Articles, Budgeting, Finance, Spend Less

The Perfect Frugal Living Tips Don’t Exi-

Embrace Frugality, Enhance Your Savings: Simple Steps to Financial Freedom
Written By: Rick Orford
Reviewed by: Mike Reyes
Last Updated February 29, 2024

This content is not intended to provide financial advice; rather, it’s for information and entertainment purposes only.

Always consult a licensed advisor for investment decisions.

Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on a link, the affiliate may provide compensation to this site at no cost to you, regardless if you decide to purchase something. You can read our affiliate disclosure in our privacy policy.

Finally, this article has been written, reviewed, and fact-checked. Portions of this article have been written using assistive AI tools to help with tasks like research, spell-checking, grammar, and translation. Please have a look at our editorial guidelines for more information about how we create content.

Key Takeaways:

  • Reject unnecessary expenses to stay within budget.
  • Utilize loyalty programs and coupons for savings.
  • Set a strict personal spending allowance to manage discretionary expenses efficiently.
an image depicting frugal living tips

Discovering the art of frugality has been a game-changer for me, revealing that true financial freedom isn’t about how much you earn but how wisely you manage and spend your wealth. It’s a universal truth that transcends income brackets: unless you’re spending less than you make, you’re essentially running in place, financially speaking.

It doesn’t matter if you make $50,000 a year or $150,000 a year; Unless you spend less than you earn, you’ll never get ahead.

Rick Orford

Adopting a frugal lifestyle lets you save by getting freebies and using secondhand products or coupons. It helps you use your money on things you value most: living debt-free, saving for retirement, and investing in yourself. So, to start living frugally, these are some tricks that you can use to save money.

Let’s get started:

Live Frugal By Saying “NO” To Unnecessary Expenses

Some habits are good, others not so much. Spending on frivolous items is not a good habit to have. Indeed, unnecessary expenses will drain your budget faster than a speeding bullet. For example, wasting time and buying useless stuff at the mall might make you feel better quickly. But it drains the budget.

If you want to start implementing a frugal lifestyle, consider alternatives. If you like to waste time at the mall, consider walking in the park. Or, look at more affordable activities. For example, you can meet friends at an inexpensive restaurant or park and hang out together. Whatever you do, ensure that the activities you’re engaging in are budget-friendly and well-planned. That way, you won’t have to drain your savings when those opportunities come around

#20 Focus on Health and Wellness

The old adage “put your mask on first before helping others” is relevant to many areas of life.

For example, by taking charge of my health and wellness with a proactive stance, I am fully aware that my habits today will shape my well-being and financial health in the future. I integrate regular exercise into my daily routine, not as a chore but as a celebration of what my body can do. Actually, I love those climbs up a mountain, and these days I time the ascent. The faster I get, the better in shape I am.

And it doesn’t end there. Whether it’s a brisk morning walk, a yoga session, or a bike ride through the park, I always feel better. This shift not only boosted my physical health but also my mental clarity and energy levels.

Equally, I overhauled my diet, choosing nutrient-rich foods over processed options. While not a vegetarian, I learned to cook simple, plant-based meals, discovering that healthy food can taste good (who knew) and truly nourish.

Alongside these lifestyle changes, don’t neglect preventive healthcare. Regular check-ups, vaccinations, and screenings became markers of self-care, ensuring small issues were caught before turning into larger, costlier problems. This holistic approach to health and wellness has empowered me to take control of my life in a sustainable, joy-filled way, sidestepping the pitfalls of neglect that lead to high medical bills and compromised quality of life.

#19 Embrace Free Entertainment and Resources

I turned a new leaf in my lifestyle by tapping into the wealth of free entertainment and resources available, a decision that has enriched my life without denting my wallet. My journey began when I realized how much I was spending on movies, books, and leisure activities that were readily available at no cost. I started frequenting my local library, where I discovered not just books, but movies, magazines, and even access to digital resources and workshops. It was a revelation to find so much value in a place I had overlooked for years.

Then, I explored the outdoors, embracing hikes in nearby parks and attending free community events that offered a chance to socialize, learn, and enjoy without spending a penny. I also delved into the digital world of free online courses, which allowed me to expand my skills and knowledge on topics ranging from photography to financial literacy. This shift to seeking out free entertainment and resources has not only saved me money but has also broadened my perspectives and introduced me to hobbies and interests I never knew I had. It’s a testament to the abundance of experiences that await when we look beyond the price tag.

#18 Invest in Quality over Quantity

I made a pivotal shift in my purchasing habits by embracing investing in quality over quantity. This decision came after years of buying cheaper, lower-quality items that quickly wore out or became obsolete, leading to a cycle of constant replacements and dissatisfaction. I realized that opting for high-quality items, although pricier upfront, actually saved me money and frustration in the long run.

My first deliberate choice was a well-crafted, durable backpack (made by Timberland) for my daily commute. Unlike the last one, this backpack weathers daily use and travel without a hitch, its fabric and seams holding strong where others had frayed and split.

This approach soon extended to all aspects of my life, from clothing to appliances. Each purchase is a thoughtful decision, focusing on the longevity and performance of the item rather than just the price tag. I noticed a significant decrease in the need to replace items, and my living space became less cluttered with things I barely used.

#17 Learn to DIY it!

I’ve discovered a profound sense of fulfillment and empowerment by diving into DIY projects. It began with the decision to take control of my living environment, to mold it with my hands and imagination. Starting small, I tackled a worn-out chair that needed a new lease on life. I transformed it into a vibrant decor piece with sandpaper, paint, and a vision. Each project that followed, from creating custom shelving to refreshing the wall colors in my bedroom, saved me money and infused my space with personal significance.

The process of learning and doing it myself became addictive. I actively sought out new challenges, learning to lay tile for a kitchen backsplash and even rewiring a vintage lamp. The more I accomplished, the more confident I became in my abilities. These projects did more than just beautify my home; they taught me resilience, patience, and the joy of hands-on creation. The satisfaction of sitting back and seeing the tangible results of my efforts is incomparable. Through DIY, I’ve transformed my home and developed a deep-seated belief in my ability to tackle challenges and bring creative visions to life.

#16 Use Public Transportation or Carpool

When I decided to use public transportation and carpooling, my daily commutes transformed from solitary drives into opportunities for connection, cost savings, and even adventure. Initially, the switch was driven by a desire to reduce my personal expenses and carbon footprint. I was apprehensive at first, worried about the convenience and time. But as I worked out the schedules of buses and trains, I found a rhythm that worked surprisingly well for my routine.

Sharing rides with colleagues makes the journey more enjoyable and fosters a sense of community I hadn’t expected. We shared stories, debated ideas, and sometimes, just enjoyed the silence together as we moved through the city.

Carpooling also expanded my social circle, introducing me to people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. The financial benefits were immediately apparent as well. Splitting the cost of gas and tolls significantly reduces my monthly commuting expenses.

Moreover, adopting public transportation allows me to have less stress than driving in heavy traffic, granting me unexpected pockets of time to read, reflect, or catch up on work. This shift in my daily commute didn’t just save me money; it enriched my life in ways I hadn’t anticipated, making every journey an experience rather than just a means to an end.

#15 Reduce Utility Costs

I’ve always been looking for ways to trim my monthly expenses and one area where I found significant savings was in reducing my utility costs. It began with a simple realization: every little bit of energy or water I didn’t use helped the environment and kept my wallet a bit fuller. So, I started with the basics – turning off lights when I left a room, fixing leaky faucets immediately, and ensuring my home was well-insulated to prevent heat from escaping during the winter and keeping it cool in the summer without over-relying on heating and air conditioning.

My journey didn’t stop there. I invested in energy-efficient appliances, which, despite the initial cost, have proven to be a wise decision in the long run. I swapped out old light bulbs for LED ones, installed low-flow showerheads, and began using smart power strips to combat energy vampires. And finally, I also habitually unplug devices when they aren’t in use.

Over time, these small changes added up, significantly reducing my monthly utility bills. It was empowering to see how my actions could lead to substantial savings, and it became a game to see how much lower I could get my bills with each passing month.

#14: Take Advantage of Available Loyalty Programs

Many people may think using coupons will somehow make them a cheapskate. But who cares? Using coupons or store loyalty programs is a great way to save money and build loyalty simultaneously.

Many grocery stores have recently offered digital coupons delivered through an app or email that you can use at the store. I get mine through the store’s app. Some even reward their patron’s free goods and discounts. For example, I just received a $10 coupon from my local grocery store by email. And yes, I certainly did take advantage of it!

#13: Consider Renting Over Buying

Sometimes, you have to look your best, but only briefly. For example, say you’re attending a wedding. In this case, consider renting your tuxedo rather than buying it. I rented a suit for my brother’s wedding because I knew I’d only use it once. It cost only $97.50. And these types of formal clothes are expensive, so why buy them if you don’t wear them often? If you’re worried about size, don’t forget the tuxedo rental companies will tailor the outfit for you before delivery.

You can also rent other things like handbags, jewelry, or camera gear online. Doing so will save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars annually.

#12: Start a Wish List

Have you ever received gifts that you either gave away to someone else or returned for something else? Did you know 34% of gifts get returned to the store? Indeed, it’s because friends or relatives have no idea what you like or dislike. For example, a friend may buy you the latest video game. But you don’t like it, or already have it.

For this frugal living tip, consider starting a wishlist. Sites like Amazon allow consumers to invite friends and family to see your wishlist at their discretion. Then, they can buy you something from your list.

Friends and family may not understand your money-saving goals, so letting them know what you like is a creative way to avoid unnecessary spending.

#11: Track Your Expenses

A Millennial Working on their frugal living budget spreadsheet

If you want to save money, knowing where you spend your money is critical. With this frugal living tip, consider tracking your last three months’ expenses on a budget spreadsheet. Then, you’ll have a clearer idea of where you can cut.

Tracking your money doesn’t have to get complicated. For example, there are apps available that help you track your income and expenses, such as Wally or Mint.

When starting, I know it might seem like a hassle to stick to a set strict spending budget. But with time, using a tracking app or a spreadsheet, your spending will likely decrease.

Related read: How to make a budget

#10: Save Your Money In Different Accounts

Saving money in one account makes it easier to spend it. So, for this frugal living tip, consider spreading the money in various savings and checking accounts at different banks. And to supercharge this strategy, I like to set up withdrawal limits. That way, I won’t be tempted to use the funds.

Besides, investing some of your saved money would be a great choice. By investing your money, you’ll save for retirement instead of wasting your money on unnecessary things.

Related read: How to invest in stocks

#9: Organize Your Bills

Everyone has bills to pay. Frugal living means knowing all the bills that must be paid at the month’s end. For example, if you’re late paying a bill, you might get hit with a late payment fee or interest.

Organizing your bills by hand is a near-impossible task. To overcome the problem, add a bill payment reminder to your phone’s calendar. Then, your phone can automatically remind you before the due date. In our household, we try to keep at least two months of expenses in our checking account. Then, set up auto-pay on all the bills to automatically get paid from that account.

#8: Stop Monthly Subscriptions

Do you know all the $20, $30, or $40 monthly subscriptions that hit your credit card each month? For this frugal living tip, audit your credit cards for the monthly subscriptions you don’t use. In my experience, I’ve found that you can save thousands each year by finding free alternatives.

Some apps like Rocket Money help you cancel your automatic subscriptions. As you review your monthly subscriptions, look at how often you’ve used the subscriptions. For example, do you need to pay for multiple streaming services? Or, could one work?

#7: Avoid Carrying Too Much Cash & Credit

the wallet of someone who is drowning in debt

If you try everything possible but find it hard to curb spending, consider leaving your cash and credit cards at home. I find that doing so helps you avoid unnecessary expenses like buying coffee or snacks on your way to work and unnecessary daily costs.

Yet, sometimes, some emergencies may take place while at work. And frugal living doesn’t mean not living at all. You can have a little money at the office or a credit card with a low limit.
This method may feel like a hassle at first, as it requires time to get used to. But, after you start leaving the bulk of your money in the bank, it should help prevent you from spending extra money on things you don’t need to spend on.

#6: Create A Strict Grocery Budget

Cracking down your grocery shopping budget is a fantastic way to live frugally. A recent report shows that Americans throw away as much as 40% of the food they buy. That’s a $2,200 annual waste consisting of 300 lbs of food.

However, you may have challenges cutting your grocery budget. If you have trouble sticking to your grocery list, I find that meal planning and creating a shopping list around it works best- at least in our family.

Also, look for cheap, no-name alternative items to buy. The local farmers’ markets are also excellent places to get fresh vegetables and fruits with less money.

Eating out, on the other hand, will almost always be more expensive than cooking at home. Try to cook your food at home instead of eating out unless on a special occasion.

Related Read: Grocery Shopping On a Budget

#5: Avoid Going Out To Expensive Restaurants and Bars With Friends

Going out with friends for dinners and drinks is one way that can quickly lead to excessive spending. Instead, consider hosting your friends at home. Indeed, a small dinner party is one frugal way to help save from overspending.

If you do happen to go out with friends, be aware of your budget. Knowing how much you can spend will help you avoid buying expensive items. For example, consider a glass of water or a soda instead of costly drinks. For me, I like to order a glass of water with ice and lemon. It looks expensive, but not only that, it’s better on the diet!

Moreover, this strategy will help you socialize with your friends and still not feel guilty or left out of social activities. If you want to go out for drinks in the evening, consider buying one or two bottles of cheap wine and call your friends over instead.

#4: Curb Your Tech Addiction

Flashy new cell phones in varying colors come out each year. And new, bigger, brighter televisions in all flavors seem to be released almost monthly. Our parents kept televisions for 20 years. LCD TVs are good for 16 years of average use. But, many Americans change or upgrade their TVs every 2-3 years! What a waste!

For this frugal living tip, consider buying secondhand technology. Yes, you can still buy a secondhand iPhone. It will do the same as a new phone, but only slightly slower. Even one-year-old TVs can be bought for up to 50% of their retail price. That’s a fantastic win. The same goes for computers. I typically buy my computers when they are two or 3-years-old computers as they still have lots of life left over. As a result, you can keep them for at least another 2 or 3 years and save as much as 75%.

Related read: Wise / TransferWise Review: How I Saved $2,000+ in Banking Fees

#3: Book Travel During The Off-season

If you’re a travel addict like me, the best way to save money is to travel in the offseason, but only when the weather is still favorable and at lower prices. Not only does it cost less, but there are often fewer people.

For example, before I moved to Italy, I found that visiting this beautiful country costs so much more in July and August than, say, in May or September. So, if you want to visit Europe, consider a trip in the spring or late fall.

Also, consider renting an apartment or condo from Airbnb or other sites and cooking your meals there. This way, you can avoid all the expensive restaurants at your destination. And your health will thank you for it!

#2: Buy Secondhand Items

friends buying clothes from a second hand store

Do you like luxury cars, furniture, and designer clothes? I know I do! But you can buy all this more cheaply by opting for secondhand items. You can find the majority of these items from consignment shops.

However, you might need to buy a car. Remember, within two years, the vehicle will depreciate significantly. For example, say you want a new Range Rover because it’s a fantastic SUV. Instead of buying new, opt for a similar low-mileage secondhand model, around half the price. And, when looking for the best deal on any used car, be sure to look for a certified pre-owned vehicle.

#1: Give Yourself An Allowance

Frugal living is about minimizing expenses and saving money. Giving myself an allowance is, by far, my top tip. Let me explain. When I started learning about keeping a budget, first, I put myself on an allowance. Yes, I opened a checking account at a different bank, and each month for nearly two years, I’d “give myself a check” at the beginning of each month. That money would get used for all the “fun things” I wanted to do that month. If no money was left, it didn’t mean I didn’t eat. Instead, it meant I wasn’t “eating out.”

Sticking to a strict allowance is a fantastic way to ensure you will not spend more than you budgeted.

To get started with this frugal living tip, you might find it easier to set a specific amount of money to spend within one week. The money you plan for each week should include all the fun things, the “wants” from your budget.

Final Thoughts on Living Frugal

I hope that you’ve found these frugal living tips helpful. Like any plan, it’s best to start slow. Start with the steps you could put into practice today. Then, add in an extra step. Whatever you do, set yourself up for success. Which of these suggestions on our list are you likely to try? Let me know in the comments below.

Leave a Comment


Stay in Touch With Us

Get latest from The Financially Independent Millennial in our Friday Newsletter