)Learning to live a frugal lifestyle will make you happier and less stressed. Wow! That’s a pretty big statement, but I really believe it’s true. Far too many of us (myself included) fall into the trap of slaving away to earn as much money as possible. Then we spend it on things that we don’t need and won’t make us happy. It’s crazy when you think about it.
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Learning to be content with less is a mindset shift that will change your life for the better. When you aren’t constantly striving for more, you become happier with what you have. You simply don’t need more money to have a happy life.
Like most things, learning to live frugally is easier said then done. Most of us are so used to spending money, it’s hard to change those habits. But if money is really stressing you out and learning to spend less is important to you, you CAN make this work.
What is a Frugal Lifestyle Anyway?
I am often asked what is a frugal lifestyle. S0 before we get to the list of frugal living ideas, I want to quickly explain what frugal living looks like for the average person.
Being frugal means that you are happy living on less. A person who lives a frugal lifestyle:
- spends less money
- is resourceful – using what they already have instead of buying something new
- tries not to be wasteful
- always looks for a cheaper alternative.
Top Frugal Living Ideas
I have put together this list of top frugal living ideas to help get you started on your frugal living journey. These simple suggestions are a great way to begin living on less.
Note: For most of the frugal living tips below, I have listed the annual savings. This number is based on my family’s average savings and, in most cases, is an approximation. Every family is different, so your savings may be very different than mine.
Save Money Around the House
1. Make A Budget
A budget is simply a plan for your money, and you MUST have a plan to be successful with money. Creating a household budget is the first step to living a more frugal lifestyle.
2. Change Your Thermostat
Lower your thermostat by 5 degrees in the winter and raise it 5 degrees in the summer to save money on your electric bill. This is a tough one for me because I am cold all the time (seriously ALL the time), but it really works.
My husband actually installed the ecobee Smart Thermostat so we can control the temperature of our home from anywhere. It’s pretty cool!
Just by changing your thermostat, you can save 5% – 15% off your electric bill per year.
Savings: approximately $100/year
3. Ditch Paper Towels and Plastic Baggies
These convenience items really add up over time. Invest in a set of kitchen towels to clean up messes and high quality lunch containers to keep costs down in the kitchen.
4. Get an Antenna
The average cable bill is $99 a month! That’s absolutely crazy. The antenna is where it’s at my friends. Think an antenna is old fashioned? Think again! There are some great modern options out there and best of all, with an antenna, TV is absolutely FREE!
We have this antenna and it works great!
5. Cancel Prime
The free shipping is too tempting! I found as soon as I quit Amazon Prime, I started spending less. The convenience of ordering things with a single click and having it delivered for free actually increased my spending. I was buying things I didn’t really need on impulse. Try canceling Prime and see if you spend less too.
6. Switch Your Cell Phone
It’s amazing how much money we spend on cell phones. Simply switch to a prepaid service and save hundreds every year. My husband and I swear by Walmart Family Mobile – we pay $30 each per month for unlimited talk, text, and data. It’s awesome.
7. Turn Stuff Off
This seems like a no-brainier, but it’s easy to forget. Turn stuff off when you leave a room. The energy it takes to keep the lights and TV on are costing you $. According to EnergyUseCalculator, if you left one light on while you were at work for 8 hours each day, over one year that would equal $17.52. It’s not a huge saving but turning stuff off, will save you some money.
8. Line Dry Clothes
Save even more electricity by drying your clothes on the line. Especially if you live in a warm climate like I do, clothes will dry super fast in the sun. Making this simple change saves quite a bit over the course of a year.
Savings: $27.38/year (according to EnergyUseCalculator)
Save Money Shopping
9. Use EBATES
If you don’t have EBATES installed, go get it right now! This browser extension makes it so easy to save money shopping online. After you have it installed, when you visit a website that offers cashback (and there are a ton that do), simply click the button to activate the offer and then go ahead and make your purchase. Afterward, you will receive an alert with your cashback total. It’s so cool!
Get EBATES Now (it’s super easy)!
Savings: It really depends how much online shopping you do, but I get about $10 each month or $120/year
10. Get Free Gift Cards
Swagbucks is an easy way to earn free gift cards to your favorite retailers. Simply sign up and install the browser extension. You can earn points by shopping online, completing surveys, watching videos and searching the internet. Save up your points and then redeem for gift cards!
11. Always Get the Best Price
This is one of my favorite ways to save money shopping online. Gone are the days of scouring the internet for coupon codes only to find they are expired. Hate that! Honey is a free browser extension that hunts down the best, current coupon codes for your purchase. When you shop online, Honey will automatically appear at checkout. It just takes one click to find extra savings.
12. Shop Thrift Stores/Garage Sales
Thrift stores are a great place to find cheap furniture and home decor, dishes, pots and pans, clothes, and toys. Just make sure to avoid shopping on the weekends – everyone shops on the weekend and all the good stuff is probably already gone. Try thrift store shopping on Tuesday or Wednesday for the best finds!
13. Wait Before Making Big Purchases
Avoiding impulse purchases is an important part of frugal living. If there is something you really want, wait two or three days before buying. Many times we get so caught up in the thrill of buying, we make purchases without thinking them through. Give yourself time, and see if it’s something you really want.
14. Stick to Your Budget
You have a budget for a reason. If an item is more than your budget allows, save up until you have enough money to cover the cost.
15. Stock Up After Holidays
Take advantage of post-holiday sales to stock up on things for next year. You can really save a bundle!
Save Money on Food
16. Meal Plan
Meal planning is one of the best ways to save money on food. There are two options when it comes to meal planning – you can do it yourself or you can try a service, like The $5 Meal Plan, that sends you meal plans and shopping lists every week. Both are great options, pick the one that works best for your family.
Or Try: The $5 Meal Plan – Use this link and get a 14 free trial!
17. Download Ibotta
The Ibotta app is an awesome grocery app to get save money at the grocery store! Before you shop, add offers (like save $.50 on bananas) to your Ibotta account. After your shopping trip, simply snap a photo of your receipt and upload it through the app. Within 48 hours, you will receive cash back for all your qualifying purchases!
Bonus – Right now, get a $10 welcome bonus from Ibotta when you sign up and redeem your first offer! Gotta love free money!
18. Never Buy Bottled Water or Ice
Always have a reusable water bottle handy wherever you go and keep plastic ice trays in your freezer for free ice.
I am a huge fan of the Contigo water bottles. They keep water cold for up to 12 hours which is great for the summer.
19. Pack Your Lunch
I know it’s kind of a pain to pack lunches everyday, but it saves so much money over the course of a year. Get some nice lunch containers (love the Rubbermaid Lunch Container Kit) and prep lunches over the weekend. It’s not so bad, I promise.
20. Try Curbside Grocery Pick Up
This is absolutely my favorite way to save money (and time) at the grocery store. ClickList (available at Kroger stores) has changed the way I shop for food. Simply create your shopping list online and select a time to pick up your food. When you arrive at the store, your groceries are loaded into your car and you’re on your way!
While this service does charge a $5 fee, Fry’s (and other Kroger stores) offer exclusive, high value coupons for ClickList customers only. Last week, I got $15 worth of toilet paper and paper towels for FREE with a ClickList exclusive coupon!
21. Shop Once a Week
A few extra trips to the store really add up. Limit yourself to one shopping trip per week to maximize savings. When my husband looked at our spending habits, he calculated that we were spending about $30 a week on those extra shopping trips. Yikes!
22. Load Up On Digital Coupons
Before I had my daughter, I would spend hours clipping coupons. They did save us money, but it was such a time consuming chore! Digital coupons make it so much easier to save money on groceries and lots of stores offer them now. Just log onto your store’s website and click the coupons you want. They will be loaded onto your loyalty card and automatically applied at checkout. I love handing my Fry’s card to the cashier and watching total drop lower and lower. It’s a bit of a rush!
23. Grow an Herb Garden
Plant a few herbs in your garden to save money at the store. We have basil, mint, and rosemary growing right now, and use them all the time to add flavor to meals.
24. Don’t Buy Frozen Meals
Frozen meals are expensive and fairly unhealthy. Try homemade freezer meals instead. They’re cheaper, healthier, and just as easy to pop in the oven on busy nights.
Sign up for the: How to Make Homemade Freezer Meals – Free Workshop
Save on Personal Care
25. Grow Out Your Hair
This one is simple. Short hair requires more maintenance. When your hair is longer you don’t need to visit the salon as often.
26. Make Your Own Beauty Products
Making your own beauty products is not only cheaper, it’s better for you too (no icky chemicals and whatnot).
Try these wonderful DIY beauty recipes:
27. Do Your Nails at Home
My nail salon charges $30 for a gel manicure which lasts about 2 weeks. That really adds up quick! I NEED my gel polish (regular polish can’t handle motherhood), so I bought my own light and gel. The polish lasts a long time, so after the initial purchase, I save about $60 a month!
Give yourself a gel manicure at home with this affordable LED Nail Light.
28. Use Less Shampoo/Conditioner
Shampoo and conditioner can be expensive, and most of us are using far too much of it. Make your hair products last longer by using a dime sized amount to wash and condition your hair.
29. Keep Makeup Simple
Streamline your makeup routine to save money. Stick to the daily essentials like: moisturizer, foundation, concealer, blush and mascara. You don’t need the super fancy eye shadow you will only wear once or twice.
30. Workout at Home
Save your money and skip the gym. Go on a run, bike around the block, or check out the countless (and free) exercise videos on YouTube. I personally love the BeFit YouTube channel.
31. Buy Discount Gift Cards to Restaurants
Save money shopping online with discount gift cards! Go to the website Raise to find gift cards at discounted prices to restaurants like Panera, Olive Garden, even Starbucks.
32. Go Out to Lunch Instead of Dinner
This one is easy. If you’re going to eat at a restaurant, go out for lunch instead of dinner. This will save up to half off your meal!
33. Never Buy Drinks
Frugal people drink water. The markup on beverages is huge at restaurants, so wait until you get home to have that Coke.
34. Go to the Library
My daughter is always begging to go to the library. I don’t blame her. She can play with toys and games, visit the art station, read some books and, of course, socialize with other kids. The library also offers outstanding free entertainment and classes for everyone from babies to adults.
35. Get Outdoors
Enjoy the wonders of nature – it’s fun and free! Go the park, take a hike, swim, jog, or just explore your city.
36. Find Free Events
Check local guides for free events around your city. Also subscribe to the email lists of your local zoo, children’s museum, Science Center, etc. They often have free admission nights!
Travel For Less
37. Compare Airfare
It amazes me how many people don’t do this! Always compare prices on plane tickets to get the best deal. Not only compare airlines but different dates as well (if you can).
38. Pack Light
Avoid pricey baggage fees by packing light.
39. Go Camping
Camping is a great, affordable alternative to staying at a motel. They even have campsites with lots of amenities, everything from showers to laundry facilities.
40. Pack Your Own Food/Coffee
Restaurants and fast food places are expensive, so bring your own snacks and lunches when you hit the road. Try to find lodging with a kitchen too, so you can prepare meals in your room.
These frugal living ideas are simple ways to begin living a more frugal lifestyle. Make these small changes today, and over time, you will be shocked how much you actually save. For my family, we ended up saving over $10,000 each year!
For more frugal living ideas, sign up for my frugal living newsletter and get new money-saving tips and inspiration sent to your inbox every week!
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