Frugal Living Guide and Tips

So, you’ve decided to give the frugal life a shot, and now you’re wondering what you’ve committed to. Does frugal living mean dooming yourself to a life of deprivation, just so you can save a few cents here and there?

Not at all. Frugal living isn’t about sacrifice and deprivation; it’s about living smarter, so that you can afford to live the life that you want to live — the life that you dream of living.

Ready to find out what the frugal life really entails? Read on, and find out.

Frugal Living Means Smarter Money Management.

When you know how much money you have in the bank and how much money you need to cover your monthly bills, you can begin to make better decisions about how your money is spent. Can you afford to splurge on a new pair of shoes? Is this the right time to buy a new car? ​Put a frugal budget in place, and you’ll know just what you can afford, and more importantly, what you can’t afford.

You’ll also know where you stand with your debt repayment, savings goals, and investments — a key step to taking charge of your money and making it work for you.

Frugal Living Means Smarter Spending.

It's taking the money that you have and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g it as far as it will go.

It's learning how to get the best deal on everything that you buy — shopping thrift stores, yard sales, clearance racks and barter boards until you find what you want at a price that you can afford; using coupons and rebates in combination with sales to get the very best price on your groceries; and perhaps even stockpiling items when you find them at an unbeatable price.

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It's also knowing when not to shop — holding off on a purchase that doesn’t fit into your budget, and patiently waiting for a sale to bring an item down to your price. When you adopt the habits of a frugal shopper, you are in full control of your spending.

Frugal Living Means Harnessing Your Creativity.

It’s about finding ways to make do with what you have, and learning how to do more for yourself.

Do you pay someone to change your oil, or do it yourself? Sew a patch on a pair of holey jeans, or buy a new pair? Purchase trash bags, or reuse your plastic grocery bags?

Every day presents new opportunities to reuse, repurpose and create, and it’s the frugal person who recognizes those opportunities, seizes them and turns them into savings.

Why Live Frugally?

Okay, so frugal living is about better money management, bargain shopping and creativity, but what does all of that add up to? Can these three things really result in a better life?

Absolutely.

Frugal living unlocks a world of possibilities. Want to pay off all of your debts? Fund your child’s education? Enjoy the security of a fat bank account? Travel the world? Retire early?

You Can Make It happen.

Frugal living is about determining what you want out of your life, and finding a way to make it happen. A couple dollars saved here, and a few dollars invested there doesn’t translate into a life of deprivation; it translates into possibilities.

Decide what you want to get out of life; then, use frugality to make it happen.

How to Start Living Frugally

Ready to dive into the frugal life, so you can finally start living on your terms? Here are some simple ways to get started.

Make a Budget

And not one of those squeeze-the-fun-out-of-life budgets that you're probably used to. This one should focus on making your life better.

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 Get your goals on paper (They won't seem real, until you do). Then, eliminate any non-essential expenses that aren't moving you closer to achieving your goals. Once you've done that, look for ways to cut your remaining expenses. Every dollar you free up is another dollar that you can put towards your goals.

More About Budgeting:

  • How to Create a Frugal Budget
  • How to Fit Big Dreams Into a Small Budget
  • How to Break Your Spending Habit

Seek Out Freebies

Freebies are fun; and they also happen to be a great way to stretch your budget. Sign up for a bunch of free samples, and start filling your mailbox with something other than bills. But don't let the fun stop there. You can also use freebies to enjoy free meals out, to snag birthday swag and to score a free vacation (yes, really!).

More About Freebies:

  • Snag Free Gift Cards
  • How to Eat for Free
  • Free and Nearly-Free Kids' Events
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  • More Sources for Free Stuff

Befriend Your Local Library

Use your library card to cut your entertainment costs.

Many libraries now allow you to check out e-books, digital audio books, magazines, video games and mobile hot spots. You may even be able to stream videos or download books from the comforts of home. Familiarize yourself with your libraries offerings; then, make the most of your library card.

More Frugal Fun:

  • How to Save on Movie Tickets
  • Ditch Your Cable (Without Giving Anything Up)
  • 5 Fun Things You Could Be Doing for Free

Coupon

Couponing is the easiest it's ever been. If you don't want to bother with clipping coupons, you can print them or download them to your cell phone or store rewards card instead. Just spend five minutes checking for coupons before you head to the grocery store, and you'll easily cut your bill by 25% or more.

More About Grocery Savings:

  • Clever Couponing Strategies
  • How to Get More Coupons
  • Give Your Grocery List a Savings Makeover
  • 11 Ways Grocery Stores Get You to Spend More

DIY Your Way to Savings

Challenge yourself to make more of the things that you're used to buying and to make do with what you have, instead of buying new.

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Whenever you run out of something, see if you can come up with an alternative to running to the store for more. Before long it'll be a habit, and you'll have a whole arsenal of DIY skills to draw from.

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Eat Out Less Often

Eating out is fun, but far more expensive than eating at home. Challenge yourself to eat at home more often — even if it's just once more a month, and watch your bank account grow. Then, find ways to minimize the cost of eating out when you do decide to treat yourself.

More About Food Savings:

  • 13 Ways You Can Eat for Free
  • Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget
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Make Your Own Cleaners

Homemade cleaners work just as well as store-bought cleaners and at a fraction of the price. Stock up on basic cleaning agents like vinegar and baking soda; and you'll be ready for any cleaning task that comes your way.

More About Homemade Cleaners:

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Take Care of Your Ride

Owning a vehicle is a big expense. Make sure you're keeping up with all the scheduled maintenance, so it doesn't become an even bigger expense. If you don't know how to work on your car yourself, find a mechanic you can trust to work on it. 

More About Cutting Transportation Costs:

  • High-Mileage Vehicle Maintenance Checklist
  • How to Tell How Old Your Tires Are
  • How to Save Money on New Tires

Wash in Cold

Cut your electric bill substantially by washing your laundry in cold water. Your clothes will still come out clean, and your hot water heater won't have to work nearly as hard.

More Ways to Save on Laundry:

  • Powdered Laundry Detergent Recipe
  • Make Your Own Dryer Sheets
  • Homemade Fabric Softener
  • Cheap Stain Removers
  • Vinegar as a Stain Remover

Take Charge of Your Health

Eat healthy and get plenty of exercise now, so you don't get stuck paying big medical bills later. And never put off a visit to the doctor or dentist because you feel you can't afford the cost. Medical expenses aren't as set in stone as you may think.

Ways to Lower Healthcare Costs:

  • How to Save on Dental Care
  • 10 Ways to Cut Your Prescription Costs

Get a Grip on Your Utility Bills

Getting your mortgage or rent down is tricky, but getting your utilities down is definitely within your power. Check around to see if you're getting the best price you could be getting. Then, look for ways to cut your usage, so you save even more.

Ways to Lower Your Utilities:

  • Simple Ways to Cut Your Electric Bill
  • How to Reduce Your Water Usage
  • Ways to Cut the Cost of Heating Water
  • How to Cut the Cost of a Landline

Keep Celebrations in Check

Lots of people lose their heads when it comes to buying presents for birthdays and holidays. Don't let that be the undoing of all your hard work. Apply the same frugal mindset to celebrations that you apply to everything else, and you'll be happier for it.

More About Frugal Holidays and Celebrations:

  • 6 Ways to Buy Gift Cards for Less
  • 10 Sources for Free Christmas Gifts

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