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Are you in debt and struggling to save for your dream vacation?
These are signs that you are living beyond your means.
But don’t worry; you’re not alone.
Many people are dealing with debt and barely have any money in their bank accounts. It’s no surprise that saving money and frugal living blogs are very popular these days. They could help you realistically save $10,000 in a year.
On the other hand, many people have saved their way to a million dollars through frugality as indicated in the book called “The Millionaire Next Door”.
Whether you’re in search of responsible frugal living suggestions or you’re tempted by extreme penny-pinching methods, I’m here to reassure you that it’s possible to become a millionaire by 30 (even in your 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond) through solid money habits alone.
Saving money is not easy, but it’s not impossible. You won’t need extreme cheapskate tips like dumpster diving to build a healthy relationship with your finances. There are many simple frugal living tips and ideas that are easy and effective.
Before we jump into the best frugal living tips and ideas that work, we need to clear the air around frugal living.
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What is frugal living?
There are so many benefits of frugal living but let me walk you though what frugal living really means.
When people hear the term “frugal”, they cringe.
This is because they believe that living frugally means living a life as a cheapskate. They think that frugality is about no spending, not even a penny, and depriving yourself of happiness.
Being frugal is NOT the same as being cheap, full stop.
So no, I won’t be discussing any extreme cheapskate ideas here, as they can sometimes lead to negative health impacts, poor manners, and dishonest behavior toward others. I’m really not a fan of this, and it makes me feel quite uncomfortable when I see others discussing this topic.
The meaning behind frugal living is to be mindful and smart with your money.
Focusing your spending on things and experiences that ADD value and bring joy to your life, and not wasting money on unnecessary things is the key to frugality.
When shopping, frugal individuals choose quality over the lowest price.
Frugal people are not afraid to pay a premium for a pair of New Balance running shoes than to buy a generic pair of runners because they value comfort and durability. They expect the pair of New Balance will likely have better support for the feet and will last longer than a pair of no-name runners.
A cheap person doesn’t like to spend money and will buy the lowest-priced item. They will sacrifice quality along with their health for a price any day.
They would rather buy the least expensive pair of jeans, which won’t last too long than spend more on a quality pair of jeans that will last longer.
Is it good to be frugal?
As I mentioned earlier, there are many benefits to frugal living, stemming from the simplicity it brings to daily living. By practicing frugality properly, you may experience:
- Less stress – you don’t need to keep up with the Joneses.
- Less clutter – eliminating spending on unnecessary things will result in a cleaner living space.
- More freedom – saving more money will allow you to pay off debt or retire earlier than planned.
- A healthier lifestyle – being frugal may prompt you to grow your own vegetables and eat only whole foods, which is a lot less expensive compared to going out or buying pre-made foods.
However, if you’re not careful, you may cross the line of frugality and end up in cheapskate land.
Be conscious of your spending, but don’t pinch every penny. Your time is very valuable so don’t wait in line for hours at the cheapest gas station just to save a few dollars.
Best Frugal Living Tips and Ideas
These tips are grouped into categories on how we live our lives.
- Money saving tips on food
- Save money shopping
- Frugal lifestyle hacks
- Fun frugal activities
Frugal living tips on how to save money on food
Most people don’t realize, but food eats up a big chunk of our monthly budgets. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the average American household spends $7,729 a year on food – that’s a lot of money!
Finding smart ways to save money on groceries and food is a must!
Here are the top frugal tips and ideas to save big on food and groceries.
1. Find ways to get get free Starbucks drinks
We all love a good treat now and then. There’s no need to shy away from your favorite Starbucks latte or frappuccino if it genuinely brings you joy.
Personally, I love to drop by when they’re offering money-saving deals during Starbucks happy hours with their BOGO specials!
It becomes even more delightful when you blend all these frugal money-saving hacks to find ways to get Starbucks drinks for free.
2. Get cashback on your weekly groceries
If you love getting cashback on your purchases as much as we do, then you need Ibotta.
It’s just the best darn app ever!
It’s a FREE rebate app that gives cashback on your groceries (e.g. bread, banana, toiletries). They partnered with major retailers to offer rebates and discounts to everyday shoppers, like us.
It’s quick and simple to earn cashback on your regular weekly grocery shopping – all you have to do is take a photo of the receipt with the app.
Ibotta has paid out $575,219,289 to its users so you can trust that this app is legit.
The Ibotta app is so awesome that they are giving away $10 HERE for free to people for trying the app!
Offers like this don’t last forever so you don’t miss out on the opportunity to get some free money!
3. Purchase items that have multipurpose
Many of us are always on the go and don’t have much downtime, let alone cook a healthy meal.
After a long gruesome day of work, who has the strength to whip up a delicious meal at home?
The sad reality is that we end up ordering food from our go-to food delivery apps such as Postmates, UberEATS, DoorDash, etc.
Ordering take-out food is easy but it’s definitely not healthy for the wallet and waistline.
You don’t need to be told that you can save a TON of money by skipping take-out food – you already know that – you want to know HOW you can ditch the food delivery apps for good.
Don’t worry, this is why The Instant Pot was created – to make busy people’s lives easier, a lot easier.
It’s no wonder that it’s one of the most popular selling items in Kitchen and Dining!
You can ditch your slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, and sauté pan because the Instant Pot can do all of that!
You can make healthy meals less than 30 minutes with the Instant Pot. Do a quick search online and you’ll find endless frugal living recipes that can be easily prepared in under 30 minutes.
When healthy food can be made that fast, you won’t ever have to worry about contacting the police to report a missing delivery guy.
4. Buy groceries that are in season
When it’s winter, we wear more clothes to keep warm. For summer, we wear lighter and loose clothing to stay cool.
It’s clear that we dress according to seasons so why not eat seasonally?
Fruits and vegetables are fresher and cheaper when they are in season because it’s easier for farmers to grow. The more difficult and costly it is to grow food, the more farmers will charge consumers for their produce. The cost is simply passed onto us, the consumers.
Not only is it friendly for your wallet when you eat seasonally, it also tastes better!
Growers have to harvest their crops before it gets to their ripest and refrigerate them to keep them from spoiling during shipping.
If you want a sweet deal on watermelons, buy them in the summer!
5. Buy in bulk and freeze extras
Everyone owns a refrigerator but not everyone uses it properly.
Most people use the refrigerator to store unfinished food for a few days to prevent it from spoiling and the freezer is often filled with ice cream or frozen frugal dinners.
When used correctly though, your refrigerator can save you a lot of money!
Before summer comes to an end, it’s always a good idea to stock up on sweet and cheap fruits and vegetables and freeze them for later.
Frozen fruits and vegetables can be stored for a year so you have plenty of time to enjoy them! They’re perfect for making morning smoothies to kick-start your day!
For meat-lovers, you can do the same for meat.
When there’s a great sale on chicken, beef or pork, buy in bulk and freeze the rest for next time.
USDA recommends the following when storing raw meat:
|Bacon and Sausage||1 to 2|
|Casseroles||2 to 3|
|Egg whites or egg substitutes||12|
|Frozen Dinners and Entrees||3 to 4|
|Gravy, meat or poultry||2 to 3|
|Ham, Hotdogs and Lunchmeats||1 to 2|
|Meat, uncooked roasts||4 to 12|
|Meat, uncooked steaks or chops||4 to 12|
|Meat, uncooked ground||3 to 4|
|Meat, cooked||2 to 3|
|Poultry, uncooked whole||12|
|Poultry, uncooked parts||9|
|Poultry, uncooked giblets||3 to 4|
|Soups and Stews||2 to 3|
|Wild game, uncooked||8 to 12|
Many people have goldfish memory so don’t forget to write the expiration date on Ziploc bags before putting the meat in the freezer. This way, you won’t be throwing out perfectly fine food in the garbage or even worse, eating food past its expiration date.
Frugal living tips to save money shopping
When people think about frugality, they think that you have to save every dollar.
This is a common misconception.
Being frugal doesn’t mean you can’t buy a single item for the rest of your life.
You can still buy things and be frugal. What’s important is that the purchases should bring value and happiness to your life. Otherwise, you should reconsider whether you should be making that purchase.
6. Receive cashback on your online shopping
Savvy online shoppers have one mission. That mission is to get the best deal online.
They are skilled at finding clever ways to save money when online shopping.
One of their favorite tricks is to use Rakuten (formerly called Ebates) to get cashback on their online purchases. Because I love and use Rakuten all the time, I wrote this Rakuten app review to explain how to use it to get the most money back on your purchases! So, I highly encourage you to check it out!
It’s so easy to get back money with Rakuten that people think it’s too good to be true. But once you understand their business model, it makes a lot of sense.
Rakuten earns a commission from over 2,500 stores when you shop through Rakuten.com. Rather than keeping all the commission themselves, Rakuten shares the commission with you.
The default cashback is 1%, but when they have promos, you can get 12% off your Amazon purchases!
This is how you can start getting cash back after you create a free Rakuten account here (along with a $30 sign-up bonus):
- go to Rakuten.com
- find the store you want to shop at
- click on the “Shop Now” button
- shop like how you normally
Cashback apps like Rakuten: Another cashback app that I enjoy using is Swagbucks app. For over a decade, I’ve used this and similar apps to save money on my shopping, as well as to earn free gift cards online from my favorite places like Starbucks, Amazon, and Sephora. This is a truly frugal method to snag free items, making everyday living feel a bit more affordable.
7. Invest in a capsule wardrobe to save money on clothes
This is one of my favorite and best frugal tips for you!
Investing in a capsule wardrobe is one of my passionate topics because it allows you to build your dream wardrobe with fashionable and high-quality clothes without hurting your wallet. It’s what I’ve been doing for the last several years, which has helped me quit buying unnecessary things to save money. I saved as much as $300 to $500 a month because I stopped mindlessly spending!
This practice essentially revolves around owning a minimal amount of clothing, but ensuring each piece is versatile, timeless, and interchangeable, thus maximizing the number of outfit combinations.
Instead of impulsively buying seasonal trends, you focus on essential pieces that never go out of style.
A capsule wardrobe can consist of roughly 30 to 40 items, including shoes and accessories, that can be mixed and matched to create outfits for all occasions.
By choosing high-quality garments, you also ensure longevity, which results in less need for replacements. Of course, you may want to replace a pair of jeans in a few years if a certain cut is out of style. Think about the transition from skinny jeans to wide-leg and cargo pants. But with well-cut t-shirts or cute crop tops in all your favorite neutral colors still being classics, there may be no need to replace them unless they decide long shirts become the next trend.
It’s an initial investment, but in the long run, it saves you money, time deciding what to wear, and even space in your closet. It also encourages mindful consumerism and a more sustainable lifestyle, as you’re less likely to contribute to fast fashion. Embrace the capsule wardrobe, and redefine what it means to dress stylishly on a budget! Now that’s how to enjoy frugal living without being cheap!
8. Invest in a frugal and natural skin care regime
Along with capsule wardrobes, I am also passionate about investing your time and money in a natural skincare regime. When you follow this approach, you won’t have to shop or spend a lot of money on makeup, which many is filled with toxins and bad ingredients that actually damage your skin and face with long-term use.
People often think natural skincare routines are expensive, but they can actually be super budget-friendly and, what’s more, they’re better for both you and the planet. Of course, you can stick with your favorite Vitamin C serum in the morning and retinol at night.
However, there’s a lot more to getting and keeping great skin than just using stuff you buy at the store. Good skin isn’t just about the lotions and potions – it involves a whole lot more.
With some research and experimentation, you can craft your own effective skincare products from simple, natural ingredients commonly found in your kitchen. Items like honey, oats, and yogurt can be transformed into nourishing masks, while oils like jojoba, argan, or coconut can serve as natural moisturizers.
Furthermore, make sure you are incorporating a healthy and well-balanced diet filled with skin-nourishing foods into your daily life, which includes avocado, berries, tomatoes, bell peppers, nuts, seeds, and other fruits and veggies packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Eating healthy is still part of a skincare regime.
Investing your money in a high-quality, natural skincare regime, although a bit pricier upfront, can save you money in the long run by maintaining your skin’s health and preventing expensive treatments later.
Frugality, in this sense, isn’t just about spending less—it’s about investing wisely in sustainable and holistic practices for long-term benefits.
9. Plan ahead to get great deals
Christmas shopping for the perfect gifts for family and friends is stressful, especially when you’re leaving some all of your shopping until Christmas Eve!
You can avoid all that unnecessary stress and save some money by planning your holiday shopping a couple of months ahead.
Retailers often have good sales during long weekends so you don’t have to wait for Black Friday to score great deals.
Another benefit of shopping early is that you can avoid the angry mob of shoppers, super long lines, shipping delays, and the risk of items being out of stock.
10. Clear your cookies to get the best price
When you go online to read your daily news, articles or buying something, you leave a trail of your online browsing habits.
This data is tracked by your Internet browser in the form of “cookies.”
Cookies are a double-edged sword.
They make our lives easier by remembering our login information or tracking the items we have in our online shopping carts.
Without cookies, you would have to type in your user name and password every time you want to log into your email. If you’re shopping online and want to buy more than one item, your shopping cart will be empty every time you click on a link before you complete your transaction.
For example, if a retailer knows that you’ve been consistently visiting their online shop, they know that you’re an interested customer and are more likely to pay more for their products than a brand new customer.
Some online retailers may reduce their discounts offered to customers that are always visiting their sites.
To avoid getting ripped off by some online stores, always clear your browser cookies before you add items to your shopping cart.
Frugal lifestyle hacks
11. Find free money today
Frugal individuals love to find creative ways to stretch their dollars and make the most of their income. This often includes finding legitimate ways to get free money.
They’re experts at leveraging cashback apps like Rakuten, rewards programs, and credit card points.
By using these tools strategically, they essentially earn money for purchases they’d make anyway. This is an aspect of frugal living that might seem unconventional, but it is incredibly effective.
They also take advantage of things like employer-matched retirement contributions and online surveys that pay. Such tactics might require a bit of effort and planning, but they can add a surprising boost to your savings over time.
12. Find free stuff online
Frugal living doesn’t just stop at saving cash; it’s also about making the most of resources available at no cost.
A common practice among frugal folks is seeking out free stuff online.
I’ve personally done this before when I was looking for free furniture online to flip for extra money, which helped me make $1,000 fast.
From websites that offer free samples of products, to online communities that facilitate the giving and receiving of used items, there’s a surprising amount of stuff you can get without spending a penny.
E-books, educational courses, software, and even furniture are often up for grabs if you know where to look. It’s like an online treasure hunt, and it’s all about reducing waste, recycling, and saving money. This not only benefits your pocket but also contributes to a more sustainable world.
13. Drink more water
Ever since I turned 19 and had a real struggle with acne, I’ve made drinking water a daily habit. I wanted to avoid sugary drinks that could make my skin problems even worse. Not to mention, did you also know that sugar is the fastest way to age your skin?
Drinking more water is not only a great health habit that gives you glowing skin, but it’s also a fantastic way to save money. Just think about how much you spend on soda, coffee, or juice every day.
If you switch some of those for water, you’ll definitely notice the savings. Plus, staying well-hydrated can help keep your body hydrated, and it might even help you snack less on junk foods, so it’s a win-win for your health and your wallet.
So, try carrying a refillable water bottle around – it’s an easy, cheap way to stay hydrated and cut down on costs.
14. Declutter your life
Take a quick moment and look around your living space.
Is it a mess again when you cleaned it not too long ago?
Sure, it’s an organized mess and you know exactly where everything is located.
But when you’re in a rush to head out the door, your photographic memory conveniently poops out on you and you’re searching for your headphones like a manic.
Clutter tends to ruin people’s lives and puts unnecessary stress on your health – mentally and physically, relationships and finances!
When our homes are not organized, it’s easy to misplace items and cause us to buy the same items again. What’s worse is that we may even miss the payment dates on our bills and have to pay late fees because we mixed the bills with the junk mails.
That’s money down the drain!
You can turn your life around and make extra money by selling your clutter online.
Try using the best apps to sell your stuff online for cash. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!
The takeaway from this is you don’t need to adopt a minimalist lifestyle and live on nothing to reap the benefits of living a clutter-free life.
Keep things that you need, use, and are important to you and your life will be a lot simpler.
Try it – you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
15. DIY Repairs
Car maintenance is critical to driving safety, but the cost can quickly add up if you bring your car to the dealership or garage for everything.
You can save time and money from visiting the garage by doing simple tasks yourself, such as changing a headlight bulb or oil change.
There are many videos on YouTube where you can follow their detailed step-by-step process. If you’re not handy, call a friend up and tackle it as a team.
For complicated or big jobs, make sure you hire a professional to take care of the jobs. The last thing you want is to poke around and make matter worse.
16. Don’t over-wash your clothes
Growing up as kids, we were taught to wash our clothes after every wear to be clean and presentable.
Our shirts are natural ketchup magnets because no matter how hard we try to avoid ketchup, they always end up staining our shirts.
This advice made sense because our clothes get dirty easily when we’re outdoors having fun and living life to its fullest.
As we get older, we tend to be more careful with our clothes and stain them less often – except for coffee stains.
Certain clothes don’t need to be washed after every wear, which we will go over shortly.
If your favorite pair of jeans is still clean (i.e. no stains or odor) after a single wear, you can wear them a couple more times before tossing them in the washing machine.
Skipping the weekly wash cycle will extend the life of your outfits and lower your laundry cost. A win-win situation!
Real Simple’s guide to laundry tips will save you time and money.
- T-shirts and tanks – after every wear
- Anything white or silk – after every wear
- Underwear and socks – after every wear
- Workout clothes – after every wear
- Shorts – after 2 to 3 wears
- Sweaters (cotton, silk & cashmere) – after 2 wears
- Sweaters (wool and synthetic blends) – after 5 wears
- Pajamas – after 3 to 4 wears
- Jeans – after 4 to 5 wears
- Dress pants and skirts – after 5 to 7 wears
17. Always negotiate for more
If there’s one thing we need to improve on, it’s our negotiating skills.
Many of us settle for what we have to avoid negotiating for better salary, hours and prices because the negotiation process makes us uncomfortable.
One of the main reasons why we don’t negotiate is the fear of rejection and being viewed as being pushy or greedy.
If you don’t ask, the answer will always be “no.” But if you ask, you may get a “yes.”
Earning more money is not everything, but it can definitely help many of us improve our living standards. So no, asking for more money is not being greedy.
You need to get out of this psychological trap or else you’ll be leaving money on the table.
Missing out on this money will hurt you financially in the long run. When companies calculate your bonus and salary/wage increases, it’s typically based on your base salary. If you don’t fight for a higher base salary, your raises and bonus will be lower.
You can also save a lot of money by negotiating better prices with your monthly services.
Call your insurance company, cellphone, and cable service providers to ask for discounts. But before you pick up the phone, take a moment to research what the current promotions are so you have better odds of getting a good deal. Being knowledgeable helps a lot in the negotiation game.
18. Furnish your home on a budget
HGTV makes everyone want fancy homes with all the expensive stuff.
But hey, who says you can’t make your home look amazing without spending a ton?
There are lots of ways to make your place look cool without emptying your bank account. Think about buying used stuff, giving your old furniture a makeover, or using some cool Ikea hacks.
Also, Pinterest is a place to be because it’s packed with affordable ideas!
Fun frugal activities
Embracing a frugal lifestyle doesn’t mean you cut fun out of your life. Sometimes, you don’t need to spend a fortune to have a great time.
What matters most is who we’re spending the time with.
Here are some budget-friendly fun frugal activities that you can try with your friends and family.
19. Enjoy the outdoors
In today’s modern society, many of us feel sluggish and tired because we spend the majority of our waking hours indoors and in front of screens.
During work hours, we’re busy typing away at our desks answering endless emails. At home, we relax on our comfy couch with our smartphones to check our social media feeds and catch up on things we’ve missed.
We spend countless hours indoors and not enough time outdoors.
We don’t need scientific research to tell us that outdoor activities provide many health benefits and can improve our overall well-being.
Go outside and enjoy some fresh air with these fun frugal activities that don’t cost you a thing!
- Hiking: One of the best ways to get back in touch with Mother Nature is hiking. You can disconnect and escape all the negative distractions coming from your electronics to recharge your mind and body. You’ll feel refreshed and full of energy after a good hike. Be sure to wear proper shoes and stay hydrated.
- Have a picnic at the park: If you like to relax and eat at the same time then going for a picnic is perfect for you. Going on a picnic with your friends and family is a great way to spend quality time together. Being around green scenery is therapeutic and will make you feel calmer and less stressed.
- Go to the beach: When you think of summer, you think of beaches. Save the plane ticket to the Caribbean and head over to your local beach! Go for a stroll on the boardwalk, throw a Frisbee with your friends, or bake in the sun! Again, stay safe in the sun with sunscreen, and remember to stay hydrated.
- Visit local festivities: You are dead wrong if you think that your city is boring and there is nothing to do. There are a ton of things happening in your city, but you tune it out because it’s outside your comfort zone. Open your mind to trying new things and you’ll notice there are many things and activities to do in your own city. If your city were truly boring, there wouldn’t be any tourists visiting it.
20. Visit the library
This is a classic frugal activity that doesn’t cost a cent.
The library is not just for bookworms, although it’s the best place to be if you love reading. This place is a treasure chest filled with free resources for you to discover.
You can read your favorite magazines there without having to pay for those costly subscriptions!
Many people have learned a new language on their bucket list. This is the perfect opportunity to check out some language books and cross it off that list.
If you prefer to kick up your heels and relax in the comfort of your home, you can take a bunch of classic and current movies to enjoy.
21. Host potlucks
Knowing your favorite restaurants’ menus by heart is a sign that you’re spending a lot of money dining out.
Going out once in a while to unwind and catch up with friends is fine. But if this turns into a habit, you’ll be eating away your fortune in no time.
Rather than eating out every time you and your friends want to hang out, try hosting a potluck with your friends to see who are the best and worst cooks!
A good idea is to discuss what each person will be making and bringing to avoid a table full of mac and cheese. Communication is key.
Potlucks will save you from the overpriced meals, terrible services, and mandatory tip culture at restaurants.
22. Games Night
Having a board and card games night with your friends and family is a fantastic way to laugh and humiliate each other. But be careful, if you win every game, people might accuse you of cheating. Haters gonna hate. Players gonna play.
A very fun and popular card game is Exploding Kittens. Trust me, this is super cute and fun! 😉
Don’t let the name fool you – it’s not violent at all. It’s an easy, fun, and highly strategic card game for everyone to enjoy. The Russian roulette-style gameplay makes things extremely unpredictable!
Pick up your favorite games and bring your A-game to the showdown. Here are some more ideas for fun and frugal activities.
How can I live more frugally?
Have you stared at your bank account balance before and wondered why it’s not growing even though your wage increased over the years?
You, my friend, have fallen victim to lifestyle creep.
Lifestyle creep happens when your expenses rise along with your salary.
After making more money, you’ve naturally upgraded your lifestyle by being more free with your money. You started to dine out more often or spend more money at your favorite shops. The nice-to-have slowly turned into necessities.
Luckily, living frugally can reverse this trend and allow you to take control of your finances.
Being frugal doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to something nice after a pay raise or promotion. You worked hard for it so it makes perfect sense to celebrate it!
However, don’t splurge on things that will make you happy for a week only, like upgrading your smartphone to the newest model when your current one works perfectly fine.
Instead, spend with intent – buy things that really matter to you!
Go ahead and book that long-overdue trip you had put on hold forever.
If you ask me, a memorable trip beats a new shiny object any day.
Final thoughts on frugal living tips
Adopting a frugal lifestyle doesn’t require you to cut all your spending and live on nothing.
You can live a happier and less stressful life by eliminating unnecessary spending and clutter from your life. Spend intentionally – buy things that you truly value.
Live a happy life while balancing your needs, wants, and spending.
Readers — did you enjoy these frugal living tips? What other frugal living tips do you have that can help others save some serious money?