Frugal living is all about living life in a manner where you are constantly looking to reduce your expenses and be purposeful in the way you choose to spend money. Learning how to live frugally can save you thousands (or more) of dollars every year, but it can take some practice to learn how to make frugal choices.
50+ Best Frugal Living Tips
This post has over 50 frugal living hacks to teach you how easy it can be to live frugally and intentionally. Some of these tips will save you some serious money, and some might only save you a few dollars, but those savings, compounded over time, can have a huge impact on your budget.
Tips To Reduce Consumption
While frugal doesn’t necessarily equal environmentally friendly, many think the two go hand-in-hand. These tips will help you be kinder to Mother Earth.
1. Use Refillable Water Bottles
Sure, this will cost you a few bucks, but you should be able to find a good deal at cheaper retailers like Amazon or Walmart. You’re reducing your plastic consumption, plus saving money.
2. Reuse Disposable Bottles
If you do still use a disposable plastic bottle, be sure to use it over and over. I keep mine for a few weeks, even washing it at times…you can get many uses out of them, and don’t forget to recycle when you’re finally ready to toss it.
3. Don’t Waste Water
If you find a bottle or cup with water in it around sitting in your house or car, don’t waste it! Pour it into a plant or a pet dish or use it to boil (think hard-boiled eggs).
Bring your own water. This is especially easy if you carry a purse or backpack around. Just keep a filled water bottle in your bag and skip buying a drink when grabbing a quick bite at a casual restaurant. Purchasing a bottle of water at these establishments will run you anywhere from $1-$3 (or more if you drink fancy water)…you could purchase an entire case for that amount.
5. Reuse, Repurpose, Upcycle
Next time you want to get rid of something, take a peek around your house and see if there is a way you can upcycle it. Not everything must be used for its original intended purpose; finding a new way to give life to your possessions is good for your wallet and the environment!
Tips To Reduce Waste Around the House
Buying things and letting them go to waste is basically throwing your money right in the trash! Here are some tips to help you reduce waste and ensure your money is being put to good use.
6. Reuse Paper Plates
If you use paper plates at home, don’t be afraid to reuse them if they’re not dirty. Often my kids will eat a piece of toast, the plate is completely clean, and they will throw it out. I toss the crumbs in the trash and reuse the plate. Just because something is technically disposable doesn’t mean it has to be wasteful.
7. Practice Zero Food Waste
This can make a considerable difference in your bottom line. Just a bit of planning and organizing can make a big difference in how much food waste you generate in your home. Get creative and make meals by “shopping your pantry and freezer” before heading out on your next grocery run.
8. Meal Plan
Meal planning is one of the biggest tools in your “saving money arsenal.” You can save literally hundreds of dollars each month by meal planning! Be sure to incorporate leftover nights when meal planning, as this will help with zero food waste and ensure you’re using up all of the food in your fridge.
9. Meal Prep
Taking some time to actually prep your food and meals ahead of time will not only save you time, but it will save you from swinging by the drive-thru on your way home because you don’t have time to cook dinner. Prep some of your meal or the entire meal ahead of time. All you have to do is heat it up, and you’re ready to eat.
ALSO READ: How to Save More Money This Year
Tips To Save When Shopping
Living frugally doesn’t mean never shopping; instead, it means being intentional with your money, focusing your spending more on needs rather than wants, and making sure you’re not overpaying.
10. Use Cashback Apps When Shopping Online
Rakuten sometimes gets a bad rap, but it’s awesome! Not only can you earn $30 for each friend you refer (and they get $30 in the process), but you can earn cash back when you shop online.
Here’s the key: only use Rakuten when you are already planning on making an online purchase anyway…if you’re already placing an order, you’d be silly not to first go to Rakuten and then navigate to the online store.
For example, if you’re ordering some clothing online at Old Navy, first go to Rakuten, then type “Old Navy” in the search bar; it will pop up. You click on Old Navy and shop + checkout as usual…you’re still shopping directly from Old Navy as you normally would, but you will now earn cash back on your purchase simply by going to Rakuten first – It’s a no-brainer.
11. Use Coupon Codes
Always check for a coupon code when shopping online. Often when visiting a website, a pop-up will appear on your screen offering a discount of some type, but if not, try searching on Google for a coupon code (although often you will find expired codes, so you might have to try a few different ones).
Another option is to join the store’s or brand’s email list. They will almost always offer a coupon or discount for signing up. But be careful here…once you’re on their list, they will send you lots of offers and discounts. If this causes you to spend unnecessarily, you’re likely better off avoiding this tip.
12. Shop at Discount Stores
I absolutely adore discount stores such as Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. I know for many years, people would snub these stores because the thought was that all the items were irregular or damaged in some way, but that’s not the case.
Over the years, they started receiving lots of perfectly good merchandise, oftentimes when the brands or bigger retailers would have extra inventory or even scoop up items when purchasing deals fall through. Plus, most times, the designer items are even current season.
You can score HUGE deals at these stores, but it’s easy to go overboard, especially if you’re a sucker for a good deal (like I am). Try shopping with cash and set a specific budget beforehand if you’re easily “triggered” in these types of stores.
13. Shop Second Hand
Can’t handle the thrift stores or consignment shops? No problem! There is a huge online thrift market where you can buy and sell used (or new) clothes and save a substantial amount of money (and/or earn money on the side in the process) when sprucing up your wardrobe. Sites like Mercari, eBay, and even Amazon all offer a great selection at great prices.
14. Stack Your Savings
Stack your savings by using the points you’ve earned on your credit card to purchase “on-sale” gift cards through your rewards program and use them to purchase items on sale in the store. Add a coupon for even more savings, plus order through Rakuten for cash back too.
15. Cut Back on Kids’ Clothing and Shoes
We realized how much of our children’s clothing and shoes were getting barely any use. That’s just wasted money.
We cut way back on these purchases to save money (and fight with our kids)! Instead of a pair of shoes for every possible occasion, we now try and find one type of shoe that can work for many different situations. The same goes for clothing. Kids usually like to wear the same thing over and over. Purchase those items in multiples and skip the rest; your wallet will thank you!
Tips To Save When You DIY
Frugal people don’t like paying someone to do things they can do themselves. When trying to save money, take a look at what products and services you pay for, and you’ll find opportunities to DIY and save money.
16. Cut Your Own Hair
I trim my own hair and my daughter’s hair in between trips to the hairdresser. I use what’s called the “unicorn method” I found it on YouTube one day when searching for tutorials on how to cut my own hair and my son’s hair (that was a fail, I stick with the girl cuts).
It’s super simple and foolproof. This saves me big bucks since my hair grows quickly, and it needs to be trimmed more often.
17. Do Your Own Nails
I also DIY my nails. I’ve had a big collection of polishes for years, but they never seemed to last. I’ve recently started giving myself a gel manicure, and they last so much longer, so I can go longer in between manicures.
I got this awesome kit, which had everything I needed to start giving myself my gel manicure. It takes a bit of practice and patience, but the kit cost me basically the same as ONE gel manicure in the salon, so even if my nails aren’t perfect, I love them because they save me so much money.
18. Do Your Own Home Improvements
Hiring a pro for every little job around the house can break the bank! Ask a friend or family member for help taking care of smaller maintenance and upkeep around your home. You can save thousands by doing your own lawn care and landscaping, plus it’s a great workout. Swap out filters, lighting fixtures, appliance parts, etc. Remember – YouTube is your friend.
Note: Be careful when working on bigger mechanical jobs (electric, plumbing, etc.). They can be dangerous if you’re not properly trained and might end up costing you more money in the long run if you have to hire someone to fix your mistakes. Look at each task individually before deciding if it’s something you want to tackle yourself.
19. Repair Your Own Clothing
Handling small clothing repairs yourself is also a money-saver. You can easily replace buttons, zippers and sew small holes. Didn’t take Home Ec in school? At the risk of repeating myself…check YouTube.
20. Make Your Own Cleaning Products
A quick search on Pinterest will give you hundreds of recipes for DIY cleaning products. Making your own cleaning products is also a great way to reduce the number of chemicals used in your home.
I’ll bet you probably have a few of the ingredients in your pantry already, such as a spray bottle and essential oils…remember, when making things yourself, you’ll often spend a bit more upfront to purchase all the necessary supplies, but it will pay off in the long run.
21. Make Coffee at Home
I’m sure you’ve heard of the latte factor before, so you probably already know how much fancy coffees can add up to each year. I make mine at home, and guess what? I prefer my DIY lattes to Starbucks. I buy my favorite flavored syrup, order my cold brew from Walmart Grocery Pickup, and making it myself allows me to better control what goes into my coffee.
Tips To Save Money on Groceries
Food is often one of the biggest expenses for most families, second to housing. Although it’s a large expense, it’s also one of the expenses you can most easily cut by making a few changes in how you shop for groceries.
22. Pack Your Lunch
Along with those leftovers, try doubling your dinners to cook larger portions, so you have enough to pack for lunch each day. Buying lunch daily for adults and/or children will add up to hundreds (at least) of dollars each year! Brown bag it and save buying lunch for special occasions.
23. Grocery Shop Online
Online grocery shopping is the best thing since sliced bread. Walmart grocery pickup is my favorite because the Walmart in my area is a hot mess. Using their grocery pickup service allows me to take advantage of their low prices (which sometimes even beat Aldi in my area) without actually having to step foot inside the store…genius.
If this isn’t yet available at your local Walmart, check out Instacart for stores in your area…and Instacart even delivers right to your door.
Food shopping online allows you to easily stick to your budget since you see a running tally of your total on the screen. Just “remove from cart” if you’re over budget, plus avoid all the impulse and hunger buys that inevitably occur while you’re grocery shopping.
24. Buy in Bulk
Another way to save money on your food/household bill is to buy in bulk at warehouse clubs such as Costco and Sam’s Club. Make sure you’re comparing costs accurately but looking at the cost per unit and not the overall cost.
Be intentional when shopping and only buy what you need – the prices on each item will be higher in warehouse clubs since you’re getting a large amount of said item, so your bill can climb quickly. Be sure to purchase only what you’ve budgeted for because the deals can be quite distracting.
25. Buy Generic
Many people have strong opinions on generic items, especially food. But switching your favorite brands out for the store brand will greatly decrease your food bill. If you have an aversion to generics, try giving yourself a blind taste test.
I bet you’ll find that most of the time, you can’t even tell the difference. While there may be a few exceptions (I’m looking at you, PopTarts), most generics taste as good as the brands you know and love with a much better price tag.
26. Shop at Discount Grocers
There is a common misperception that stores such as Aldi and Trader Joe’s only sell items that are generic or expired. This is simply not true. These stores are able to keep their prices so low by selling [mostly] their own line of items.
So, yes, most of what they sell is considered generic; however, they do carry some brand names, still at cheaper prices than your normal grocery store, plus they have awesome produce and a decent selection. I estimate that we were able to slash our grocery budget in half when we started shopping at Aldi regularly.
Tips To Save When Dining Out
Eating at home will save you a lot of money, but sometimes you just want someone else to cook for you. These tips will help you save money when eating out at restaurants.
27. Dine Where Kids Eat Free
A quick online search will tell you which local restaurants let kids eat for free. You usually are able to get one free kid’s meal per adult entree purchased, but the rules will vary per restaurant. Don’t forget to stack your savings using coupon codes and free gift cards you earn from Ibotta.
28. Use Applicable Discounts
Don’t forget to look for other discounts you may qualify for…are you a senior citizen? Are you a veteran? A student? There are many types of discounts available; just ask!
29. Use Credit Card Points for Free Gift Cards
If you are a responsible credit card user and accrue points, you can usually use those toward “purchasing” gift cards directly through your credit card company.
Sometimes they even have cards offered at a discount. If you really love going out to eat but it doesn’t fit in your budget, use those points to purchase gift cards for your favorite restaurant (you will likely only find chain restaurants this way) and dine for free.
Tips To Reduce General Spending
It’s unreasonable to think you will never spend money on anything. You’re going to spend, but being frugal also means being resourceful and cutting spending where possible. Check out these tips to help you save money on miscellaneous expenses.
30. Share Accounts
These days it seems we all have at least a few subscriptions; talk it over with some of your family or friends and see if anyone wants to share services with you. For example, one family member pays for Amazon Prime, and one family member pays for Netflix.
31. Listen to Audiobooks for Free
If you prefer digital or audiobooks did you know there are free apps that connect with your library membership where you can “borrow” digital books, audiobooks, and even movies…all you need is to connect it to your library card. Check out Hoopla, Overdrive, and Libby, and start reading for free!
One thing to note is some of the apps add you to a waitlist when the book is already “checked out,” and they can be lengthy for popular titles. In addition, while they have large selections, they are still limited.
I often can’t find books I’m looking for…if this is an issue for you, check out a free trial with Audible where you’ll get two free audiobooks for signing up (ps. you can cancel before your account is charged if you don’t like the service).
32. Swap Services With Friends
Are you friends with any massage therapists, bakers, etc.? Do you have any skills you can share with others? Try swapping services instead of paying someone else. You and your friend can each save money, but be sure services are of a similar value so no one feels like they are being shorted. This is a great way to save on babysitting costs too.
33. Use Your Local Library
Did you know libraries aren’t just for books anymore?! You can use their computers, printers, and wi-fi. Most now offer a huge selection of books on disc, perfect for long commutes, and free programs for kids, plus membership is also free.
Tips To Save Money on Entertainment
Saving money can be hard work; sometimes, you just want to cut loose and have fun. Entertainment is a category that is easy to cut. Check out these tips to have more fun on a budget.
34. Stay Home
This might sound simple, but it’s one of the best tips on the list. Just stay at home. If you’re not the “staying home” type, brainstorm ways you can enjoy being in your house.
35. Find Free Entertainment
Listen to local radio stations or research online, and you will find many free community events. This is a great way to get more involved in your community and save money.
36. Use Coupon Sites
In addition, check out discount sites such as Groupon and Social Living for discounted gift certificates and local events. Just search by zip code to find available offers in your area.
37. Entertain Friends at Home
Love going out for drinks with friends? Swing by the liquor store and drinking at home instead. You can buy an entire bottle of booze for the price of only one or two drinks at a bar or restaurant?!?! Ask your friends to bring the mixers and have craft cocktails outside by the fire pit while you celebrate all the money you’re saving.
38. Make it a Potluck
When hosting guests for parties or holidays, make it potluck style. Ask each guest to bring a dish, side, or dessert so you aren’t footing the bill for the entire shindig. As the host, you can provide the serving ware, drinks, etc., and everyone can share in the cost.
Tips To Save Money on Utilities
Utilities are priority expenses. If you are coming up short each month, you have to make sure you pay your utilities, so your lights don’t get shut off. You can’t cut these expenses altogether, but there are ways you can make changes to see substantial savings in your monthly utility bills.
39. Get Used to More Extreme Temps
Another way to cut down on your utility bills is by waiting longer in the seasons to begin using your heating/air conditioning. Set temps higher or lower and let your body acclimate to colder/warmer temps depending on the season.
40. Use a Programmable Thermostat
Purchasing a programmable thermostat would definitely be worth your investment…or be sure to adjust the temp before you leave the house for the day.
Doing so could save you up to 10% on your heating/air conditioning bills.
41. Kick Cable to the Curb
Cut. The. Cord. I would have no cable if it weren’t for my husband. We have a very affordable package now, but when paying off debt, we got rid of cable for two years…and we survived.
There are so many options now to replace cable, and I know the sports packages are a concern for many. SlingTV will give you a cable-like experience with many of the channels you know and love (including some sports) at a fraction of the cost, or check out these free streaming options.
42. Hang Your Wash Out To Dry
Cut utilities by using your dryer less. String a line outside and hang your clothes to dry…if you’re in a warmer climate, you can save even more since you can hang your clothes out year-round.
43. Use Appliances at Lower Usage Rate Times
Depending on your utility company and plan, you may be charged different rates at different times of the day. Review your bill or contact your provider to check for the lower rate times and save money on your monthly utility bills while doing your laundry and running your dishwasher during the low-rate timeframes.
Tips To Save Money on Gas
We all know about those volatile fuel prices. These tips will help you fill up your tank less often and save time (which is our most valuable resource) in the process.
44. Carpool With Neighbors
Ask friends and neighbors to carpool to school, sports, or other activities.
Spare yourself from having to run around each night to get everyone where they need to be. Create a weekly schedule to save everyone time and lower gas costs.
45. Bundle Your Errands
Try bundling your errands and appointments to save money on gas and save time, especially if you live far from town.
Instead of running into town multiple times each week and wasting the gas, you’ll also free up the extra driving time, which could be put towards other things you need to accomplish that week.
Try picking a specific day of the week and be intentional about scheduling all appointments on that day each time and running your errands while you’re already out.
Bonus Tip: Bring snacks and drinks for yourself and any kids who may be along for the ride to avoid hangry meltdowns.
Tips To Save Money on Vehicles
Owning and operating cars is a huge, yet necessary, expense for most people, but there are ways to keep costs lower while still being able to get from here to there.
46. Drive Used Cars
Do you have a car payment? Do you know that it’s possible to drive a car without a car payment?
We thought we would always have a car payment, but now we have zero. We paid off both car loans and hope to drive them until the wheels fall off, and when they do, we will purchase a “new to us” vehicle.
Driving used cars instead of brand new means you don’t lose all the money from depreciation.
47. Wash Your Own Car
Car washes are awesome, but they sure can be pricey…want hot wax with that?
Do it yourself instead. All it takes is some soap and a sponge, and some time.
Bonus Tip: Kids love to wash cars; pick a hot day and turn it into a hose fight for free entertainment!
48. Do Your Own Maintenance
Try doing the smaller, more routine vehicle maintenance yourself, and you will be shocked by how much money you save. In addition to changing your own oil, you can switch out your wiper blades or brakes too.
Don’t have a friend to help? Check out YouTube…it’s such a valuable resource where you can learn how to do anything these days.
49. Change Your Own Oil
My husband has saved us hundreds of dollars over the past few years by learning how to change the oil in our vehicles.
He didn’t know how, so he asked a friend to show him. He went over and learned from his friend, bought a couple of key supplies, and voila, he’s been taking care of it himself ever since.
Tips for Living Frugally
There are some common characteristics that frugal people seem to share. These tips aren’t about any one specific category, just some basic tips to live frugally and save money in your everyday lives.
50. Take Good Care of Your Possessions
This tip probably speaks for itself, but taking good care of your possessions will greatly increase their life, meaning you will save money by not having to buy a new one every so often.
I have a pair of boots I’ve been wearing for over 14 years now…talk about getting your money’s worth.
51. Learn to Say “No”
This is tough. If you’re a people pleaser, saying “no” can be a struggle.
It’s hard to feel like you’re letting people down, but if saying “yes” does not support your current financial goals, then you shouldn’t do it just to please someone else. The more you say no, the easier it gets
52. Track Your Expenses
Take some time to record every purchase you make for a specific amount of time (I recommend a month). This data will show you where your money is going each month; then, you’ll determine where you are overspending and where you may be able to cut costs.
53. Purchase Early for a Discount
Take advantage of early-bird discounts.
Conferences, summer camps, pool memberships, and more usually offer discounts when you pay and register early in the season.
Start a sinking fund and save year-round so you’ll have the full amount ready to get the worm (get it?)…er, discount!
54. Pay in Full
Oftentimes, larger bills can be broken down and paid in installments, but what many people don’t realize is more often than not, an extra fee is then tacked onto the bill called an installment fee.
This can be a small nominal amount or a percentage of the total. Either way, pay in full to avoid incurring any additional fees.
Again, start a sinking fund (we do this for our auto insurance bill) and save for that particular expense over a period of time so when the bill comes due, you’re able to pay in full!
55. Pay With Cash
The last tip is to ask for a discount when paying in cash. This is so simple, yet most of us don’t do this.
Furniture, used cars, contractors….most of these places will give you a discount if you pay in cash…but you have to ask.
Put your pride aside and ask if they offer any type of price reduction to cash buyers. And remember, the worst they can do is say “no.”
There are so many ways to save money, and the small choices you make daily can add up to huge savings by the end of the year.
This article was produced and syndicated by Cents + Purpose.
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Kristin Stones is the owner of Cents + Purpose, an online community dedicated to sharing practical personal finance content. Her mission is to equip women with the necessary tools and knowledge to take back control of their money and live a more purposeful life. She creates actionable content to help her audience achieve financial wellness using her simple approach to managing money - all learned through her personal experience of paying off almost $55,000 of debt in under two years.