The Complete Guide To Frugal Living (With 30+ Best Frugal Living Tips)

Are you looking for the best frugal living tips? Then, you have come to the right place!

I am all about Frugal Living. I live frugally. I blog about frugality. Frugal, I am thee.

I hope some of these frugal living tips help you be frugal- whether you choose to live frugally or you live a life of frugality out of necessity.

Living a frugal life is not only about not spending too much money, saving for retirement, stocking up an emergency fund, or avoiding credit card debt.

When you live a life of simplicity, you can spend time and money on what’s important to you. The best frugal living tips are the ones that work the best for you- the ones that will help you start living frugally and make your life easier.

Of course, if I can help you spend less money while you also work to make extra money, then you will be setting yourself up for a lifetime of financial success.

Being successful financially can give you options in life, and then you can also help others by giving and using your power (after all, money is power) to help others.

Here are some of my absolute favorite frugal tips to help you get started on your journey to frugal living. 

30+ Top Frugal Living Tips

Budget. Budget. Budget.

Creating a budget that works and then STICKING TO IT is the best and biggest frugal tip anyone can give you. Creating a budget gives a structure to your spending, which allows you to spend money on what you want and not spend money on things you don’t want to spend money on. That is the definition of living a frugal life.

When you find a great deal, buy in bulk.

Buying items in bulk when they are on sale is a great way to save money- not only do you save money but you have to go to the store less. When an item is on sale, has a coupon, or has a great cashback deal then grab a few.

This is a particularly great tip for meat and chicken. If meat is on sale, have your butcher cut it up into smaller pieces and then wrap them separately. Label everything clearly! Buying large amounts of meat is usually cheaper than buying individually cut pieces.

Reduce your shopping trips so that you spend less time in stores.

The more time you spend in a store, the more likely you are to spend money. Make a shopping list of the main things you need so that you have a guide to help you stay on task. (Want to save more on groceries? Here are 12 ways you can save)

Buy items on sale and then plan your meals around that.

The number one way to save money at the grocery store? Plan your meals around what you buy, not the other way around.

Eat at home.

We experiment at home! We don’t go to bakeries; we figure out something fun with the kids from home. You can make so many meals and treats at home with a little planning and creativity.

Stock your freezer.

Keep your freezer stocked with meals, so you don’t need to get take out when you are stressed or overwhelmed. When you cook, then double the recipes so that you have food ready to eat. Soups freeze well and are great for this type of thing. This is particularly important before a major holiday (Pesach, anyone?) or if you are having a baby. Have freezer meals ready to go so you can save money on take-out.

Keep old fruit.

Keep frozen fruit and vegetables in your freezer so that you can make quick smoothies and vegetable dishes in a pinch. You can take the slightly browning fruit (from those bananas you bought on sale and that no one eats even though your kids told you that bananas are their absolute favorite food) and freeze them for really cheap snacks and smoothies.

Avoid cleaning help.

We clean one floor together as a family every Sunday, and we often turn it into activities. Keeping your messy house clean helps you avoid the need for cleaning help and being organized will often save you money.

Get the kids involved.

Train your children from very young ages to do chores and household cleaning, according to their ability. Have a list of things that need to get done nightly, weekly, and monthly. Make it a fun family activity you can do every night.

Wear hand-me-downs.

My kids and I wear really lovely hand-me-downs. You can trade with other families or shop at thrift stores to get nice clothes for you and your kids.

Decide what you need.

I decide before each season how much of each clothing item my kids need and only buy that amount (if some of it is from hand-me-downs, even better). Sales were causing me to overbuy until I set it up this way.

Choose the right place to live.

We live in an area where families are happy with little making it easy to live below our means and our kids to have fewer expectations. Choosing where you live is a key part of being content with your frugal life.

Turn down the heating and put on a thick sweater.

The house doesn’t need to be warm enough to walk around in a t-shirt and bare feet in the middle of winter.

Automate everything.

Bills, savings, fun money, etc should all be automated. Use the extra mental bandwidth to implement money-saving systems. When you automate, you don’t have to second tons of time thinking about money: living a frugal lifestyle does not mean that you are always concerned about money.

Use the library!

I love the library! Having a library card is one of the biggest ways you can live cheaply; I don’t buy books anymore. If you decide to invest in a Kindle or other e-reader, you can also get tons of free e-books online. I love using my library’s Libby App to get free books downloaded to my Kindle- no matter the time of day.

Don’t think you will only save money on books! Libraries also offer many other services- some have games you can borrow, discounted passes to museums, and many other free or cheaper things. Get a library card!

Wait 24 hours.

Everything in the Amazon cart has to sit for 24 hrs. Anywhere you shop online- keep your stuff in the cart for 24 hours before purchasing to reduce impulse spending. An extra perk of this trick is that companies will often send you a coupon code for items you left in your cart to entice you to buy.

Shop genric brands.

Avoid big-name brands and look for value in products instead of name recognition. Buy generic brands as a rule and only buy brand-name products when you have a coupon or if you know that the product is significantly better.

Get freebies from companies. 

Companies and organizations give a lot of stuff away for free. Books, samples, and baby gear are just some examples of the things you can get for free. Start your frugal living journey by signing up to get all the freebies you can. These freebies will help you spend less money on items you are not totally sure you want to buy yet.

Join Giveaway Groups

My favorite frugal living tip is to get stuff for free. I save a good chunk of money by trying to get as much stuff for free as possible. These groups exist in different forms and on different platforms. Some are part of the official “Buy Nothing” Facebook groups, and some are just WhatsApp or email groups. Some of the very many things that I have gotten from my neighbors include a bunk bed, a table, chairs, a dresser, and a set of shelves.

Shop garage sales for old toys.

Garage sales are a great place to get cheap stuff, especially big outdoor toys or toys made of plastic like a plastic slide, a toy kitchen, riding toys, etc. These are easy to clean and hold up well, even if a few families use them. Garage sale shopping is a great way to get expensive toys for very cheap.

Get rid of the house phone.

Since everyone has a cell phone, you don’t need a house phone. If you do need a phone for the house, get a cheap prepaid cellphone for emergencies.

Go vegan.

Cut down on meat, chicken, and fish in your diet. These are usually more expensive, and you can save money by buying healthy beans and grains instead.

Buy a large freezer.

Your freezer will pay for itself in 6 months or less, I promise you. If you have to, keep it in your patio, garage, anywhere you can get electricity and somewhat protect it from the elements.

Be creative with what you find.

For example, if you have a chest freezer, take the door off and an upright freezer, remove the door and turn it on its side. Drill some holes in the bottom, and fill it up with dirt. Now you have a raised garden bed that won’t kill your back. Of course, that only works if you find an old freezer, but you can go dumpster diving or drive around and see what is being given away for free.

Do free fun things with your friends and kids.

Good thing I have tons of ideas on how to have fun on a budget. I wrote about 45 free things to do with kids indoors and 9 fun things to do with kids at home. If you don’t have kids, you can still do free stuff at home instead of going out (and spending money!). You can have a board game night or even have a romantic date night at home.

Use money-saving apps.

Spend some time signing up for Rakuten (Ebates), Ibotta, and use the cash back apps to save money on things you are already buying.

Shop clearance!

When you go shopping, go to the clearance aisle first. When you shop online, look in the clearance tab first. Make it a rule to never pay full price.

Hang your clothes to dry.

Using a drying rack to hang your clothes will not only save you money on your electric bill but will also make your clothes last longer, and you will need new clothing less often.

Play safe with credit cards.

Credit cards can be a useful tool, and some credit cards offer excellent cashback opportunities that you can use to get perks, free gift cards, or even use the cash back to pay your bills. (REMINDER: only use a credit card if you can afford to pay it off in full. Do not go into credit card debt just to get some perks).

Try to get free electronics.

I know this is a long shot but if you don’t care about the newest and the best, try to find someone who either cares about the latest upgrade or try to find someone who constantly gets free upgrades. You can then get or buy their phone or tablet for cheap.

For example, my sister-in-law’s phone broke, and the sound does not work well. She was able to get a new one for free, and I took her old one. For the price of a pair of headphones, I have a perfectly good smartphone. Be creative in how you can do things like this.

Meal prep to save money when working long hours.

If you work a long day then all you want for lunch is convenience! That often means buying lunch. Avoid the extra spend by meal prepping in advance; this is not only healthier for you but will save you money. You can invest in some good lunch-packing materials (like this Mini Croc-Pot Food Warmer or a Bento Box), so you can have a delicious, warm meal while you are working super hard.

Use your employer’s 401k or 403b to invest.

This allows you to build investments without you ever having access to the money, making it impossible for you to spend it on something else inadvertently. If you qualify, you will find that many of your places of employment will offer these types of accounts (hopefully with a great match). Take advantage of that and use that money to create a life you love.

Carpool.

Do you work or attend school outside of the home? Connect with co-workers and classmates, find out if they live close to you (or are on the way), and form a carpooling group. Carpooling can save you money on gas and tolls and is great for the environment as well!

Some of these frugal living tips will be exactly what you need. Some will be so out of touch you will want to throw your device across the room. The point of these tips is not to assume that everyone will gain from them or that everyone will even save money by using them. The point is to help you realize the different ways you can start living your best frugal life.

What Does Frugal Living Mean?

Definition of Frugal Living

People who are frugal or who live frugal lives do not spend much money on themselves (Dictionary) But living a life of frugality is much more than that.

Living a frugal life means making do for what doesn’t matter. It means not filling your life with things that don’t matter. It means stripping down to the things that matter. It means not devoting time and money to things that don’t matter.

There is an inherent value in doing with less regardless of the amount of money you have. Even if you have a lot, there is value in doing with less, eschewing materialism, reducing your waste as much as possible, and leaving the smallest physical footprint in this world as possible.

There is something good about living a frugal life. Frugal living can be rewarding in many ways. There is something about doing with less, about trying to have less materialism in your life.

Simple Frugal Living

We also need to understand that saving money is a necessity in the world we live in. When you spend all your money on things that you don’t need or you spend your money because you are in the habit of spending, then you are giving up any financial freedom you may be able to have in your future. Good money habits included cutting down on spending and making more money. You need to find places in your budget to cut down so you can save more money and be prepared. Be creative in where you save and work to find more places to save money without compromising on your happiness.

There was a time in my life when I was unemployed, and we (my husband and I) had very, very little money. It was a dark, depressing time. I was extremely hesitant to use credit cards or dip into savings because I had no idea if I would ever get another job or be able to pay it back. I had watched too many people sink deep into credit card debt, and I didn’t want that happening to me.

I was on a tiny, strict budget, and I really stuck to it. I sometimes look back and wonder how we managed to make it work, and I honestly don’t know. We had so little. Being frugal-not-by-choice is a terrible situation to be in.

From that moment onwards, I decided that I would actively embrace frugal living whether I had to or not. I would make frugal living a value that I espouse. 

That is why I do what I do and why I write what I write. I hope some of these simple frugal living ideas resonate with you and make your life a little better. Let me know!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.

17 thoughts on “The Complete Guide To Frugal Living (With 30+ Best Frugal Living Tips)”

  1. I turned frugal due to circumstances but it has totally changed my life. The game changer for me was proper meal planning. I now love cooking and am eating better than ever, and have expanded my repertoire and quality of food whilst spending much less. You are so right, planning ahead reduces stress, reliance on takeout’s and the bonus is someone else knows what we’re having and can start dinner if I’m late home, just by checking the kitchen calendar! Long live frugality, love it

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  2. Food is one of the big three expenses in most people’s budgets. It may also be the one expense we can have the most impact on. There are so many good ideas here for reducing food costs, bravo! Another one I use to stay out of grocery stores and save money is by getting grocery deliveries from Imperfect Foods. I save gas by getting my order delivered to my door, and the food is also cheaper. Imperfect Foods strives to keep less than perfect food out of the landfill by selling it for less. It’s still perfectly good, just oddly shaped at times, haha.

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  3. Here’s a tip that’s so old it will probably be new again: Scour the web to see if your electric utility has a time-of-use plan–following this may net savings of up to 50% off your electric bills.

    I myself use Dominion Energy (VA), and after some scouring, found the time-of-use plan schedule buried in their annual meeting notes. I only had to do this once, because the plan has never changed since. Several people have asked my secret to $50-$100 (max) electric bills, even when running heat or A/C, and this is what I tell them. My immediate neighbor (who scoffs at any kind of restrictions being put on her electric use) gripes about her $300 bills while I smile and silently revel in my $60 bill.

    If you find a plan associated with your electric company, you will encounter restricted hours that probably won’t correspond to your current lifestyle…SO CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE to suit the plan schedule. There’s no qualifying, and nothing to sign up for–it’s completely free and voluntary. On the plus side: with Dominion Power, every weekend, every federal holiday, and every night from about 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. is discounted time to use (if a time-of-use plan exists for you, and it follows this schedule).

    If you can set a load of clothes to wash/dry, or a dishwasher can be timed to run during these hours, or an electric car plugged in to charge, this is money saved. Set a crockpot to run on Friday night, and you’re greeted to dinner Saturday morning (use outlet timers if needed to cut it on and off). If you can do batch cooking on the weekends, you’ll be employing 2 or 3 frugal tricks at once! I realize this will benefit mostly stay-at-home people, but in this day and age of telecommuting, work schedules can be shifted around to accommodate the time-of-use plan (whatever yours may turn out to be).

    I have a collection of old-but probably new again tips, but for now, I’ll leave you all with the most valuable one of them all. Sometimes Boomers (or near-Boomers) can come in handy for something!

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    • ~Lesson From the Pandemic~

      Go cashless and stay that way: since most stores stopped taking cash because of the coin shortage and for hygiene issues, we went “card only” but had no debit card. Instead, we used a paid-off credit card. Why? Two reasons:
      1. debit cards offer no fraud protection
      2. by constantly using and paying off a CC, you’re super-charging your credit rating (and cash back and reward points, if applicable)

      I have money going automatically every payday to the CC, so it’s always paid off, and always in a negative balance–NO INTEREST PAID!! CC’s out there are now variable interest, and some in the double-digit interest range unless you’re a preferred customer.

      Should this card ever get lost or stolen, I’m only liable for $50 by federal law, however, my bank does me one better by lowering that amount to 0–can’t get THAT with a regular debit card! Plus, I can freeze and unfreeze my CC on the bank website.

      So if you want a clever way to avoid having to handle filthy money, rev up your credit rating/cash back/reward points, and spank your bank by denying them interest, go this route. I’m thinking this may be a huge jackpot for Walmart CC cardholders–start with a paid-off card, keep sending in money regularly, go shopping/get gas as normal, get cash back or reward points as allowed, AND DENY WALMART THAT 20-SOMETHING PERCENT INTEREST RATE THEY CHARGE FOR THE CARD! Since I personally don’t own a Walmart card, I don’t know if you’ll be able to send in money even though you have no balance. I also don’t know if you get any kind of discount for using a Walmart card at Walmart stores–but if you do, that’s just more icing on the cake. Kinda like the good ol’ days of stacking coupons (for those of you who aren’t aware of this, a “coupon stack” is a store coupon stacked on top of a manufacturer coupon, coupled with an in-store sale). That was known as a triple-stack, and people used to be able to buy whole shopping carts full of food for maybe $20. Sadly, those days are long gone.

      Yes, this is the card version of “same as cash” + wonderful benefits. As we all know (or should know), cash is king.

      Reply
  4. I just read through quickly and will go over it when I have more time, but I didn’t see one of my top tips. Plan a menu and not just dinner all meals and snacks. That is always my first step, then I make a list of everything and the quantitiy I will need, next I check the pantry, fridge, freezer and garden and cross off anything I already have and then I go to the store.

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  5. Being frugal is more than just saving or not spending money; it’s about reducing waste. I’ve actually gotten to where I resist the urge to stuff my fridge and freezer with groceries and instead only shop for what I need, when I need it. To avoid impulse buying, I make a shipping list and sick to it. I do this because I noticed that fits in the freezer didn’t always get eaten and then it gets freezer burned or just too old to be safe. Same with the fridge. I was stocking up on fruits and vegetables that often went bad too quickly for us to get to them. I do stock up when something is on sale, but only with non-perishables like canned and dry goods. Also, off you do have a full freezer and you know there is older food in there, do a grocery exile where you dedicate a week to consuming the freezer items you know have been there for a while.

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  6. As a child of immigrant parents we were always “poor” but well-fed. My mom passed on a lot of wisdom to me growing up.

    I cook every meal from scratch and freeze a lot. I buy fresh produce that’s in season – tastes better and is cheaper. You can blanch many veggies and freeze them to have all year round.

    I live in a small apartment but have been growing some container vegetables on my balcony such as tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, zucchini and herbs. Lots of beautiful fresh organic veggies all summer long.

    I buy other grocery staples when they’re on sale. I make my own granola, ice cream, muffins for breakfast (freezes well), desserts etc.. ready-made desserts, granola, etc all contain preservatives and other unhealthy ingredients. When you make your own (including meals) you know exactly what goes into your food.

    I recycle plastic containers (lettuce boxes, fruit containers, etc) and use them to freeze baked goods, store cut-up fruit, plant flowers, seedlings, herbs and lettuce. Gallon-sized water bottles can be used to grow certain veggies, just cut off the top so your opening is large. Smaller water bottles can be used as irrigation systems.

    All plastic bags are recycled as garbage bags (kitchen, bathroom). You can compost all your fruit and vegetable ‘cuttings’ in a large container so that you have nice rich compost to mix in with your soil when growing your garden.

    Most ziploc bags can be washed and re-used several times.

    I bought my cell phone used on eBay and I’m still using it 8 yrs later. I paid under $200 for it when it was close to $900 new. It works just fine.

    Buy quality vs quantity, that way you can use it, wear it, etc… for many years to come.

    I knit my own sweaters and regularly add 5-7 new items to my wardrobe. I buy quality yarn so the sweaters last me many years.

    My only comment from the article above is regarding the Amazon cart. I’ve done that before but my experience was that when I leave the item in my cart for a day or two, the merchant raises the price because they know you want it. I usually remove it from my cart and check back a few days later. The price often falls. Greed’s ugly face..

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    • Forgot to mention… I save glass jars and use them when I make my own jam. When fruit is in season, it makes wonderful jams and only takes 15-20 mins. I don’t can mine, I freeze them. Works wonders.

      Make your own pesto – takes 5 mins and store it in a recycled glass jar. Freeze. Lasts several months in the freezer.

      Dry your banana peels until they’re completely dry and hard. Whizz them in a coffee grinder and use the “powder” as fertilizer for your plants. Rich in minerals and cheaper than buying the chemical stuff in the store 🙂

      You can also save old egg cartons and use them to germinate small seeds. Just poke a hole or two at the bottom for drainage. Transfer the germinated seedlings to styrofoam or plastic cups to allow the plant to grow before transplanting into a larger container.

      Lately, many larger candles come in glass jars. When all the wax has been burned, scrape it out and wash the glass jar. Use it to store small items, pencils, as a planter, votive holder, etc..

      Reply
  7. Keeping old fruit (and sometimes finding “ugly” fruits/vegetables has helped a lot to save. Also I’ve been using the library more. My brother got me into realizing all the things I once got from audible are available from the library.

    Great list, thanks for sharing.

    Reply

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