What comes to your mind when your friend says s/he is a frugal consumer? Probably, like many others, you think that they buy cheap and low-quality things or they will starve to death to avoid spending. Right? Wrong!
A frugal lifestyle isn’t about all these negative misconceptions you hear. Those who throw them around do so without a lack of understanding of what it means to set financial priorities.
What Does Thrifty Living Mean?
Frugal living is all about opportunity costs and setting a priority spending plan. That means being very intentional with what you spend your money on. Instead of sacrificing things you love, you prioritize them to reach your financial goals faster.
It means making sacrifices and tradeoffs. You intentionally decide to drastically cut expenses on things that are of less priority to you and don’t help with your financial planning process. Instead, put that money toward areas that propel you to financial freedom.
Frugal living is what makes a small business owner making $60,000 per year retire with six figures in savings vs. a physician with an annual salary of $130,000 near retirement in debt.
If you decide to cut expenses on clothing and restaurant meals so that you can save for your dream car, vacation, or college, you aren’t penny-pinching or cheap. Instead, you are a savvy consumer who knows exactly what they want to achieve with their money.
Use this article to learn some frugal living tips with a big impact. The tips will help cut expenses in areas that don’t matter much and put money in areas that add value to your life.
What’s the Difference Between Cheap and Frugal?
Frugal living shouldn’t be confused with going cheap. Cheap means sacrificing quality for low-price. For example, you go to the store and buy cheap items without thinking about their quality. That means you can buy near-rotten vegetables cheaply because fresh ones are pricier.
Frugality means making a deliberate decision to spend less money on some areas while spending more money on things that matter to you. For example, you decide to spend less on clothes and restaurant meals so that you can build a solid emergency fund or save money for a house on a low income.
Quality, longevity, and durability are essential to a frugal consumer.
Is Frugal Living Worth it?
Absolutely! Frugal living is all about taking charge of your finances and reduce estate planning. Instead of letting money run your life, you use the money to run your life and achieve your financial goals. In the final analysis, frugal consumers enjoy a more fulfilled and less stressful life than individuals who assume an expensive and flashy lifestyle.
Juggling with minimal clothes and two or three pairs of discount shoes while having enough money saved to cover your living expenses for one year is more fulfilling. It’s less stressful than having a wardrobe full of flashy designer shoes with no emergency funds. Almost 50% of American’s don’t have emergency savings.
Here’s why frugal living is worth it:
- Frugal living helps you achieve your career and financial dreams faster by slowing funding it.
- If you live on less money, you won’t be guilty of a wasteful lifestyle. It’s important to track all your spending habits.
- Frugality helps master your life and develop a deep sense of self-control.
- Frugal living helps kick financial stress out of your life. You’ll live a peaceful, stress-free life knowing that you have savings, emergency funds, and investments to retire early.
- You can only achieve financial freedom when you are frugal.
- Thrifty living ideas teach you a life of value. You come to know and appreciate the value of everything. You can avoid wasting things you have and maximize their value.
- When you lead a frugal life, you end up wiser and more knowledgeable. You’ll finally unlock the real joy of life instead of living in the bliss of the moment.
Top Frugal Living Tips
When you are getting started, frugal living may seem tedious and impossible, especially when coming from a flashy lifestyle. To get your priorities right with being frugal, it’s important to understand that frugality isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy.
Some things will be easier to give up than others. For example, you may be good at cooking but like buying trendy clothes. In this case, it’s easier to give up eating out at restaurants and cook your frugal meals at home while keeping your love for fashion.
Start easy with areas you can give up. You don’t need to start with extreme ways to save money. Try different frugal living tips and see how they’ll work out. After you have mastered a frugal living tip, continue adding new ones one by one. You’ll slowly learn how to live frugally and organize your finances.
Trying to cut back on everything at the same time will burn you out and backfire. Don’t start with extreme frugality tips. Instead, set small and achievable goals to change your spending habits slowly.
All told, approach thrifty living with an open mind. You don’t have to master all the frugal living tips out there.
Here are 74 frugal living tips that will help you learn how to live on less money. Let’s dive right in!
1. Learn How to Start Money Budgeting
Create and stick to a budget. It’s easier said than done. Per Gallup, only 30% of Americans keep a detailed household budget. Trying to keep tabs on every dollar spent makes budgeting pointless to most people. Instead, you need to automate your finances and give yourself an allowance to avoid frugal burnout in the budgeting process.
Here’s a simple way to learn how to budget money:
- Know your monthly expenses: Total all your monthly expenses, including your savings.
- Have a spending allowance: Subtract your expenses and savings from your take-home pay. What remains is your spending allowance.
- Automate your budget: Tracking your spending manually is pointless. Put your finances on autopilot with financial apps like Mint, Personal Capital, and You Need A Budget (YNAB). Automate your bills and savings account, so you never see the money. Then use the best expense app to track how you’re spending your allowance.
2. Meal Plan
It’s a fancy way to say “cook at home.” Eating out at restaurants isn’t cheap. Instead, plan upfront what you’ll eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for the whole week. Then set a day to go frugal grocery shopping and buy the food you need for the whole week in bulk at a discount or what’s on sale. For instance, there are many places to buy discount meat and other items to save a few bucks.
Then use frugal recipes when preparing your meals to make sure that you aren’t wasting any food. You’ll be surprised how quickly that $10 to $20 a day can quickly add up and make a difference in your financial goals.
3. Batch Cooking
The fact is, summoning the energy to prepare dinner after a tiresome work schedule can be a hassle. Throw in fear of cooking and laziness into the mix, making it easy to find a nearby fast food place.
Reasons make home-cooked meals vs. fast food include:
- Healthier – Restaurant meals typically contain higher amounts of saturated fat, sodium, and total fat
- Reconnect – Making new recipes as a family is an activity and helps every reconnect during the week
- Control calorie intake – Restaurant calories and portions are less predictable vs. measuring and weighing portions for a home-cooked meal
- Save money – The average cost of eating out is over $20, versus the cost of a home-cooked meal of less than $5.
- Save time – Cooking at home is quicker than driving to a restaurant, waiting to be seated, paying the bill, then driving back home.
- Prevent allegoric reactions – You can prevent cross-contamination by cooking food in your own kitchen vs. trusting a restaurant to be cautious and follow allergy protocols.
That isn’t good for your pocket and waistline.
Have a weekly food budget and cook in bulk when you have time, such as Sunday afternoon or night. To keep up with your frugal food budget, freeze several portions and keep them for the week. After work, you’ll only need to heat them and eat. That way, you won’t need to cook every day. You’ll save time and save money on frugal dinners.
4. Eat Leftovers
Don’t waste food. It may seem like an extreme frugality tip, but there’s a lot of food wastage in America. Per the 2016 Guardian report, half of the American produce ends up in the trash, equivalent to $160 billion per year. Surprisingly, leftovers can last 3-5 days if properly refrigerated and stored in airtight containers. The fact is, eating leftovers can help you cut down on food waste and save money on groceries.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to store cooked food in the fridge:
- Cool food: Use shallow pans to cool warm food before storing
- Airtight container: Package the food in airtight containers and refrigerate at a temperature of 36-38 degrees
- Don’t overpack the fridge: Don’t congest your refrigerator to allow free air circulation around the food. It helps maintain the right temperature.
- Safely reheat leftovers: Reheat the food with an internal temperature of at least 75 degrees. Don’t use slow cookers when reheating leftover food. Instead, reheat it on the stove, in the oven, or the microwave.
5. Frugal Meal ideas
You can avoid overspending on food with these frugal meal ideas:
- Buy food to make at home. It’s a good way to avoid expensive dinners at fast food joints and restaurants.
- Look in the back of your pantry, cabinets, fridge, and freezer for dinner ideas. You can save one trip per month if you resort to using every ingredient in the back of your kitchen cabinet.
- Don’t let food expire. Package it in airtight containers and eat instead of throwing it away.
- Keep expiring food toward the front of the fridge and in front of your cabinet shelves.
- Prepare frugal dinners with frugal recipes to avoid unnecessary waste of food and ingredients.
6. Grocery Store Coupons
Grocery store coupons can make a difference in a frugal family. Groceries can still be expensive even if you buy food in bulk. If your grocery bill is going up in price, take advantage of paper and digital grocery coupons from your favorite stores to save money every week.
Using grocery coupons doesn’t mean you are cheap. It’s a weekly frugal life hack for getting the best value for your money. Check our list of the Best online coupon sites to find legit store coups.
7. Sell Unwanted Items
How much clutter do you have in your house? These are things you have amassed over the years, like furniture, kids’ stuff, clothes, or antiques left behind by your grandparents that you no longer use or need.
Whatever you have, downsizing is one of the best frugal living hacks to try. Sell unwanted things online or locally for cash. Sell on Poshmark fast, sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, OfferUp.
Things to sell from your home to make money include Sell Vinyl records or sell old antiques for cash. If you have old furniture, find stores that buy used furniture for cash and make money fast.
Read our article on 37+ Easiest Things to Flip for Profit – Resell For Fast Money to discover items that you can resell to declutter your house. After decluttering, you may even realize you don’t need such a big house in the first place. Downsizing to a smaller home can save money on taxes and utilities.
8. Buy Used Stuff From Consignment Store
Buying used stuff is one of the best frugal living tips. It’s also a trait of all self-made millionaires. Buying slightly used secondhand items at a great price is a great way to save money.
Don’t allow the temporary excitement of owning something new to offset the substantial savings you can realize. In most cases, you cannot tell the difference between a refurbished Apple laptop vs. a new one; they both come with a manufacturer warranty. I buy new exercise shorts on eBay with the tags on the clothing for 20-50% less.
Find the best consignment shops nearby or online, or sites like eBay to find like-new stuff at a discount.
I always buy a pre-owned certified car to save money. Most cars I buy have around 30,000 miles, and I tend to get a 30-40% discount on the used car.
See our cheat sheet tips guide for help buying a car from a dealer.
9. Return Unwanted Items Immediately
With the advent of online shopping, merchants can ship to you clothes that don’t fit, are the wrong size, or lower-quality than advertised. Read the return policy for all online purchases before purchasing your stuff. How long is the return policy at each retail store? Will you get cash back, chargeback, or store credit? Is there a restocking fee for returning unwanted items?
It also applies to brick and mortar retail stores because people cannot try on clothes during the pandemic.
Once you understand the return policy, make sure you save all your receipts.
Tips on how to save a receipt for store returns:
- Keep in-store bag – I like keeping my receipt in the same bag as my purchase. I come home, try it on, and know the receipt and the return item are together.
- Folder – Setup a folder in your laundry room or office where you put receipts for everything. This way, they’re all kept together.
- Take a picture – It’s never a bad idea to take a picture of the receipt with your phone. Make sure to photograph the top of the receipt with the transaction information and the bottom with the total and any QR code or barcodes. Ideally, you want to photograph the whole receipt with one photo.
Immediately return or ship back unwanted items to get your money back. You’ll get your money back faster if you take it back to a local store vs. shipping. In either case, store refunds on a credit card take about seven days to process and show on your statement.
You can also return spoiled food items to grocery stores as long as they aren’t perishables. It’s not just part of frugal living but also ensuring that you don’t end up with unwanted stuff in your house.
Pro Tip: How to buy a good watermelon at the grocery store? Have someone in the produce section cut the watermelon in half and wrap it in plastic before you leave the store. Sometimes the grocery store employee hesitates but insists or has a manager cut it before paying for it.
10. Upcycle Clothes
Upcycle clothes to wear or sell online. Instead of buying new clothes all the time, you can make new designs and styles out of old ones. It may be your own clothes or upgrades from one of your family members.
Repurpose clothing ideas include:
- Tweak them into a new design
- Add some decorations
- Create exact fits from larger sizes
- Tie-dye a t-shirt
- Take a long dress and make a mini skirt
- Make a quilt from clothes
- Make a wallet from shirt cuffs
- T-shirt into a headband
- Glitter shoes
- T-shirt into a halter top
- Frame your favorite t-shirts
- Cut jeans into shorts
It’s one of the extreme ways to save money, but the point is, you can repurpose clothes to wear or simply sell your new designs online. Upcycling clothes projects is a fun activity for kids and adults.
11. Buy an Affordable Car
A car is probably the second largest purchase you’ll ever make in your life after a house. Thus, buying an expensive car is a waste of money and can interfere with your financial planning process. Don’t allow the shiny object syndrome of a fancy and shiny new car to stop you from seeing the long-term gas and maintenance costs.
Look at your finances objectively before heading to the dealer. If a new car is a bad financial decision and strains your finances, then buy a used car to save money. Buying a pre-owned certified car is not being cheap; but instead, it’s being a savvy frugal consumer.
See our guide on ways to get a free VIN check before you buy a used car.
12. Save Money on Gas
Take advantage of apps like Gasbuddy to save money on gas. Alternatively, you can choose to walk or ride your bike to work. You’ll be able to save money on gas at the pump while enjoying physical exercise, which is good for your health.
Here are the best ways to save money on gas:
- Buy a car that doesn’t require premium gas – More luxury and high-performance cars require premium gas which is much more expensive than regular.
- Don’t use premium gas – Consult your owner’s manual, but most cars are fine using middle-grade gasoline vs. premium.
- Drive smarter – Don’t be the first car off the line and accelerate real fast. Also, use cruise control on the highway to save gas and avoid speeding.
- Drive less – Consolidate your weekly errands and plan your driving to save money on gas and time
- Buy fuel-efficient cars – Buy a 4-cylinder engine instead of a 6 or 8-cylinder high-performance engine.
- Gas apps – Use the best apps to save money on gas at the pump. I always check the price of gas before I fill it up. Though, I tend to find the cheapest gas at the warehouse clubs, like Costco and Sam’s.
- Alternative transportation – Bike or walk when you have time, and it makes sense.
13. Lower Your Insurance Rates
Are you paying higher insurance premiums than you should? Insurance costs can skyrocket unless you find the right auto or health policy.
Different insurance companies charge varying premium rates for the same insurance coverage. Your best bet is to shop around. Don’t sign any agreements with a car or health policy provider before checking premiums from other companies.
Making sure you aren’t overpaying is part of frugal living, and you can easily save thousands by looking around for ways to lower your insurance rates. I suggest shopping for your insurance every one to two years to find the best dirt cheap car insurance.
14. Change Old Light Bulbs to LED
Is your electric bill too high? Start by switching your old light bulbs.
What are the benefits of using LED lights vs. incandescent light bulbs?
LED light bulbs last about 50 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Also, LED lights use over 75% less energy than an incandescent light bulb. Lighting your home accounts for around 20 percent of your electric bill. The average electric bill is around $118 per month, according to the US Energy Information Administration. If lighting is 20% of $118 and you can reduce it by 75%, then you’ll save around $18 per month or over $215 per year by upgrading to LED light bulbs.
15. Automatic Savings Plan
Part of thrifty living is to use an automatic saving plan to make sure that you save money every month and then invest in income-producing assets to grow your savings faster. An automatic saving plan means that money is transferred directly from your account to a savings or retirement accounts before it gets into your hands.
Start by automating your retirement savings so that money is directly deposited into your retirement account anytime you receive a check from your employers.
Then automate all your bill payments and any monthly installments on loans. It’s an excellent way to make sure that you won’t fall behind in your credit payments, avoid late payment fees, and ensure that you’ll never miss a saving.
16. Get Free Stuff at Your Library
Are you overspending on books or movies? Taking advantage of free resources at your local library is one of the best frugal living tips for seniors and a great way to embrace simple living. You’ll be surprised by the extensive collection of free stuff in the nearby library like books, movies, magazines, newspapers, and more.
If you haven’t signed up for a library card in your area, it’s about time you consider doing so. You can also access a wide selection of eBooks and audiobooks via apps like Overdrive or Libby if you sign up online.
Learn how much a library card costs and why I happily pay $196 a year!
17. Cancel Unwanted Subscriptions
Are you guilty of having gone overboard with your subscriptions? It’s time to look at them objectively and get rid of unwanted subscriptions. Keep only a few that you have time for and cancel the rest!
Apps like DoNotPay allow you to cancel any unwanted subscriptions, including MasterClass, Disney+, Pandora, Hulu, Netflix, Scribd, Apple News+, Kindle Unlimited, Amazon Music Unlimited, Noom, The Great Courses, Babbel, Malwarebytes, and more.
18. Get a Part-Time Job with No Experience
If you are struggling to live within your means, consider finding a part-time job to stretch your income. It’s an excellent way to earn more money on the side and build your savings faster.
Finding the energy to work a side hustle after your 9 to 5 is easier said than done. You should try finding a job that aligns with your interests. Work from home jobs are a good starting point, but you can also get a part-time job that doesn’t require prior skill or experience, like bussing tables at a restaurant.
Here are helpful resources to help you land a part-time job:
- Legit sites to get paid to do homework for money
- Best online transcription jobs for beginners
- Best under the table jobs that pay cash
19. Pay Off Debt Fast
Paying off debt is essential to achieving long-term financial success. Debt, especially credit card debt, is costly. The faster you pay it down, the better.
If you are already in debt, consider using either the Avalanche method or the Snowball method to prioritize and pay off debt faster. You can also take advantage of credit cards that offer 0% interest on balance transfers to pay down your credit card debt within a short time. Eliminating debt fast reduces stress and allows you to focus on your long-term financial goals.
20. Staying Out of Credit Card Debt
One of the key frugal living tips is to avoid drowning in credit card debt by making sure that you pay your balance in full every month. Make your monthly credit card payments on time to avoid late payment fees. Late credit card payment fees can often go up to $40, plus your interest rate can go significantly higher.
Your credit score will go even lower, and the fees will go higher if you get a demand letter from debt collection due to non-payment. Always call your creditor immediately if you are going to be late or cannot afford a payment.
Avoid getting too many credit cards. You should have only 2-3 credit cards from different payment processing networks, such as American Express, Visa, Mastercard, or Discover.
If you can’t meet your credit card obligations, then you’re better off steering clear of their usage. You’ll save yourself a ton of money in interest rates and penalties down the line.
21. Buy a Smaller Home
Buying a small or tiny home is a top frugal hack if you want to nail your financial goals. The perks of living in a larger home come with a cost. It’s better to live in a home you can afford than struggle to make ends meet in a larger home that’s somehow beyond your means. Sometimes it’s even cheaper to rent than to buy.
Here are the benefits of buying a smaller home:
- Costs less than a larger home
- Lower mortgage payments, hence better cash flow
- Lower escrow costs like property taxes and home insurance premiums
- More energy efficient, hence lower energy bills
- Lower maintenance and upkeep costs
- Cheaper to furnish small bedrooms on a budget
22. No Spend Challenge (Low-Buy)
One way to master frugal finance is by opting for a no-spend challenge. A no-spend challenge or a low-buy period helps you reboot your spending to trace where your money has been going and where it shouldn’t be going.
You decide a particular period, say a week, a month, or even a year, without spending any extra money on specific categories.
It’s more about going with a bare-bones budget where you only buy things you need to survive while drastically cutting expenses. For instance, you can decide not to buy any more groceries until you clear out the pantry and freezer or decide to go for six months without buying new clothes or eating out.
What are the top 10 tips for a successful no-spend challenge?
- Use only what you already have in the pantry or freezer, and don’t buy new items until you clear them out.
- Meal plan for a week or a month so that you aren’t tempted to eat out
- Make a budget and stick to it.
- Set clear goals for the period. What do you want to achieve?
- Have things to do during your free time like playing at the park, riding bikes, going to the library, and deep cleaning your place.
- Buy groceries in bulk and make sure that you have everything you need for the period.
- Tell your friends about the no-spend challenge so that they can support you instead of tempting you to spend more.
- Unsubscribe from store emails that tempt you to spend money
- According to Mercator Advisory Group, use up gift cards – Up to $3 billion in gift cards go unused each year.
- Don’t bring extra money when you go out, so you don’t impulse buy
23. Money Making Apps and Websites
Have a smartphone? Earning money has never been easier. Today, apps exist to help you earn extra money on the side doing things you love. You can earn cash back on purchases, get paid to exercise, sell items you don’t want online, or even snap beautiful pictures and sell them online.
There are even apps that pay real money to play! Other apps help you invest your spare change or use it to pay the debt. Rakuten, Ibotta, Be Frugal, and Swagbucks are just some of the apps that can help you put extra money in your pocket and achieve your financial goals faster. Websites like Amazon and eBay are good places to sell stuff online.
Are you a student? Read our article on How to Make Money Online as a College Student while in school.
24. Buy in Bulk and Save Wholesale
Buying in bulk is a top frugal hack. You reduce the cost per unit and save time and money by cutting one or two trips to the grocery store. Yes! You can drastically cut your grocery bill by buying some items in bulk.
The best things you should buy in bulk include canned goods, rice, dry beans, cereals, coffee, pasta, laundry detergent, vitamins, butter, alcohol, nuts, batteries, pet food, diapers, toilet paper, and toiletries. You can also buy perishable food items in bulk if you plan to cook in bulk and freeze food portions for the whole week to avoid wastage.
25. Cancel Cable and Still Watch TV
Yes, you can cancel cable and still watch TV. It’s one of the top frugal tips you can live by. Who likes paying over $100 a month for cable or satellite bills?
Ditch cable TV and switch to a cheaper streaming service where you can still watch your favorite television shows for about $15 a month or not more than $50 if you need Live TV to watch sports.
Just buy the streaming device, have an internet connection, and subscribe to a streaming service, and you’re all set!
26. Frugal Travel Tips
There are easy frugal travel hacks to save money. Instead of traveling during the peak season, save money traveling off-season. Sign up for email alerts and travel blogs alerting you when hotel prices and flight tickets fall by almost half.
You’ll have a wonderful vacation because you won’t have to fight with millions of tourists if you go off-peak. To save even more money on vacation, opt for a kitchen to cook your meals instead of expensive meals at restaurants.
Here are top tips for frugal vacations:
- Don’t fly Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
- Sign up for a cheap flight newsletter
- Set price alerts
- Opt for places with favorable exchange rates
- Use cashback websites like Rakuten and Giving Assistant when you book
- Opt for a rewards credit card when you book
- Join travel loyalty programs
- Look for discounted deals like Southwest Airlines discount deals
27. Find Cheap Salons or DIY
How often do you go for a haircut, massages, or have your hair and nails done? Maybe twice or more a month. Reducing your salon visits to once a month can save you a ton of money. You even cut your own hair or DIY your nails, or visit places that offer these services at a lower price. They’re all savvy frugal tips that can save you money in the long run.
Try these frugal beauty tips:
- Find places with cheap or free haircuts
- Dye your own hair
- Visit salons that offer cheap massage deals near you
28. Frugal Gifting
A lot of gifting goes on during the holidays, especially during the Christmas holiday. As the most expensive holiday season, one of the best ways to have a frugal Christmas is to make handmade gifts instead of buying. YouTube and Pinterest videos exist that can help you hand-make a gift or generate great gift-making ideas.
29. Lower Your Monthly Utility Bills
Utility bills keep going higher. Have things like your electric bill doubled over the years? Finding a way to bring them down is a top frugal hack that can help you lower your monthly utility bills.
- Use cold water when washing clothes
- Use fans instead of the air conditioner
- Unplug electronic devices
- Use smart power strips to detect devices on standby mode and cut off power to save energy
- Avoid cooking with your oven on hot summer days
- Easy steps to lower your AT&T Uverse bill for existing customers
- Lower your Comcast bill
- Negotiate with ADT to lower your home alarm bill
30. Fun Things to do Near Me
You don’t have to spend a fortune to have fun. There are many things you can do during your free time without emptying your wallet. Finding free fun things to do near me is part of thrifty living, including:
- Go to the park with your family or a friend
- Watch the sunset from a lakeside or any place that offers great views
- Play board games like Scrabble, Monopoly, and any other board games that make you think
- Have a card night with a friend
- Go to the museum or zoo during free or discount days
31. Save Money on Coffee
Coffee can be expensive in the long run. Spending $4 on a cup of latte every day can quickly run up to $1,460 per year. Yikes! A great frugal living tip is to learn how to save money on coffee through the following ways:
- Make coffee at home
- Use coffee apps like Level Up or Cups to rack up rewards and save anytime you visit your coffee shop
- Drink less expensive black coffee
- Look for free coffee deals online
- Stop drinking coffee altogether if your coffee addiction is spiraling out of control
32. Exercise on a Budget
A fit and healthy life is part of thrifty living. You can exercise and achieve your health and fitness goals within a budget. Experts recommend 30 minutes of physical exercise per day.
Here’s are ways to work out on a budget:
- Exercise with your body. It doesn’t cost anything to walk or jog around the neighborhood or do pushups and planks in your house.
- DIY your own weights and exercise at home
- Swim at the community pool
- Shop around for gyms that provide a week’s pass or discounts
- Join your local sports team or the park district
- Bike to work
- Shop around for cheap gym memberships
- Buy used home exercise equipment like an exercise recumbent bike.
33. Say No to Impulse Buying
Americans spend an average of $183 per month on impulse buying. Spending money feels good in the short run, but buying things outside your budget ends up interfering with your financial planning process in the long run.
Best frugal living tips on ways to stop overspending on impulse buys:
- Make a shopping list and stick to it
- Wait a day or longer before you buy something you crave
- Don’t shop when you are hungry or emotional
- Go with a friend to keep you in check
- Carry only the cash you need
34. Buy Discount Gift Cards
Buying discount gift cards online can save you money. When you buy a $100 gift card at $80, you save $20. You can also sell unredeemed gift cards online on sites like Raise, Gift Card Granny, Cardcash.com, and more.
35. Bring Lunch to Work
Brown bagging it to work is an excellent way to save money on expensive lunches at a restaurant. Saving $10 to $30 per day on lunch adds up fast. It’s not an easy thing to see all your friends leave and bring back fun lunches every day while you eat leftovers or a sandwich from home. But, in the long run, you’ll appreciate the savings.
36. Drink Water
How much money do you spend on blended coffee and sodas per day? You can have more money in your pocket if you ditch expensive drinks and opt for water as a way to improve daily health and wellness.
How drinking water saves you money?
- Drinking water will help you stop wasting money on soda and coffee
- You’ll eat less when you drink water with a meal
- Save money on gas by cutting trips to the stores for soft drinks and coffee
One of the clever frugal hacks is learning to use what you have to make money. You can recycle stuff in your house for money. Here are ways on how recycling can make you money:
- Sell used car batteries for cash
- Recycle aluminum cans to make money
- Get cash for your old refrigerator
- Sell scrap metal for cash
- Places to sell and recycle wood pallets for money
38. Get Freebies in the Mail or Nearby
Why buy it when you can get it for free! Some people are trying to be minimalists and get rid of stuff for free to clean out their house or move. There are several ways to get free stuff without spending money:
- Get free stuff for teachers
- Get free shoes online by mail
- Free books by the mail
- Visit sites like Craigslist for free stuff
- You can even get free Nike shoes by mail
Read our article on How to Get Free Stuff Online Without Paying a Penny (25 Ways) – SERIOUSLY!
39. Get Free Stuff from the Government
Taking advantage of government programs for free or discounted stuff is a big plus for someone being frugal, such as:
- Free Appliances for low-income families
- Free Internet and laptop for low-income families
- Free Vet Care
40. Frugal Shopping
An old saying is, “A dollar saved is worth two dollars earned.” If you can buy things at 50% off, you can either buy twice as much or invest that for your future. I shop frugally to stretch my dollar and give myself a “raise” in my annual wage.
What are some ways to buy stuff for less?
- Ask for a discount – I am constantly asking service people and stores for a discount. I’ll ask things like, “Can I get a discount with cash?” or “Are there any coupons or sales I don’t know about?”
- Buy refurbished stuff – Many refurbished items are like new and come with an acceptable return policy and product warranty.
- Be patient – I create watchlists on eBay for things I want and wait. Sometimes it takes a couple of days, and other times I’ve waited months to even a year for things I want to buy for a discount. For example, I have a watchlist for discount tennis shoes, so I have a replacement for when they’re worn out; I’m not in a hurry.
- Senior discount – Don’t be embarrassed to ask for a senior discount. Surprisingly, my health club gives a discount to adults 50 and over! The health club cuts some of the fees in half for seniors.
- Fast fashion – If you like being a fashionista, then consider shopping on the cheap trendy clothes stores online for deals.
- Buy direct – There are shopping sites and apps like Wish for online shopping to buy things directly from the manufacturer for cheap. You can find many things sold on Amazon for a steep discount. The only downside is that some stuff can take several weeks to arrive if it’s coming from overseas.
41. Frugal Fashion
You don’t have to break the bank to look fashionable. Use the best shopping sites and apps like Wish for online shopping and look great on a budget.
42. Keep Your Car Well Maintained
You can save thousands of dollars a year by keeping your car well maintained. Here are the top frugal living tips for keeping your car well maintained:
- Change your oil regularly, according to your owner’s manual
- Replace your cabin air filter and engine air filter yourself with our guide
- Keep your car properly tuned
- Check your tire pressure regularly and get free air
- Check fluid levels regularly
- Use the proper tires for your car
- Get wheel alignment when needed
43. Get Paid Driving Your Car
Getting a job in the transportation industry is a good way to earn extra cash on the side and achieve your financial goals faster. Here are some frugal hacks on how to get paid driving your car:
- Paid to advertise on your car
- Side jobs with your pickup truck
- Become a pilot car driver
- Get paid to deliver cars
44. Get Paid to Shop
You can get paid to shop. It sounds unbelievable, but there are legit mystery shopping companies that will pay you to shop and review a store. Learn about the best mystery shopping companies to work for.
45. Frugal Wedding Ideas
The average cost of a wedding in 2019 was almost $34,000. Here are frugal wedding ideas to make a wedding cheaper:
- Ask family or friends to help design your signs, invitations, or seating cards
- Choose a buffet-style dinner that costs about $27 per person
- Opt for beautiful, unconventional outdoor venues like universities, botanical gardens, zoos, and libraries
- Shop for dresses and decor during big sales, rent wedding clothes, buy secondhand wedding clothes
- Airbnb your honeymoon
- Book a venue in a remote location
- Get married offseason when venues a cheaper
- Book a wedding venue on a weekday
46. Check unit prices when grocery or retail shopping
47. More meatless meals when meal planning
48. Check the clearance aisle or manager’s special at the grocery store
49. Buy a scratch and dent deep freezer
50. Keep a starter in your fridge and make your own bread
51. Slice your own deli meat; consider buying a meat slicer if you eat a lot of sandwiches for lunch
52. Use a crockpot to make easy meals for a large family
53. Purchase discounted gift cards for gas and groceries
54. Wash your own car
55. Avoid toll roads if all things are equal
56. Carpool or take the train to work
57. Part-time driver insurance discount if you take the train to work or work from home
58. Ask your employer to work from home, if possible, to save on lunches and travel costs
59. Use a home LaserJet printer instead of an inkjet for all black and white printing
60. Eliminate your house phone
61. Purchase your cable modem instead of renting it from your cable company
62. Learn to fix things yourself via YouTube and not call a repair person
63. Unplug unused electronics and appliances to save electric costs
64. Buy thick curtains to keep your windows insulated on hot and cold days
65. Allow a waiting period before making a big purchase like a new television
66. Cancel free trials by marking your calendar a couple of days for it ends, and your credit card gets charged
67. Check your company or membership organizations like AAA for discounts for travel, entertainment, food, and services.
68. Schedule meetups with friends during happy hour to get discounted drinks and food
69. Have an alcoholic drink at home instead of a restaurant
70. Turn off overdraft protection and don’t spend more than you have in your checking account.
71. Never play the lottery
72. Quit smoking also saves on medical costs
73. Select a moderate temperature with your thermostat; put on a sweater if you’re cold
74. Download apps that use loyalty programs to reward devoted customers
Frugal Living Tips With a Big Impact to Save Money Summary
As you can see, a lot goes into a frugal lifestyle. Frugal living isn’t about being cheap, but about setting financial priorities and making sacrifices on less important areas; it’s about opportunity cost and better places to spend money, like saving it. The frugal life hacks will become less intimidating once you start using them regularly.
Start by setting clear goals and let your goals motivate you. You’ll live a stress-free and more fulfilled life knowing that you are on your way to achieving financial freedom faster, never having to worry about emergencies, and living debt-free.
The short-term sacrifices don’t compare to the future opportunities like buying a dream home, paying for your kid’s college or grad school, retiring early, and living a comfortable retirement. Thrifty living can make it possible to retire with six figures or even seven figures in investments.