Linda has a B.S. in Accounting and Business and has always been interested in budgeting and personal finance and entrepreneurship.
Many people are strapped for cash and looking for ways to save money. I, for one, have been out of a steady job for a couple of years and have been looking for ways to spend less and live on as little as possible. Seniors on fixed incomes to families just starting out to those who just want more money to travel are looking for ways to save money on everything. The following frugal living tips will help everyone do just that. Not everyone will be able to put them all to use, but using just a few could make a big difference in your spending and saving patterns.
What Does Frugal Mean?
A frugal person is careful with their resources and avoids unnecessary spending. This person is thrifty and knows how to live on a scant amount of money. Some are called stingy, but most just know how to get the most for their time and resources.
Not everyone who is frugal is poor. Some people just enjoy the rush of seeking and finding treasures for next to nothing. They take pride in living frugally and saving for a future endeavor. They refuse to be beholden to the banks or anyone. Every frugal person knows there is a sense of freedom in this lifestyle. Less stuff means less bills and more savings. The tiny house movement took off with this mentality.
10 Frugal Living Tips
1. Thrift stores and garage sales should be a regular shopping trip for you. Thrift stores are loaded with brand name clothing, furniture, appliances, and lots more for a fraction of the cost. Yes, they are used and the clothing pre-worn, but most thrift stores will not sell anything that is ripped or broken. Many even have return policies if you find it so after you get it home. I have saved a lot of money buying clothing at these places. I have bought nice designer fashion like Ralph Lauren, Patagonia, Isaac Mizrahi, Oscar de la Renta and more for less than $10. Many for less than a dollar when I find a good sale. Many thrift stores run regular sales, so like their Facebook page or get on an email list if they have it. Some have senior discounts on certain days or tag sales where certain tag colors are .98. You would be surprised what you can find. Same with garage sales or even estate sales. Many people may not realize the value of their stuff. But you might! Don't discount these places just because they are used.
2. Invest in a deep or chest freezer. With one of these on hand you can stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables when they are on sale. Meat is very expensive in the grocery store, but with a chest freezer you can buy a half a cow or a whole pig and store it. It is much cheaper buying it this way and you will have beef and pork dinners for a while. You can buy other meats in bulk too when you find sales. A chest freezer will pay for itself over a short amount of time.
3. Couponing is something everyone can do. It takes a little bit of time to search and clip them out, but the savings can be tremendous if your grocery store has double or triple coupons. Many pharmacies accept them too. Coupons can be found in your Sunday newspaper or online. There are couponing clubs where people exchange their unwanted coupons for other people's unwanted coupons. My former workplace had a box where people could drop off their unwanted coupons and pick up ones they wanted. If your workplace doesn't have something like this, look into starting one. You will all be helping one another. One caveat to couponing is to not buy things just because you have a coupon. Make sure it is something you will use before the expiration date. The coupon exchanges and clubs will help as you will have someplace to unload your unwanted coupons and pick up the ones you will use.
4. Plant a garden. I realize not everyone has the space, but even a window garden of herbs and spices could save you money. Fresh herbs are much better tasting than its store-bought counterpart which is very expensive. If you have a patio or deck you can plant certain vegetables in containers. If you wind up with too many to eat before spoiling, share them with your neighbors, or better yet learn to can them. It takes work, but no one said being frugal was always easy. You can get great satisfaction from doing it yourself and knowing how much you save. If you have even a small yard, you can plant all kinds of produce.
5. Cut the cord on cable television. My bill was well over $100 at one point. Now I just pay for internet service. I have an antennae for local channels, a Blue-ray DVD player with wifi, and Netflix and Hulu for all the on demand shows and movies I want. My price is now less than half of what it was. An antennae may not be feasible for those who live far from the city, but you can always get the local channel package, which will still save money.
6. Save on transportation. If you live and work in a city, riding a bicycle or public transportation will be far cheaper than owning a car. The cost of parking, repairs, and gas, not to mention expensive car insurance is phenomenal. For those occasions you might need a car, try Zipcar. A low monthly fee and hourly rates can get you a car for those trips when you need it. Carpooling is a great way to save on gas also. If you must have a car, go with the smallest model with the best gas mileage. Gas and many repairs will be cheaper. Every little bit of savings helps.
7. If you are 50, join AARP. The $16 a year membership fee (as of 2017) is more than worth it. You can save at restaurants, car rentals, movie theaters, shopping malls, and the list goes on. Check out their website for all the discounts you can enjoy. They even have partnerships to save on eye glasses, car insurance, life insurance, and supplemental medical plans. Join today!
8. Whenever shopping for anything, wait for the sales. This is especially true for high priced items such as cars, appliances, and tech gadgets. Most items have a certain time of year when they will have a deep discount. Air conditioners are cheapest off season in the winter. Major appliances are priced lowest during September and October when stores need to make room for the latest models. According to Investopedia the best time to buy a new or used car is from December through February when people are spending most of their money elsewhere for the holidays. A search on the internet at any time can show you where the best deals are at that particular time.
9. When buying a house or renting an apartment, look for a place with just the right amount of room. How many bedrooms or bathrooms do you really need? The less you can live with the cheaper the rent or mortgage as well as the heating and cooling bills. Before you move, downsize. Go through your stuff to see what you use and don't. There are many charities and thrift stores that will take your used goods of all kinds. Certain things you could sell via Craigslist, eBay, or Facebook Yard Sales Groups for your area. The less stuff you have the less space you need. I'm in the process of doing this right now as I am moving to a smaller cheaper apartment in October. It is a lot of work, but it is making me feel real good.
10. Start making meals yourself. You can save a bundle by not buying prepared foods. You will also be able to control the sugar and fat in your recipes and that will keep you healthy. Sick people spend more on doctor visits and medications, not to mention lost time at work. If you are strapped for time during the week, spend a couple hours on the weekend preparing meals for the week or beyond. Use that deep freezer mentioned earlier to store it. If you eat a lot of baked goods (I can't do without chocolate chip cookies), make them yourself. It really is not that hard.
These tips only skim the surface on ways to be frugal. Whole books are written on the subject. As I said at the beginning, you do not have to put all of them to use; just a couple will help you save something. So what will you do with all your savings? Unfortunately for me, it is just paying bills until I can get a regular income.
Great Tips for Anyone
Janisa from Earth on August 19, 2018:
I agree with all these tips!
Making meals yourself is probably one that I wish I did more. Homemade cakes, sandwiches and everything else are so much better, but I'm often too lazy to spend time cooking something and buy some cake or a dessert bar or even lunch and then get disappointed by the taste.
Thanks for sharing!
Linda Courtney (author) from Bloomsburg, PA on August 23, 2017:
Kerstin, look for one with an good energy-efficient rating and you would save. Just make good use of it. Thanks for your comment.
Kierstin Gunsberg from Traverse City, Michigan on August 23, 2017:
My husband and I keep talking about getting a chest freezer to save by freezing meals and stocking up on sales but I was wondering if they cost much in electricity and if the "savings" is really worth it. Does anyone know?
Linda Courtney (author) from Bloomsburg, PA on August 16, 2017:
You are welcome.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 15, 2017:
You've included a lot of good tips for frugal living in this article, Linda. You've given me some new ideas for saving money. Thanks for sharing your suggestions.