifty homemaker knows that vinegar, baking soda, borax, washing soda, and Dawn dish detergent are great household cleaners (or can be used together).

5. Don’t be fooled by “Get Rich Quick” schemes.

Repeat after me. You can’t get rich quickly. Wealthy people have realized this.

Our friend Thomas Corley found that “16 percent of the wealthy gamble on sports at least once a week versus 52 percent of the poor.” Additionally, “9 percent of the wealthy play the lottery every week versus 77 percent of the poor.”

In short, don’t waste your time trying to amass large amounts of wealth quickly. There is little to no chance of that happening. Instead, make your money work for you by investing it or paying off debt

6. Use every drop wisely.

Those who are frugal squeeze every last drop of toothpaste and face cream from their products. Additionally, they drain jars of olive oil and maple syrup. In addition, leftover bones can be simmered into stock, and Dijon mustard dregs can be used to make a vinaigrette. For greasing cake pans, they store butter wrappers.

7. Purchase used items.

A frugal person doesn’t always have to buy new items. Their buying habits often involve buying used items, which saves them a lot of money. Online marketplaces, garage sales, and thrift stores are all places where used items can be found.

In order to save money, they often check thrift stores, the ReStore, local auctions, consignment stores, and online swap sites like Craigslist and Freecycle before buying anything new. Their default action is not to buy new, but they often wait or purchase the item if they can’t find what they want.

9. Do-it-yourself (DIY).

A frugal person is usually handy and can do most things themselves. It is common for them to fix their own cars, paint their own homes, cut their own hair, or build their own furniture. As a result, they save money on labor costs.

10. Understand that time is money.

The previous tip may not apply in some cases. Sometimes it is more cost-effective to hire a service rather than do it yourself.

It is possible for people to be skilled in different areas. For example, it’s time to call the plumber if the leaky faucet has become an unstoppable waterfall.

11. Price match.

Even though most of us make big purchases once or twice a year, they can eat up a large chunk of our budget and keep us from saving. In the case of car purchases, fridge replacements, home repairs, or family vacations, shopping around will pay off in the end.

When it comes time to make a big purchase, frugal people shop around before buying the first thing that meets their immediate needs. You can often find the item you’re looking for at a substantial discount when you compare prices and options at different retailers.

Comparing prices from multiple sources can help you find coupon codes, discounts, or price matching that will reduce your purchase costs. If the deal doesn’t work for you, you can negotiate and be willing to walk away. Taking a stand can save you a lot of money.

12. Combine errands.

Combining your errands is still essential, even though gas prices have dropped. To save gas, money, and time, I try to hit all the stores in one area at once. For example, if I have to run to the grocery store, I’ll also drop off my dry cleaning or pop in for a haircut while I’m out.

13. Make friends with like-minded people.

Having an overspender in your life will regularly derail one’s savings goals faster than anything else. On the flip side, you can stay on track, share tips, and hold each other accountable by finding frugal friends.

However, you can also increase your savings capacity by utilizing your friends.

  • Take advantage of group rates. Take advantage of group rates when watching a movie with your friends or going on a vacation with your friends.
  • Shop together for groceries. Buying things in bulk usually saves you a lot of money over buying them individually.
  • Organize potlucks. Instead of going, host a dinner party where everyone brings a dish.
  • Swap possessions. Instead of buying stuff, why not swap it? Consider swapping books or clothes that you no longer use with your friends.
  • Make saving a competition. When it comes to motivating yourself to reach a goal, nothing beats competition.

14. Trade services with others.

You may have a friend who is passionate about cooking. You might be better off asking them for assistance for a small family event rather than hiring a caterer. Enlist the help of a neighbor if they know how to fix cars or do household chores.

To avoid them feeling used, do them favors as well. In return, offer to watch their kids or do something similar.

15. Engage in low- and no-cost hobbies.

It’s easy to spend an arm and leg when having fun. You can often have just as much fun without spending too much.

Frugal people have found ways to reduce entertainment costs. Here are some low- and no-cost hobbies and pastimes you can try:

  • Reading. Visit your local library and check out some books, or download books to your e-reader using your library’s free app.
  • Walking. Get your sneakers on and head outside for a walk around the block or a walk through the local park.
  • Listening to podcasts. It doesn’t matter what you’re interested in, there’s a podcast for it.
  • Meditation. For beginners, free apps and YouTube videos offer guided meditations.
  • Playing games. You can play board games and card games over and over again, even if they are expensive at first.
  • Volunteering. Taking part in a volunteer program is a great way to meet new people and help your community at the same time.

16. Invest in quality products.

A quality item won’t need to be replaced as often as a lower-quality item, so I prefer to pay a little bit more for it. In other words, I know the quality brands and prefer them when making a purchase. As a result, I use higher quality brands if I can — even if that means paying full price.

Instead of skimping on a mattress, spend a little more on a quality mattress. Choosing the right mattress not only makes you feel refreshed, but it also relieves back neck, and joint pressure.

17. Saving on utilities.

In order to reduce their utility bills, frugal people actively look for ways to cut costs. As it turns out, according to the U.S. Energy Department, the average family spends nearly $1,400 per year on utilities.

The good news? You can reduce your utility bills in a number of ways. The following are some ideas to get you started.

  • Turn off lights when not in use
  • Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and LED bulbs
  • Unplug electronics
  • Switch air filters every 60 to 90 days
  • Use a programmable thermostat
  • Upgrade old appliances to energy-efficient ones
  • Seal air leaks around windows and doors.

18. Know when to buy in bulk.

I recommend checking the unit price whenever possible. In most cases, you don’t get the best value from the smallest container.

As such, buying in bulk can be much cheaper for some items. Paper products would be a good example. In contrast, stockpiling fruits and veggies that will rot isn’t such a good idea.

19. Reuse, recycle, and upcycle.

The concept of extreme frugality can be illustrated by reusing and upcycling items.

  • Plastic resealable baggies should be washed and reused.
  • The foil from one casserole dish can be used for the next one.
  • If you need to store other foods, keep glass jelly jars and plastic yogurt containers on hand.
  • Use the cottage cheese container to grow your own herbs.

You should be aware that excessive frugalness can lead to hoarding. You should hang onto items that you will use in the future, but throw them away if you won’t use them.

20. Never buy a new car.

When you buy a used car for cash, you won’t have to make a car payment. However, keep an eye on your budget to make sure you have enough money for unexpected repairs and maintenance. Typically, used cars aren’t covered for these costs, and older vehicles can be costly.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of preference. If you had a fixed vehicle cost each month, what would you prefer, a car loan or a lease? Do you prefer occasional car repairs or more frequent ones?

It’s estimated that new car payments are $716 per month on average! Even with occasional repair costs, driving a used car could save you hundreds per month. If you must buy a new car, opt for a certified pre-owned one.

21. Travel on a budget.

Traveling frugally is one of my favorite frugal living tips. Why? While saving money, you can also see the world.

Make sure you travel during the “off-season” and opt for accommodations with a kitchen so you can prepare some of your meals. You can also save hundreds of dollars by purchasing discounted airline tickets or fares. Also, instead of purchasing souvenirs, take pictures.

22. Think about tomorrow.

“I’m not out here buying the latest cars. I don’t have the biggest house on the block. I have a moderate house on the best block,” Emmy-nominated actor Anthony Anderson told Kiplinger.com.

“My parents always stressed planning for the future,” Anderson says. “It’s not about the here and now. It’s about 30 years from now — be aggressive about funding these various accounts while I’m young, so I’ll have money coming in later in life.”

In addition to saving money, frugal people invest it well as well. Saving money for retirement, children’s education, and other future goals is a priority for them.

23. Examine your bank statements.

Is counting your calories part of your weight-loss plan? That’s a given. Meals would be portioned out and you would log your food. Although it seems like common sense, most people don’t apply it to their finances.

Keeping an eye on your spending is essential if you are trying to be more frugal. If you print out your statement, you can highlight some of the expenses that stand out.

Are there any streaming subscriptions that you haven’t used? Get rid of some of them. Do you spend too much money at Starbucks? It’s time to cut back.

A person who tries to save money and become frugal without considering their spending is like a person who wishes to lose weight without examining their diet.

24. Keep your bills to a minimum.

It is not possible to negotiate all bills, but you should try to negotiate the ones that you can. If you want your cable bill to be lowered, call your cable provider. or, better yet, switch to a free streaming service.

You should let go of the landline if you primarily use your cellphone. Get a better deal for your cellphone or car insurance by calling and seeing what plans are available. It only takes a few minutes of your time to save money by talking to a helpful agent.

25. Do not carry cash or plastic with you.

It will be harder for you to spend money on items that you do not really need if you leave your credit card at home and don’t have a large amount of cash. In fact, according to U.S. News & World Report, it’s been found that “86 percent of people who spend cash on luxuries like expensive cars, jewelry, and electronics are non-millionaires trying to act the part by purchasing luxury brands.”

Take a cue from T. Boone Pickens and follow his example. Carry only the cash you’ll need for your specific purchases on a shopping list. By doing so, you avoid adding to your debt. If you can’t pay off your credit card or make a purchase without cash, then you probably can’t afford it.

FAQs

What is frugality?

An individual who is frugal avoids unnecessary spending and is thrifty. In other words, it’s about getting the most out of your money.

Why is it beneficial to be frugal?

  • Saving money. You can save money by being frugal for your future goals, such as retirement, a house down payment, or a vacation.
  • Reducing debt. You can pay off debt faster by being frugal.
  • Improving your financial security. Building your financial security and protecting yourself from unexpected expenses can be done through frugality.
  • Living a more sustainable lifestyle. Living frugally and reusing more can reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Enjoying life more. You don’t have to live a frugal life to be bored or restricted. It is possible to enjoy life and have fun without breaking the bank if you are mindful of your spending.

What are some tips for being frugal?

To be frugal, follow these tips:

  • Create a budget and stick to it. Being frugal begins with this tip. If you track your spending, you will be able to see where your money is going and make adjustments that will result in greater savings.
  • Shop around for the best deals. Buy what you need from the first store you see, but don’t just go to the first one you see. Ensure you compare prices and get the best deal by taking the time to do so.
  • Buy used instead of new. When it comes to used goods, there are many great deals to be found. Online marketplaces, thrift stores, and garage sales offer a variety of used clothes, furniture, and electronics.
  • Make your own stuff. Consider making clothes, food, and household items yourself if you can. In addition to saving you money, this is also a lot of fun.
  • Repurpose and recycle. Keep things instead of throwing them away. Use old items again and recycle them. In addition to being good for the environment, this is also cost-effective.
  • Be patient. People who are frugal don’t expect to get everything they want immediately. It’s not a problem for them to save up for something they really want, and they are willing to wait for a good deal.

What are the disadvantages of being frugal?

Frugality has a few potential drawbacks, including:

  • You may have to spend a lot of time on it. Comparing prices and tracking your spending can take a lot of time.
  • It has the potential to be restrictive. It is possible to lose out on things you enjoy if you’re too frugal.
  • You may find it frustrating. Being frugal isn’t for everyone, and not seeing results can be frustrating.

How can I be frugal without being cheap?

You don’t have to be cheap to be frugal. Your quality of life and happiness can be preserved without sacrificing frugal living. Listed below are a few tips:

  • Focus on the big picture. Don’t worry about the little things. Save money on items like housing, transportation, and food that require a lot of expenditures.
  • Don’t be afraid to splurge on things you love. It’s okay to spend money on something you really want if it’s something you really want. Make sure you don’t spend too much on unnecessary items.
  • Find ways to save money that are fun. There are many fun and easy ways to save money. Join a couponing club with your friends or shop for clothes at thrift stores.
John Rampton

John Rampton

John Rampton is an entrepreneur and connector. When he was 23 years old, while attending the University of Utah, he was hurt in a construction accident. His leg was snapped in half. He was told by 13 doctors he would never walk again. Over the next 12 months, he had several surgeries, stem cell injections and learned how to walk again. During this time, he studied and mastered how to make money work for you, not against you. He has since taught thousands through books, courses and written over 5000 articles online about finance, entrepreneurship and productivity. He has been recognized as the Top Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine and Finance Expert by Time. He is the Founder and CEO of Due.

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