By living frugally, you live within your means, utilizing money hacks and careful planning to enjoy all the essential things in your life. All the while, it is helping you save money and finally pay off those debts.
But cutting expenditures can be difficult when you’re on a tight budget, and that’s where frugal living comes in.
According to a report, over three-quarters of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. So, how do you get ahead? Let’s go over some ideas!
Work Out How Frugal Living Works for You
Frugal living means spending your money intentionally, choosing which areas to prioritize your spending while cutting back on the less critical areas.
There isn’t a singular definition that interprets the meaning of frugal living. It means different things to different people. Essentially, frugal living is about finding out what works for you and your family.
By making minor changes to your lifestyle and spending habits, you will find that your savings start to mount.
An excellent way to begin frugal living is by introducing one strategy at a time. If it works, keep it and add another. If it doesn’t work, get rid of that strategy and try something different.
Learn To Keep a Budget
Keeping a budget is one of the single most valuable tools when living frugally.
Below is a step-by-step guide to beginning a budget:
- Work out your total level of debt. Make a note of all of the debts listed on your credit report, along with other outstanding debts (such as money owed to family or friends). Also, include interest rates in your documentation.
- Calculate your total monthly expenses. Which outgoings are essential? Which are favorable but unessential? And which is a waste of money?
- Make a note of variable monthly expenses. For example, while rates or mortgage payments may be a set rate, many other outgoing expenditures are variable such as grocery shopping or recreational purchases.
- Please calculate your total monthly income and compare it to your current spending levels. Do you have money to spare at the end of the month, or are you spending beyond your means?
Plan Ahead of Schedule
Planning ahead can save you hundreds of dollars every year, especially when it comes to food and meal preparation, and budget meal planning does not mean that you have to live on a diet of rice and beans.
Meal planning does not prevent you from enjoying your favorite foods. Instead, it eliminates waste and helps you to avoid impulse purchases.
Meal Planning 101
Working out a fortnightly or even monthly meal plan is a great way to save yourself some money.
- Begin by itemizing your pantry to see what you already have and think about how you could utilize those items, especially those approaching their sell-by date.
- Check out your grocery store online to view current specials, bulk buys, and other discounted products such as seasonal fruits and veggies.
- Once you’ve compiled a list of your current stock plus supermarket specials, begin to plan your meals for the next two weeks/month, working out which ingredients you need and what your total expenditure will be.
Aim to keep the outgoing costs to your budget. If you’re over budget, try swapping premium brands for generic or in-house brands or use alternative ingredients in your cooking.
Finally, if you’re the type of shopper who can’t resist the end of the aisle impulse buys, try shopping online to avoid distractions and only purchase the items on your list.
10 Tips to Reduce Your Current Expenses and Cut Down Wasteful Spending
- Enjoy more home cooking. If you do go to a restaurant, check for vouchers or discounts online. Also, look for specials such as two for one deals or happy hours.
- Opt for a packed lunch at work rather than buying food each day.
- Shop second-hand instead of new and buy products that are out of season.
- Try free streaming services instead of subscriptions.
- When you see something you want, take a picture of it and note the price. Then, over the next week, compare its price to online listings. If it compares well and you still want it by the end of the week, buy it.
- DIY (where you can) – grab a pair of tweezers instead of paying for an expensive wax treatment, or grow your greens instead of paying premium prices in-store. Then, take this a step further by utilizing online tutorials to create your cleaning and body care products from simple shop-bought ingredients.
- Exercise at home instead of spending money on a gym membership. With an array of workout videos available for free online and the inviting nature of the great outdoors, there are infinite ways to stay fit and healthy without paying for a gym membership.
- Use free trials to avoid paying for premium products – remember to set the alarm so that you can opt out before your trial expires and avoid incurring charges.
- Cycle instead of driving. Not only will this reduce your petrol and car maintenance costs; additionally, you’ll be helping to reduce your carbon footprint.
- Use cash instead of a card. If you want to stick to a strict budget, try withdrawing only the amount of money you’ve budgeted for the week. This way, you can visualize exactly what you’re spending against your budget, and you’ll be less likely to overspend.
Reconsider Fast Fashion
“Fast fashion” is the term used to describe an industry whose turnover becomes faster as time passes. Over ten million tons of clothes are discarded annually in the USA alone, with the vast majority still perfectly wearable.
Fast fashion not only hurts your wallet but the environment too. However, shopping at second-hand or thrift stores doesn’t mean purchasing lower-quality clothing. In fact, you may find brands that were previously out of your budget range.
Second-hand means pre-loved, not cheap or substandard.
Learn To Say No
You don’t necessarily have the same financial budget as your friends. So, if others invite you to a restaurant or cafe that is out of your budget, it’s worth being honest about that or suggesting they come over to your place for a bowl of homemade soup instead.
Saying no to expensive outings doesn’t weaken you as a person, and you’d be surprised how many fun things you can enjoy at little to no cost. Keep an eye on community noticeboards, local libraries, and online forums for free events and places to visit.
For dinner, invite your friends over for a potluck instead of going out to expensive restaurants.
Invest Your Time
We have far more free time available than we realize; using this wisely can seriously put us ahead of the game.
There is an abundance of free resources you can use to learn online. However, learning how to do more things for yourself means fewer instances of paying professionals to do them for you.
Learning how to cut or dye your hair could save you hundreds of dollars a year on haircuts. Knowing how to keep accurate records of your accounts could save the expenditure of hiring an accountant. And learning new skills cannot only save you money but widen your career prospects too.
There is an abundance of hacks you can use throughout your daily life to cut down your expenses.
Swapping a bought lunch for a homemade lunch and bringing your coffee cup to work could save you an average of $75 a week.
Planting your vegetable garden can save you hundreds of dollars a year on buying fresh produce, and many are super simple to set up.
If time and space are limiting factors for you, microgreens are an excellent option as a nutrient-dense food that is cheap to plant, easy to grow and requires very little room to thrive. An empty salad container on a sunny windowsill is sufficient.
Wash your clothes in cold water and hang them out to dry. If you must use a dryer, try adding dryer balls to speed up the process, lessening your energy cost and expenditure.
Swap disposable products for reusable ones.
- Cloth napkins instead of disposable paper ones.
- Beeswax wraps in place of cling film or tin foil.
- Swap make-up wipes for a mitt.
- Use a metal straw instead of a plastic one.
- Menstrual cups in place of tampons.
Alternatively, Earn More Money!
If you enjoy your lifestyle and aren’t willing to give up your treats and splurges each month, then look for a way to increase your incoming cash.
Many online platforms allow you to earn extra cash for various tasks, from transcribing audio files to mystery shopping and market research.
If your computer skills aren’t up to scratch, think about your unique talents and how you could use them: do you love animals? Set up a dog walking side hustle. Or are you good at odd jobs? Advertise as a handy person in your local area.
Whether you’re overwhelmed by debt or looking to save some extra dollars for that trip you’ve been planning, frugal living is a way of bringing purpose to your spending.
Minor changes to everyday habits can make a huge difference, and who knows, you might even find the frugal lifestyle to be fun and rewarding!
Photo by Stoatphoto via Shutterstock.com.