Living frugally doesn’t necessarily mean living on the cheap. Learning how to live frugally and save money for important things can actually free up finances and give you more money to spend on the things you really want—instead of the things you think you need. We’ve compiled our top frugal living ideas to help you make the most out of your income and improve your personal finances. While using these frugal living tips, you may just find that your income can stretch farther than you thought.
1. Don’t be Wasteful
One of the best frugal living ideas is to simply not waste as much as you’re used to. It sounds simple, but it’s actually harder than you think. Make sure you use up all the shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste before tossing the container.
You’d also be surprised how much food you waste. Nearly one-third of the food produced in the world every year (1.3 billion tons) gets wasted. When it comes to food, well-planned meals that use some of the same ingredients can help you to avoid waste because the extras don’t sit and spoil in the fridge when you forget about them. Saving your leftovers is also part of not being wasteful. Put leftover food in plastic containers and eat them for dinner or lunch the next day. If you’re not able to eat leftovers within a day or two, freeze them to use later.
2. Pack a Lunch
It’s tempting to take the convenient route and head out to grab lunch while you’re at work. However, if you’re trying to live frugally, eating out can add up fast. Even if you only spend around $6 on lunch every day, it adds up to around $120 per month or $1,440 per year (yikes). Do yourself, and your wallet, a favor, and pack a lunch to take with you.
Coming up with a lunch every day can seem like a daunting task. If you need some inspiration, here are 52 creative lunch ideas that are easy to make.
3. Cut Down on Coffee
That early morning coffee run is costing you. Just like eating out for lunch, you will end up saving much more each month if you simply skip the coffee. Try making it at home and just bring it with you to work or when you run your errands.
4. Don’t Get Late Fees
Paying bills late can hurt you in a lot of ways and is certainly a habit you will want to break. Late bills result in fees that are avoidable, not to mention that they also take a chunk out of your budget. They can also affect your credit score and make it harder for you to get loans or financing you might need in the future.
For this frugal living tip, simply set up automatic payments so you don’t have to remember every time you have a bill due. You may also want to set up a separate bank account just for bills so you don’t accidentally use your rent money for the month. If you have trouble paying your bills at a certain time each month, talk to your providers and see if you can change the payment due date to better suit your schedule.
5. Save Money on Utilities
If you have the choice, look into different service providers for utilities and compare rates from one provider to another. If you haven’t checked in a while, call a few providers to compare rates. You may save some money each month by finding a better deal with this easy frugal living idea.
6. Pay as You Go or Use Prepaid
Just like switching utility providers can save you money, you may also want to look into getting a different phone service or simply switching to a prepaid or pay-as-you-go plan. With the abundance of wifi, it’s not always necessary to pay for unlimited service these days.
7. Adjust the Thermostat
You can save a substantial amount of money each month with this frugal living tip by simply moderating how you use your thermostat. In the winter, it’s easy to crank up the heat, but a better option is to keep the thermostat around 65 degrees and put on some extra layers. In the summer, you really don’t need to go any cooler than about 78 degrees. While that may sound high, when it’s 95 degrees outside your home will still feel cool inside. Using a fan or space heater can also save you big bucks when it comes to cooling or heating your home.
8. Shop for Food in Bulk
Purchasing your food in large quantities is a great way to save on grocery expenses. Get a Sam’s Club or Costco membership—or tag along with a friend who has one—and stock up on things like meat, flour, sugar, toilet paper, etc. Freeze what you don’t need right away and plan out how to use the rest for future meals.
9. Deep Freeze
If you buy in bulk, you’ll want a place to keep your food purchases. Consider investing in a deep freezer to store meat, butter, milk, and other items that can be frozen. Some people prefer to visit a butcher once a year to stock up on a whole pig or half a cow so they have meat throughout the year. If you enjoy hunting, a deep freezer is a great place to store deer meat as well.
10. Meal Prep
This is such a great frugal living idea! Make a large quantity of food and portion it out in Tupperware or plastic containers so you have food for lunches and dinners throughout the week. This takes a little bit of extra planning, but will also help you avoid grabbing lunches on the go because you already have a meal prepared.
11. Keep Your Home Clean
When you have a clean house it’s easier to find things you need, stay organized, and cheaper to clean in the long run. If you let your home get too dirty, you will need more tools and cleaners to tackle the accumulated grime. Also, a clean home means you will stay healthier and won’t spend as much money on doctor visits throughout the year.
Another tip is to use alternatives to expensive cleaning products. Believe it or not, there are ingredients in your pantry that make great cleaners. You can make your own cleaning solutions using lemon, vinegar, baking soda, coke, and other common household ingredients. For ideas on how to make your own household cleaners, read this article.
12. Cut Cable
With all the online streaming services available today, cable really isn’t a necessity. One of the best frugal living tips is to cancel your cable service and get Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime if you really need entertainment in your home. Keep in mind that you don’t need all of them. Just choose the one that you like the most and save yourself some money. If you’re really looking to save, you can opt to forgo the TV entirely and read a book from the library instead.
13. Buy Secondhand Clothing
Secondhand clothing can save you a lot of money, especially if you have children who outgrow their clothes every other month. You might have to hunt around a bit more to find things you like, but the savings really add up for this frugal living idea.
14. Thrift Your Furniture
Despite what Instagram or Pinterest would have you believe, you don’t need brand new furniture in your home. Purchase older, unique pieces from thrift stores or garage sales and refinish or repurpose them. Not only will you learn a new skill, but you will also create one-of-a-kind pieces to use in your own home.
15. Drink Water
Soda pop, juice, and alcohol taste great, but over time they can really eat into your budget. You’ll save money and be healthier by switching to tap water. Follow this frugal living idea and get yourself a good water bottle to encourage yourself to drink more. Limit other drinks to one or two on the weekend. If you really can’t stand tap water, get yourself a water filter pitcher. You can also use fruit and flavor packets to switch up the taste. After a few weeks, you’ll be surprised how drinking more water will save you money in the long run.
If you have space around your home, grow a vegetable garden so you don’t have to purchase them at the store. You can save a lot of money by growing some of your own food, and you may just learn a new skill in the process. No to mention, garden-fresh vegetables tend to taste better and have better quality than store-bought produce.
You don’t have to be a professional to start your own produce garden. Check out this gardening guide for beginners for some great pointers and tips.
17. Don’t Use as Much
You can also save money by simply using less of anything you have. Food? Pay attention to the serving sizes and stick with it. Shampoo? Use only what you really need to get your hair clean. Conserving what you do have is another small step towards living a more frugal life.
18. No Impulse Buys
You might be tired of fixing the car or watching TV on a tiny laptop screen, but that doesn’t’ mean you should throw in the towel and go purchase a new car or a 55” flat screen tomorrow. Consider large purchases carefully, and if you still want them after a month, start saving for them so you don’t have to pay extra by financing the purchase. Also look for opportunities during holiday sales and specials to buy large purchases at a lower cost.
19. Lose the Car or Use It Less
Depending on where you live, you might find that you can get by just fine without a vehicle. Try using the bus, walking, or riding your bike to get around. If you can’t go without a vehicle, plan your trip to work, the grocery store, and the gym so you don’t have to make multiple trips and waste gas. Looking for opportunities to carpool with others is another great way to save on gas money.
20. Find Free or Cheap Fun
Doing fun things doesn’t always mean you have to spend a lot of money to do them. Another great frugal living idea is to find free or cheap things to do in your area. Some cities have outdoor movies or concerts they sponsor for free. You can also go to the movies on discount movie nights or make your own fun at home.
Here are some other fun activities that you can do for cheap:
- Visit a park
- Find a “U-Pick” spot to pick some fresh fruit
- Go to the beach
- Visit a library
- Take a hike
- Go on a bike ride
There are endless choices for entertainment that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. If you’d like some more ideas, check out these 47 cheap things that you can do for fun.
Remember, learning how to live frugally and save money doesn’t mean you are cheap. It simply gives you more freedom to use your money how you want. If you like to travel you can save extra money to see the world or put aside a secure emergency fund. Despite our best efforts to live frugally, sometimes we still need a little extra cash to help us get by. If you need a boost to get you started, consider a personal loan. Lift Credit offers loans in Utah, Wisconsin, and Idaho so you can get back on your feet and on your way to a frugal life. Apply for a personal loan today and start implementing our frugal living ideas in your life.
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