8 Frugal Living Tips Millennials Can Learn From Baby Boomers

It’s a common refrain among millennials that their parent’s generation, the ‘baby boomers,’ had it easier when it came to finances. 

The cost of living was lower, education was more affordable, and the job market was more promising. 

The key across all these tips is embracing a frugal, mindful approach to spending and looking for creative ways to reduce costs through self-sufficiency, reusing/repurposing, and delayed gratification – timeless principles that can benefit millennials today just as they did for the boomer generation.

Jason Higgs, Senior Deals Strategist at Bountii, says that while it’s true that economic conditions have shifted, boomers had their own set of challenges and developed some clever money-saving strategies that millennials would be wise to adopt.

Jason shares eight money-saving hacks your parents likely utilized and how you can adapt them for modern times.

1. Pack a Lunch

Boomers were masters of the humble packed lunch, which saved money on meals. They would prepare simple, homemade lunches to bring to work or school instead of buying expensive cafeteria or restaurant food. 

Bringing packed lunches isn’t a bad idea after all, especially in these difficult economic times. 

One UK study shows that workers brought 86 million packed lunches into the office in 2023, 57 million more compared with 2022. 

Reviving this tradition with a modern twist through budget-friendly meal prepping can be very cost-effective for millennials. 

Jason says: “On the weekends, you can prepare your week-long lunches using affordable ingredients, portion your food out, and voila – you have inexpensive and nutritious grab-and-go meals.”

2. Use Coupons 

Before digital savings apps, boomers diligently clipped coupons from newspapers and magazines. They combined these paper coupons strategically with sales and loyalty programs to maximize savings at grocery and retail stores. 

While more old-fashioned, this practice demonstrates being an intentional, savvy consumer. Now, of course, you can use easy coupon apps and cashback apps to do the same thing with less work. 

“Millennials can put this strategy into practice by using apps available nowadays such as RetailMeNot, Ibotta, and Coupons.com that would allow you to look for digital coupons and ‘clip’ them before you go shopping,” notes Jason.

3. DIY

From home repairs to haircuts, boomers embraced a do-it-yourself spirit to avoid the costs of professional services.  

They learned basic skills like plumbing, carpentry, sewing, and cutting hair themselves. 

“For millennials, developing a DIY mindset by watching tutorials and taking community classes can pay dividends,” says Jason. “Doing simple home projects, basic grooming services, and even clothing repairs yourself can save a lot of money over hiring professionals.”

4. Use Thrift Stores 

Long before thrifting became trendy, boomers frequented second-hand stores for quality clothing, furniture, and household items at bargain prices. They appreciated repurposing and reusing items. 

Thrifting is, in fact, a much-loved activity. One study says that more than nine out of 10 Americans shop online for secondhand items. Last year, the secondhand market earned a whopping estimate of $53 billion in revenue.

“Millennials can adopt this by checking out thrift stores, garage sales, online marketplaces like Craigslist/Facebook, and apps like OfferUp to find affordable second hand goods instead of buying new,” says Jason.

5. Do a Staycation

With international travel less accessible financially, boomers got creative by exploring local attractions and regional destinations for vacations instead of expensive trips abroad.  

Jason says, “Millennials can embrace this by researching free/low-cost activities, parks, museums, and events in their city or within drivable distances for affordable ‘staycation’ fun without splurging on airfare and hotels.”

6. Make it Potluck 

Rather than hiring pricey caterers, boomers hosted potluck gatherings where each guest contributed a dish to share the costs.  

“Millennials can revive this tradition for celebrations and dinner parties by coordinating inexpensive potluck meals with friends and family instead of going out or ordering expensive catering,” Jason says.

7. Start Bartering 

Before today’s freelance marketplaces, boomers commonly bartered services like childcare or handyman skills with friends and neighbors to avoid cash costs.  

Millennials can look for opportunities to barter their skills and services with others in exchange for needs they have rather than paying out-of-pocket.

8. Delayed Gratification

Perhaps the most valuable boomer mindset was understanding the importance of delaying major purchases through diligent saving rather than impulsive spending.  

According to a survey, American consumers spent around $150 on impulse purchases every month last year. 

Multiply it by the number of months in a year and then by the years you have this habit, and you can imagine how much of a drain on your wallet impulsive buying can be.

Jason says: “Millennials should always practice diligent saving as they go about their daily lives by setting savings goals, avoiding or reducing debt for wants versus needs, and practicing patience to save up for big expenses rather than instantly gratifying through credit.”

Read More:


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.