Frugal living is 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.
50+ Best Frugal Living Tips
Learning to live frugally can save you thousands (or more) dollars every year, but it can take some practice to learn how to make frugal choices.
This huge list of more than 50 frugal living hacks teaches 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 frugality doesn’t necessarily equal environmentally friendly, many believe 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 upfront, 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 still use a disposable plastic bottle, try rinsing it and refilling it a few times. You can get many uses out of them, and don’t forget to recycle when tossing them.
3. Don’t Waste Water
If you find a bottle or cup with water around sitting in your house or car, don’t waste it. Pour it into a plant, pet dish (although if it’s old, don’t give it to Fido either), or pour it in your coffee maker.
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. If you can’t find a new purpose, recycle the item.
Tips To Reduce Waste
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. Practice Zero Food Waste
This can make a considerable difference in your bottom line. 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.
7. 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 planning your meals, as this will help with zero food waste and ensure you’re using up all of the food in your fridge.
8. 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.
READ MORE: 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.
9. Use Cashback Apps When Shopping Online
Using cashback apps is a great way to save money on purchases you were already planning to make. These apps will reward you will cashback for making everyday purchases online and in-store.
10. Use Coupon Codes
Always check for a coupon code when shopping online. You can often find codes on the retailer’s website. You can also try downloading its app or joining its email list.
11. Shop at Discount Stores
You can score huge deals at discount stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls, but it’s easy to go overboard, especially if you’re a sucker for a good deal. Try shopping with cash and setting a specific budget beforehand if you’re easily “triggered” in these stores.
12. Shop Second Hand
Not a thrift store fan? There is a huge online thrift market where you can buy and sell used (or new) clothes and save a substantial amount of money when sprucing up your wardrobe. Sites like Mercari, Poshmark, and eBay, all offer a large selection with great prices.
13. 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, and stack on a cashback offer from your favorite cashback app.
14. Cut Back on Kids’ Clothing and Shoes
Cut back on purchasing new clothing and shoes for your kids to save money. Instead of buying a pair of shoes for every possible occasion, 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, look at what products and services you pay for, and you’ll find opportunities to DIY and save money.
15. Do Your Own Yard Work
Cutting grass, power washing, and landscaping can be back-breaking work. But you can also save a good amount of money if skip hiring someone and do it yourself.
16. Cut Your Own Hair
You can learn to cut your own hair or your kids’ hair by spending some time watching tutorial videos on YouTube. You can also purchase affordable haircutting supplies from Amazon or a local beauty supply store and save hundreds on salon visits.
17. Do Your Own Nails
You can learn to DIY your manicures and pedicures in the same manner. YouTube has a ton of tutorial videos teaching you how to do your nails in any way you can imagine. Purchase a nail kit on Amazon and it will pay for itself in just one application.
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.
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 Economics in school? At the risk of being redundant…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. Plus, you likely already have a few of the necessary ingredients on-hand.
21. Make Coffee at Home
No, skipping your fancy coffee won’t necessarily make you a millionaire; however, $3, $4, or $5 daily, or even a few times a week, definitely adds up. You can pickup all the ingredients you need and find copycat recipes for your favorite latte online and save your Starbucks runs for special occasions.
Tips To Save Money on Groceries
Food is often one of the biggest expenses for most families. But, while it’s a large expense, it’s also one of the expenses you can most easily cut by making a few changes in the way 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 of dollars yearly! Brown bag it and save buying lunch for special occasions.
23. Grocery Shop Online
Online grocery shopping is the best thing since sliced bread. 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.
25. Buy Generic
Many people have strong opinions on generic items, especially food. But switching your favorite brands out for store brands will greatly decrease your food bill. If you have an aversion to generics, try giving yourself a blind taste test to determine if you can taste the difference.
While there may be a few exceptions (we’re looking at you, PopTarts), most generics taste just 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) private label 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.
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. Typically, you can 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.
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, use your points to “purchase” gift cards directly through your credit card company. Sometimes they even offer discounted gift cards.
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!
32. Swap Services With Friends
Are you friends with any massage therapists, bakers, nannies, 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 shorted.
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 to 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 community involvement 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 drink 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, or cheer on your favorite team.
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, and appetizers, and everyone can share in the cost.
READ MORE: 21 Budget Grocery Shopping Tips to Stretch Your Food Budget
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
Cut down on your utility bills by waiting longer in the seasons to begin using your heating or air conditioning. Set your thermostat higher or lower and let your body acclimate to temps depending on the season.
40. Use a Programmable Thermostat
Purchasing a programmable thermostat would definitely be worth your investment. If a programmable thermostat is not an option for you, be sure to adjust the temperature before you leave the house for the day and before going to bed.
41. Kick Cable to the Curb
Cut. The. Cord. There are so many options now to replace cable, and yes, many even include sports packages. You can find all the channels you know and love at a fraction of the cost – check out these free streaming services.
42. Hang Your Wash Out To Dry
Cut utility costs 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 in the process.
44. Carpool With Neighbors
Ask friends and neighbors to carpool to school, sports, or other activities.
Spare yourself from running around each night to get everyone where they need to be. Create a weekly schedule to save everyone time and reduce 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. 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.
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? Driving used cars instead of brand new means you don’t lose all the money from depreciation. Take your time when car shopping and find a ‘new to you’ car for a great deal.
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. Another option is to split the difference. Raid your change jar and swing by a DIY carwash. Not as cheap as doing it at home, but much cheaper than going to a drive-thru car wash.
48. Do Your Own Maintenance
Try handling the 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 and brakes or fix a flat tire.
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
Changing your own oil is another skill you can easily master. Ask someone to show you how, learn yourself online, or swap services with a mechanic friend. Snag some bulk oil next time you visit your warehouse club to lower the cost of supplies.
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 replace them as often.
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, you shouldn’t do it just to please someone else. The plus is that the more you say “no,” the easier it gets.
52. Track Your Expenses
Record every purchase you make for at least a month. This data will show exactly where your money is going. This will help you determine where you are overspending and where you may be able to cut costs. Use what you’ve learned to adjust your budget.
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.
55. Pay With Cash
Ask for a discount when paying in cash. Furniture stores, used car lots, contractors….many 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 price reductions 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.