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Times are hard right now, and everyone is looking for ways to save money.
With the price of even basic necessities going through the roof, more people than ever are adopting a frugal lifestyle by both choice and necessity.
But what is frugal living, anyway?
Is it just about saving money? Is it about spending less money? Is it about modifying your lifestyle so you don’t spend too much money?
Although each question sounds like variations of the same thing to someone already on a frugal living journey, they are very different.
Here are the best frugal living tips to help you and your family find new ways to save money and achieve financial freedom.
Frugal Living Tips To Help You Reach Financial Freedom
What is Frugal Living?
Before we dive in, let’s clarify what frugal living is not.
The goals of a frugal life do not include:
- Doing without basic necessities and pleasures like utilities, a vehicle, good food, entertainment, etc.
- Accepting poor quality as good enough
- Skimping on health care or medication
- Ignoring birthdays, holidays, and special occasions
- Being bored or miserable
On the contrary, living a frugal lifestyle is all about being happy and healthy while looking for ways to avoid wasting money.
At its simplest, frugal living is choosing to spend money more wisely so you can meet your obligations and realize your financial goals.
This includes having more money in savings, living debt-free, eliminating credit card debt, and achieving true financial freedom.
#1. Focus on Quality Over Quantity
When embracing frugal living, focusing on quality over quantity is essential.
Too often, we avoid spending money on higher priced items, thinking that purchasing the lowest-cost product is the best move for our money.
This can work out well for single-use items, but for things we use repeatedly, this approach can cost us more money in the long run.
This is because the lower price usually means a lower quality.
So, while you save money upfront, you will have to repurchase the item more often, negating the savings.
Spending more money when the goal is to save money sounds counterintuitive, but you have to shift your mindset to consider things over a longer period rather than just in the moment.
#2. Prioritize Value Over Price
Being frugal might lead you to search for the cheapest deals to save money, but it’s important to recognize that value is more significant than price.
Aiming for value means looking for items that efficiently serve their purpose, have a longer lifespan, and improve your lifestyle without costing too much.
Consider the long-term benefits when making purchases.
For instance, buying high-quality shoes might cost more upfront, but these durable shoes will last longer and eliminate the need for frequent replacements.
As a result, you’ll save money in the big picture.
Also, it’s essential to build the habit of comparison shopping.
Don’t hesitate to research products and compare prices across different stores.
By doing so, you’ll choose the best-value products on the market, resulting in significant savings.
To stay up-to-date on the latest deals, keep an eye on sales, use price alerts, and follow your favorite stores on social media.
Incorporate these value prioritization habits into your daily life, and you’ll gradually build a more frugal lifestyle that helps you achieve your savings goals.
Each small step will contribute to a more financially secure and fulfilling life.
#3. Understand Wants vs. Needs
A key aspect of frugal living is that you must identify your wants from your needs.
This distinction helps you make smart choices with your money and prioritize your spending accordingly.
When planning your spending, focus on allocating money for “needs” first.
These items, such as housing, transportation, and food, are vital for your day-to-day living.
Doing this ensures you meet your basic needs before you spend money on non-essential items.
Conversely, wants refer to items that make life more enjoyable but aren’t necessary for survival.
This might include expensive clothes, entertainment, or dining out at fancy restaurants.
It’s important to recognize that wants can lead to lifestyle creep, which is when your standard of living gradually increases as your income rises, making it harder to save money and reach your goals.
To avoid falling into lifestyle creep, establish clear financial goals and prioritize spending to align with those goals.
For example, if you aim to pay off debt or save for a big purchase, you may need to reduce dining out or limit your shopping trips for non-essential items.
You can develop a more sustainable and fulfilling financial plan by understanding the difference between wants and needs.
With this mindset, you can maintain a frugal lifestyle, which will ultimately bring you closer to your long-term financial aspirations.
#4. Prioritize Your Values
One of the most powerful frugal living tips is to take the time to understand what you value.
Most people don’t do this and end up buying things to impress people or buy something, thinking it will bring them happiness.
When it doesn’t, they spend more money trying to find happiness.
You are better off taking the time to understand what makes you happy.
For example, it could be traveling.
In this case, you can buy an older used car and save the money for vacations.
You can forego the designer clothes and all the other stuff you buy and put it all towards trips.
In the end, you might be able to take 2-3 trips annually, increasing your happiness.
So, take the time to understand your values and adjust your spending accordingly.
#5. Use a Budget to Control Spending
Creating a budget is a crucial step in managing your finances.
Setting spending limits and tracking expenses can help you find ways to save money and achieve financial goals.
First, take a thorough look at your income and expenses.
Identify monthly bills such as utilities, rent, and insurance, and set up a list of spending categories.
Categories can include groceries, transportation, entertainment, etc.
Also, prepare for unexpected events by remembering to allocate money for emergencies and savings.
Once your categories are in place, set realistic spending limits for each.
This will help you become more conscious of your day-to-day expenses and find areas where you could cut back.
For example, you might realize that frequent dining out drains your budget and decide to cook more meals at home.
Utilize budgeting tools like spreadsheets or apps to keep track of your expenses and monitor your progress monthly.
This will help you identify any recurring issues and adjust your budget accordingly.
If you are unsure of the type of budget you should have, here are some of the best options available.
|How it Works
|Who it’s Best For
|Create 3 buckets for your income: 50% for needs, 30% for wants, and 20% for savings
|People who want more flexibility in a monthly budget
|Pay with cash and use envelopes to allocate a specific amount to spend in each category or envelope each month
|People looking to spend less money overall
|Zero Based Budgeting
|Assign every dollar you earn to a budget category
|People looking for a more detailed budget
|Variable Income Budgeting
|A budget that changes month to month based on your income
|People who do not get paid the same amount every month
Once you decide on a budget, ensure you’re consistently reviewing and updating your financial plan, as your financial situation may change over time.
To achieve your financial goals, like paying off debt or building your savings, prioritize them in your budget.
Allocate a specific amount of money for each goal and consider increasing the allocated funds as you successfully reduce other expenses.
Implementing a budget and including various frugal living tips will gradually help you pay off debt, grow your savings, and achieve overall financial stability.
#6. Create Boundaries to Curb Spending
Learning to create boundaries for your spending is crucial for maintaining a frugal lifestyle.
By setting limits and making conscious decisions, you’ll be better equipped to reach financial independence and manage your money wisely.
For example, consider shopping with a list or waiting 24 hours after placing an item in your online shopping cart before you buy.
Unsubscribing from emails and watching less television are other options.
The goal is about living frugally, not dreading the life you are living, so make sure any boundary you create helps you reach your financial goals.
#7. Limit the Use of Credit
Using credit cards to make purchases can be tempting, but it’s important to remember that too much spending can lead to debt and negatively impact one’s financial well-being.
It’s best to limit your use of credit where possible.
First, be cautious when it comes to credit card rewards.
Although earning points and rewards can seem appealing, they can also encourage overspending.
To prevent getting into credit card debt, only chase rewards for purchases you would’ve made anyway.
Create a budget and stick to it so you don’t fall into the trap of spending more to earn rewards.
Next, maintain a healthy credit score by paying your bills on time and not maxing out your credit card limits.
This helps you avoid late fees, paying interest, and high interest rates that can accumulate quickly, and it also increases your financial stability in the long run.
A good credit score can lead to better loan terms and lower interest rates when you need credit.
To stay out of debt, habitually pay your credit card bills in full each month.
If you can’t pay the total amount, make the minimum payment on time to avoid late fees and keep your credit score intact.
Most importantly, don’t rely on credit cards for everyday expenses; use cash or a debit card wherever possible.
#8. Make Decluttering a Regular Habit
Over time, the stuff we buy tends to pile up.
Instead of cleaning out our houses, many of us store the stuff in the attic, basement, or garage.
In some cases, we rent storage facilities.
A wiser choice is to pick a weekend twice a year, go through all your stuff, and get rid of everything you don’t use or no longer want.
You can decide whether to toss, donate, or sell your items, but the ultimate goal is to clean out your house.
And here is why this is a cor frugal living tip.
When you go through your stuff, you will see how much money you waste on things you rarely use.
This will help you when you are out shopping, as you will start to question before you buy.
#9. Be a Smart Shopper
When it comes to being a savvy shopper, there are many great tips.
Here are some of the best ones.
- Use Lists: A well-planned grocery list can help you stick to your budget and avoid impulse purchases. Before shopping, take some time to create a list of what you need. Group items by category so you know exactly where to look for them in the store. This helps reduce spending and saves time while shopping.
- Coupons and Discounts: Don’t miss out on potential savings by using coupons and discount codes. You can find them in newspapers, magazines, and online. Apply these savings to your online and in-store shopping to reduce overall spending.
- Price Matching: Many retailers offer price matching on identical products. If you find a lower price at a competing store or online (e.g., on Amazon), ask the retailer to honor that price. This can help you save money without having to visit multiple stores.
- Price Adjusting: Keep an eye on sales and price drops after purchasing. Many stores will offer a price adjustment if the item you bought goes on sale within a specific timeframe, such as 30 days. To take advantage of this, keep your receipts and track any price changes on recently purchased items.
- Rain Checks: If a sale item is out of stock, ask for a rain check. This allows you to purchase the item later at the sale price once it becomes available. This way, you won’t miss out on the sale and can still enjoy the savings.
- Product Warranties: Consider product warranties, especially when purchasing appliances and electronics. A good warranty can save you money on repairs and replacements. Before buying, compare warranty coverage among different retailers and choose the one that offers the best protection for your investment.
By implementing these frugal living tips in your shopping routine, you can optimize your budget, make your money go further, and spend smarter on the things that truly matter to you.
#10. Review Your Spending Each Year
It’s essential to consistently evaluate your spending to stay on track with your budgeting and financial success.
Reviewing your expenses annually will help you make necessary changes to improve your financial health.
Here are some valuable sub-sections to better guide your spending review process.
Don’t be afraid to examine your bills and contact service providers for potential discounts or better rates.
For example, look closer at your phone bill, cable, and other utilities.
Negotiating for lower rates or finding promotions can lead to significant savings.
If you don’t want to do the negotiating yourself, looking to apps like BillTrim who will do it for you.
Assess your subscriptions and memberships, like Amazon Prime or your cell phone plan, to determine whether any downgrades are possible.
Downgrading to a more basic package can save you money without requiring you to sacrifice too much of the service or product you enjoy.
If you cannot negotiate a lower price or downgrade, research competitors and consider switching.
Most companies offer the most savings to new customers.
And here is a hack from one frugal person to another: Make it a point to use the competition to your advantage.
If you can’t get a better price, mention how you will switch because they offer you a better deal.
Many times, this is enough to get a discount.
Finally, identify which expenses are non-essential and can be eliminated.
Some examples include quitting smoking or investing in a water filter instead of buying bottled water.
Maybe you signed up for a service but no longer use it, which makes sense to cancel.
#11. Fix Before Buying
In today’s consumer-driven society, replacing items as soon as they show signs of wear or damage can be tempting.
However, living frugally often means learning to repair items before considering buying something new.
This saves you money and fosters a sense of accomplishment and self-reliance.
When you encounter a problem with an item in your home, consider if it’s something you can tackle on your own.
Many resources are available online, and you can often find detailed guides, tutorials, and even videos to help you with various DIY projects.
Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and tap into your inner handyman to fix common household issues.
For example, research the issue and possible solutions if your favorite appliance malfunctions.
A simple fix could often extend its life and save you from purchasing a replacement.
On the other hand, if you feel the project might be more complex or dangerous, consider hiring a local handyman to handle the task for you.
They often charge reasonable rates for their services, and a small repair investment can still be cheaper than a brand-new item.
Remember that frugal living doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality.
By adopting a “fix before buying” mindset, you can maintain the things you own while saving money and reducing waste.
#12. Find Free Before Buying
As someone striving to live frugally, it’s essential to think outside the box when spending money.
If you need something, search local marketplaces, including Freecycle, to see if you can get it for free.
Alternatively, reach out to family, friends, or neighbors if you need someone for one time.
For example, maybe you need to trim back a hedge.
Instead of buying a hedge trimmer, see if you can borrow one.
If all else fails, look into renting the item.
This option is more cost-effective than buying brand new.
#13. Buy Used Before New
Finally, if you can’t get the item for free, consider buying a used one.
One of the best frugal living tips I can offer is to use Facebook Marketplace for furniture.
With some persistence, you can save thousands on various pieces of furniture.
For example, we bought a sofa and a loveseat for $1,000 that was six months old and in perfect condition.
It would have cost us over $2,500 had we purchased it new.
The more you can incorporate these frugal tips into your everyday life, the more money you will save.
24 Additional Frugal Living Tips To Help You Save Money
In addition to the core frugal tips listed above, there are other things you can do to stretch your money further.
With the extra money you save, you can reinvest it into income-generating sources to grow your wealth.
#14. Learn How To Meal Prep
Historically, the average family spends 10%-15% of their disposable income on food, so watching what you spend at the grocery store is a great way to save money.
If you plan a week’s or a month’s worth of meals, you can use what’s on hand, take advantage of sales, cook in bulk, only buy what you need, reduce waste, and save time and money.
Stock up on containers to store your meals in, and label them with the date and contents.
As you stock your freezer, put the newest meals in the back and the oldest up front.
#15. Take Advantage Of Apps
There are many apps out there to help you save money. Here are a few to consider:
- Fetch Rewards
- Receipt Hog
This is just a small sample. There are many more.
Be sure to download the app for your favorite grocery store, as many offer digital coupons to help you save.
#16. Use Shopping Portals When Shopping Online
Many people shop online online to save time and money.
Swagbucks and Rakuten offer cash back on your purchases, reducing your price.
You can even apply coupons to your order to save more.
With Honey, this extension will search the web for the best coupon code and automatically apply it to your order.
#17. Practice Cooking Cheap Meals
Rice, beans, vegetables, and noodles are all filling and will help you stretch your meat budget.
One-pot casseroles, soups, and stews will help you stretch it even further.
#18. Don’t Be Afraid Of Leftovers
There is nothing wrong with putting tonight’s leftover dinner into plastic containers and repurposing it for tomorrow’s lunches.
You can save hundreds of dollars every month by bringing your own lunch to work instead of eating out.
#19. Shop Sales
All grocery stores follow a sales schedule.
If you look at the sales fliers long enough, you can spot the pattern of when things go on sale and when they offer the best prices.
Once you know this, you can stock up, saving you the most money possible.
#20. Shop Around For Organic Food
In the past, you had to pay premium prices for organic food.
But today, more and more grocery stores sell organic and many private labels sell organic food too.
If you take the time to shop around, you can find great deals on organic groceries and not break your food budget.
#21. Skip The Pre-Package Section
Many supermarkets now offer pre-cut fresh fruits and vegetables.
While buying this will save you time, it won’t save money.
It will cost you a lot more money.
A whole pineapple sells for $2.99, whereas a pre-sliced quarter of a pineapple costs $4.99.
#22. Change Your Coffee Habit
Quit buying expensive drive-through coffee.
That daily $4-$5 cup costs thousands of dollars per year.
You can make your own coffee for pennies per cup.
If you don’t want to brew your own coffee, consider buying coffee from somewhere less expensive.
Or think outside the box for ways to lower the cost.
Maybe ask for gift cards to your favorite shop for your birthday or holidays.
Join their rewards program and earn free coffee.
There are many ways to lower this expense without giving up coffee completely.
#23. Buy Bulk
Some things are better to buy in large quantities.
While you don’t want to buy perishable items in bulk, buying things like toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, and the like can save you hundreds of dollars compared to purchasing these items at the grocery store.
#24. Stop Eating Out
It is much more expensive to dine out than to cook a meal at home, and this cost doesn’t consider any tips you leave your server.
Work to eat out less often or find cheap restaurants with reasonable prices.
#25. Invest in Ceiling Fans
A ceiling fan makes a room feel up to 8 degrees cooler.
In the winter, you can switch the fan’s rotation to help move air and keep your house warmer.
Even better, a ceiling fan uses the same energy as a regular 100-watt light bulb.
Finally, shut windows, curtains, and blinds. If you keep these closed during the hottest part of the day and only open them at night, you can reduce cooling costs by as much as 30%.
#26. Update and Set Your Thermostat
If you have an older thermostat, consider purchasing a programmable one.
These allow you to control when you heat and cool your house, saving you money.
From there, set your thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter and 74 in the summer.
This will tremendously impact your monthly bill, and if you use ceiling fans, you won’t notice the temperature difference.
#27. Pay for an Energy Audit
A smart way to lower your electric bill is to get an energy audit.
Most electric suppliers offer this service for a small fee.
A tech will perform various tests to determine the best ways for you to save more on your electric costs.
Many will even provide coupons for LED bulbs and offer recommended contractors for larger jobs.
#28. Reach Out to Electric Suppliers for Savings
One of the most overlooked frugal living tips is lowering your electric bill if you live in a state that deregulates it.
If you are lucky enough to live in one of these states, you can shop around for better prices than your local utility charges.
I’ve saved up to 50% in some cases. Most times, I save around 25%.
#29. Additional Home Energy Savings Ideas
- Eliminating drafts around your windows and doors can reduce energy costs by up to 20%.
- Close the air vents in any unused rooms. You don’t want to pay to heat and cool a room that no one even goes in.
- Switch to more energy-efficient and cooler LED light bulbs.
- Try to cook and do laundry in the evening to cut down on cooling costs.
- According to the Department of Energy, hot water usage accounts for up to 18% of your power bill. Lowering the water temperature can save over $400 per year.
- The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that level-flow toilets can cut water usage by up to 60%. That equates to at least 13,000 gallons of water per year, resulting in an annual savings of $140 and $2,900 over the life of the toilet.
#30. Shop For Clothes at Season End
To save the most money on clothing, chop at the end of the season.
When you shop clearance racks, you will find a large selection of items at a fraction of the cost.
In some cases, you can save up to 80%!
And if the store doesn’t have your size in stock, see if it is available online.
#31. Save Money on Gas
As painful as it is to visit the gas pump, the good news is there are simple things you can do to lower the price you pay.
One of the best ways to save gas is to keep your car in good working order.
Change the fluids regularly, perform the necessary services and maintenance, and keep your tires properly inflated.
Underinflated tires can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 10%, especially at lower speeds.
From there, try to drive at a constant speed as much as possible.
When you do have to brake, try to play ahead and coast to a stop. When accelerating, do so slowly instead of mashing the gas pedal to the floor.
If idling for over five minutes, turn your car off to preserve fuel.
While finding the cheapest gas is a goal, don’t go out of your way to save a few cents per gallon, as it usually won’t be worth it.
Finally, look into using Upside.
It’s an app that gives you a discount on every gallon of gas you buy.
#32. Shop Insurance Coverage
One way to save money is to shop for insurance coverage.
Many people are finding their insurance bills have skyrocketed in price.
The best way to fight back is to shop around.
This involves getting free quotes from various insurance agents and finding the best price for the same coverage.
In the past, this process took a lot of time.
But with artificial intelligence, you can do it in minutes.
The best tool I’ve found is Insurify.
You can compare multiple quotes and switch in a few minutes.
Many users report saving $500 a year or more.
#33. Look Into Free Streaming Apps
The idea of streaming was to bring down the cost of watching TV.
But with so many streaming options and constant price increases, the savings are quickly eroding.
Many people don’t know they can save money by watching free streaming apps.
Pluto TV and Tubi are two examples that offer more than enough shows and movies at no cost.
#34. Stay In
While it is customary to go out for entertainment, there are endless free options at home.
Have a board game night, play charades, and movie night are just a few examples.
Invite friends for a potluck dinner if board games aren’t your thing.
#35. Find Free Community Events
If you must go out, find free fun things or cheap entertainment in your area, like parks, nature trails, museums, public pools, skating rinks, etc.
Also, don’t forget to take advantage of any fairs, festivals, or cultural events that take place locally.
Most of these don’t cost money unless you are making a purchase.
#36. Attend Local Sporting Events
One often overlooked frugal tip that can save you money on entertainment is local school sporting events.
Attending Little League baseball games or high school football games is a great way to have family fun and build traditions without spending a lot of money.
#37. Have Multiple Bank Accounts
Most people have a single checking account and one account for savings.
But a clever, frugal living tip is to have multiple accounts.
One checking account can be for fixed monthly payments, such as your mortgage, cable, loan payments, etc.; the other can be for variable expenses.
Then, you can have various accounts for savings goals, like an emergency fund, a vacation fund, etc.
You might even consider having accounts for insurance payments and other bills that occur once or twice a year.
Having Financial Goals Helps You Live Frugally
Frugal living is not a goal in and of itself.
Instead, when you learn to stop spending so much money, you will be well on your way to achieving the financial success you have always wanted.
In other words, sticking to a frugal living budget is not a chore or a burden.
It is an investment in your personal finance future.
Having the discipline to spend less money without sacrificing your quality of life is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your family, your future, and your bank account.
When it comes to managing your money, some of the best frugal living tips include:
- Install money-saving apps on your phone and computer or laptop. These can help you save hundreds of dollars when shopping online by automatically finding the best deals and applying valid coupons or discount codes.
- It does not matter if you buy something mundane like toilet paper or paper towels or shop online for better home and auto insurance rates; using the right apps and browser extensions can save you money.
- Learn to embrace free entertainment. There are many free things you can do to have a great time. Too many of us have become conditioned to think we need to pay to enjoy life. But many people who live frugal lives will tell you how much happier they are doing free stuff.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of frugal living?
Frugal living does not mean that you cannot spend money.
It means that when you spend money, you do so wisely, with your best financial goals in mind.
It provides the money and flexibility you need to realize your dreams and cope with life’s unexpected “what-if” moments.
How do I start living frugally?
Living frugally is all about being mindful of your expenses and finding ways to save money.
One way to start is to create a budget and stick to it.
This means tracking your spending and finding ways to reduce unnecessary expenses.
Another way is to look for deals and discounts on what you need to buy.
This could mean shopping at thrift stores or buying generic brands instead of name brands.
Finally, make it a point to understand what you value and focus on spending money in these areas of your life while cutting back on others.
Ultimately, living a frugal life is about making intentional choices that help you save money and live within your means.
How can I save money without being miserable?
Saving money can often feel like a never-ending battle between your wallet and happiness.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Making small changes to your spending habits can make a big difference in your savings account without sacrificing the things that bring you joy.
Start by setting a budget and tracking your expenses to see where your money goes.
Then, look for areas where you can cut back without feeling deprived, like making coffee at home or finding free activities with friends.
Remember, saving money should never make you miserable.
It should empower you to live the life you want without breaking the bank.
Whether you are taking the first steps on your frugal journey, looking to save extra money by observing a “No Spend Month,” or merely curious about saving money, we hope that these frugal living tips help you save so much that you adopt frugal living as a way of life.
If you are creative, there are hundreds of small steps you can take to reign in your spending habits and change your financial lifestyle.
If you take enough of these small steps, they can take you a long way on your journey to frugal living.
I have over 15 years experience in the financial services industry and 20 years investing in the stock market. I have both my undergrad and graduate degrees in Finance, and am FINRA Series 65 licensed and have a Certificate in Financial Planning.
Visit my About Me page to learn more about me and why I am your trusted personal finance expert.