Deciding to embrace frugality doesn’t mean you have to zap all the fun away from your life. While there will be sacrifices, it’ll all be worth it if you’re making the shift for a good cause.
Perhaps you’re tired of living paycheck to paycheck and want to scale back your spending so you can build a cash stash to smooth out your income each month. Or maybe you’re drowning in credit card debt and the only way to get out is by cutting back and allocating the newfound disposable income to those pesky debt balances.
The First Step
Regardless of your inspiration for wanting to be more frugal and save money, one thing’s for certain: you’ll need a budget to get you there. But without a realistic spending plan that you’ll stick to, your money will continue to run the show and you may have a hard time-saving.
Don’t know how to create a budget? This handy guide will get you on the right track. And once you’ve done so, keep reading for a comprehensive list of ways to be frugal and save money.
23 Ways to Embrace the Frugal Lifestyle and Save Money
1. Downsize Your Living Arrangements
If you currently own your home and don’t plan on moving anytime soon, this tip won’t apply to you. But if you’re renting and your lease is coming to an end, consider downsizing to keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket. Scaling back doesn’t mean that you have to compromise your comfort and safety. Instead, focus on finding a space that meets your needs from a functionality standpoint and is offered at a good price point. And if you’re in an area that’s relatively pricey, consider getting a roommate so the rent will be more affordable.
2. Be Mindful of Energy Consumption
Simple actions around your home can cut energy costs tremendously, like:
- Installing a programmable thermostat to regulate the temperature in your home
- Only using ceiling fans in rooms that are occupied
- Flipping the light switch when you leave a room
- Reducing the temperature on your hot water heater
- Covering pots when boiling water
3. Wash Your Own Ride
Your car can still turn heads even if you don’t take it in each week to be detailed. A better idea: wash and detail your own ride as often as you’d like. You won’t have to take time out of your busy schedule to make appointments and drop your car off (assuming the detailer doesn’t come to you). And you won’t spend a wad of cash to acquire supplies.
4. Ditch Cable
Firestick or Netflix, anyone? With the emergence of so many platforms to watch all your favorite movies and shows at the tap of a fingertip, there’s no need to continue spending a bundle every month of cable. Instead, evaluate more cost-efficient options, call up your cable provider, and cut the cord. Doing so can save you $100 or more each month.
5. Bundle Up
Insist on keeping the cable on in your home? The choice is yours, but be sure to call up the cable company and inquire about promotional offers you may qualify for. There’s a possibility that you aren’t on the cheapest plan but you won’t know until you give them a call. And if you’re currently paying for cable, internet, and telephone service, be sure to bundle up your services to secure the best rate.
Bonus tip: a few times per year, reach out to your cable provider and ask about current specials if you’re not locked into a contract. If they’re unwilling to share this information with you, tell them you’ve found a better deal elsewhere and ask to speak with the customer retention department. This should be enough to get them to work with you out of fear that they could lose a valuable customer.
6. Negotiate a Better Rate With Your Cell Phone Provider
When was the last time you reviewed your cell phone plan? Is it exactly what you need or will a more simple plan suffice? If it’s the latter, reach out to your cell phone provider to modify your plan and negotiate a better rate that allows you to save money.
7. Use a Meal Planner
How many times have you visited the grocery store each week to pick up dinner or some ingredient you needed at the last minute? This can be tiring and costly, especially if you have a busy schedule and find yourself slaving in the kitchen when night falls because you wait until the last minute to decide what’s for dinner.
A better idea: sit down on Sunday and create a meal plan for the week that includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For inspiration, refer to the weekly sales circulars for grocery stores you frequent to maximize savings and create a shopping list of what you’ll need for the week. Head to the store and only purchase the items on your list. Doing so takes the guesswork out of “what’s for dinner” each night and helps curb costs by eliminating excessive spending on groceries and dining out.
Bonus Tip: Conduct a pantry purge to par down your grocery list. Commit to using up everything that’s lingering before you purchase any additional items.
8. Never Shop Hungry
Have you ever spent hundreds of dollars in the grocery store, only to pick up a pizza on the way home because you were too exhausted to prepare dinner? If you can relate, chances are you headed to the grocery store on an empty (or relatively empty) stomach and picked up a bunch of items you didn’t really need as they seemed appealing at the time. But you can stick to your list and save money by never shopping hungry.
9 Use Coupons
Long gone are the days of spending hours clipping coupons. Thanks to mobile apps, you can access digital coupons directly from your smartphone and scan them at the register. Prefer not to use coupons? Shopping comparison apps are another ideal way to find the best prices on everyday items.
10. Eat Leftovers
When you prepare meals, don’t toss away the extras. Instead, use meal prep containers to store leftovers and eat them for lunch the following day. Depending on how much you prepare, you could shave down the number of meals you prepare each week by half and save a bundle.
11. Increase Your Auto Insurance Deductible
The lower your insurance deductible, the higher your premiums. But by increasing your deductible, you could save quite a bit on your monthly or quarterly premiums. However, you want to be sure you have enough money tucked away in your cash stash in the event you need to file a claim. Otherwise, you could find yourself in hot water with your insurance provider.
12. Shop Around for the Best Rates on Auto Insurance
Even if you’ve been doing business with the same auto insurance provider for several years, it’s never a bad idea to shop around to see what else is out there. You may find more affordable rates elsewhere for the same level of coverage. But you don’t have to ditch your provider right away. Instead, you can let them know that you found more cost-efficient coverage elsewhere and see if they’d be willing to reduce your rate to retain you as a customer. If they aren’t, that’s your sign to do what’s best for your wallet by moving on.
13. Consolidate Daily Trips
Using a mobile app, like GasBuddy, to find the best prices around town is one way to save on gasoline. Another way is to consolidate daily trips as much as possible. This means avoiding multiple trips to and from your home before or after work by running as many errands as you can while you’re out and about.
14. Walk to Work
Do you live near your job? Consider footing it or riding your bicycle to work. You’ll save money on gas while boosting your physical fitness.
15. Don’t Skip Routine Maintenance On Your Ride
When you take your vehicle in for an oil change and the mechanic comes back with a list of recommendations, don’t automatically blow him off because you don’t like the price points. Instead, hear him out and refer to your operator’s manual to confirm the recommended services by mileage. But if you choose to skip routine maintenance on your ride, you could be putting yourself at risk for future issues that can only be rectified by costly repairs.
16. Buy Second-hand Apparel and Footwear
Why buy brand new clothes and shoes when you can get them gently used for a fraction of the cost? Try consignment shops and online marketplaces. And you can also boost your cash stash by selling items you no longer need that are used but in good condition.
17. Request a Lower Interest Rate on Credit Cards
Have you responsibly managed your credit cards over time? Or maybe your credit has improved since you opened your account(s)? Either way, it’s worth a shot to call your credit card company and request a lower interest rate.
18. Refinance Your Loans
Once you’ve requested more competitive interest rates on your credit cards, consider reaching out to lenders to refinance your loans. If approved for better terms, your payment will be lower, which equates to more disposable income. But keep in mind that by extending the loan term, the lender will have more time to collect interest from you.
19. Ditch the Gym for Free Workouts
Scrap your gym membership and hit the great outdoors to save money. You may find that a change of scenery is what you need to see even better results, and you’ll save money. Furthermore, cutting the cord on your gym membership means you’ll be forced to think outside the box and switch up your workouts.
20. Find Cheap Haircuts
Frequent visits to the salon can add up over time, particularly when you’re trying to be frugal and save money. So try a local hair school for haircuts as they tend to charge a fraction of what you’d pay at a professional salon. Also, search for weekly specials or coupons offered by salons in your area. And as a last resort, solicit the assistance of a friend or relative to cut your hair for free, or watch YouTube tutorials and learn to do-it-yourself.
21. Find Free Entertainment
Girls or guys night out and date nights may seem like a must when you’ve had a stressful week and want to unwind. But you have to keep your savings goals in mind and stick to your guns by saying no. The good news is you can still find free entertainment around town if you insist on getting out of the house, or you can bring the party to you by inviting friends over or setting up something romantic, like a candlelit dinner, in the comforts of your home.
22. Free Checking Accounts
Tired of paying fees on your checking and savings accounts? Break up with your current financial institution for a bank or credit union that offers fee-free checking accounts. And depending on which one you use, you may qualify for a hefty new account holder bonus.
23. Avoid Late Fees
Stay up to date on your bills and debt obligations to avoid late fees and other penalties. Otherwise, you’ll be throwing money away that you could be saving.
What are some of your top ways to be frugal and save money? Let us know in the comments below.