Saving is crucial if you want to enjoy a sound financial future. Despite this, nearly half of Americans have nothing saved at all. Living paycheck to paycheck is common, especially for those who live beyond their means.
Frugal living is the solution to these problematic personal finance trends. If you want to improve your financial position, embracing a frugal lifestyle is essential. As you learn to shop smarter and invest in what matters most, it will help you spend less money and save more.
To learn how to save money fast on a low income and implement frugality this year, keep on reading.
What Does Frugal Living Mean?
Being frugal simply means spending mindfully and considering your resource allocation with intention. Instead of “keeping up with the Joneses,” frugal living empowers you to focus on your priorities. Because you only have a small amount of time and resources, frugal living allows you to use them where they matter most.
Some frugal living tips include:
- Reducing your expenses
- Using your resources wisely
- Finding creative ways to save
- Having a long-term financial perspective
By following these fundamentals, you can enjoy a comfortable standard of living without breaking the bank.
Is Frugal the Same Thing As Cheap?
Though the word “frugal” can have a negative connotation, it shouldn’t. Frugality involves being money-conscious, but it’s not the same thing as being cheap.
Frugal people consider the bigger picture, while cheap people solely focus on spending the least amount of money possible. Thus, someone who lives frugally might invest in higher quality clothing from a thrift store, rather than buying cheap “fast fashion” at the mall.
What Are the Benefits of Frugal Living?
Frugal living offers a host of benefits. When you have fewer bills and lower monthly expenses, money won’t control you to the same degree.
Here’s a list of the benefits that await your frugal lifestyle:
- Greater financial freedom
- Getting out of debt for good
- The ability to quit a job you don’t enjoy
- Choosing fulfilling employment opportunities instead
- Retiring early, if desired
- Reaching your financial goals
- Building up a nest egg for business ventures, real estate investments, or homeownership
6 Frugal Living Ideas
Now that you understand why frugal living is worth pursuing, here are some frugal living tips to get you started.
1. Streamline Your Food Budget
Since eating is a daily necessity, your financial habits around food have compounding impacts. For instance, if you slip into a pattern of eating out too often, ordering expensive food delivery, or grocery shopping without a strategy, your food expenses can multiply.
Fortunately, saving money on food doesn’t require you to sacrifice on meal quality or nutrition. In fact, many frugal eating habits enhance your diet.
Here are some ways to reduce the money you spend on meals:
Cook at home – Eating out every once in a while is a wonderful experience. However, relying on restaurants too often drains your budget. Cooking can be intimidating at first, but as you start trying out new recipes and growing your culinary skills, you may come to enjoy it. Not to mention, your finances will be much better off.
Meal plan – A meal plan is necessary to stick to a tight grocery budget. Grocery shopping without a plan leads to frivolous purchases that ultimately turn into food waste. By meal planning, you’ll shop smarter and purchase precisely what you need. Get enough ingredients to cook your meals in batches. With convenient, healthy leftovers in the fridge, you’ll be less likely to order take out after a long day.
Shop at cheaper grocery stores – Where you shop is just as important as what you buy. A grocery store haul from Whole Foods will be much more expensive than one from Trader Joe’s. By shopping at a cheaper grocery store and buying generic brands, you’ll end up saving in dividends.
Buy in bulk – When it comes to non-perishables, it’s always cheaper to buy in bulk. Stock up on rice, beans, pasta, nuts, and frozen meat when you come across a good deal. Next, store these items properly to ensure they last. Invest in a deep freezer so you have ample space for your frozen goods.
Start a vegetable garden – Growing your own herbs and veggies is a great way to enjoy fresh produce on a budget. Growing your own food also provides you with a relaxing hobby. Since vegetables are cheaper than meat, having more plant-based, meatless meals can also save money and improve your health.
2. Cut Down Your Transportation Costs
After housing, transportation is the second-largest living expense for Americans. This should come as no surprise to car owners, who are quite familiar with the costs of auto insurance, gas, registration, vehicle maintenance, and repairs.
Anything you can do to make your transportation cheaper will benefit your budget. Here are some great tips to save a few dollars on transportation:
Buy a car you can actually afford – Cars are known for their fast rate of depreciation. Thus, buying a used car is more financially savvy than buying one that’s brand new. Don’t fall into the trap of choosing a car you can barely afford just to impress others.
Lower your car insurance premiums – Car insurance is a big expense. Fortunately, you can reduce it by shopping around for insurers, taking advantage of discounts, driving less often, improving your credit score, and avoiding accidents with safe driving practices.
Shift to remote work – Your daily commute eats up a large portion of your gas mileage, adding wear and tear to your vehicle. By working remotely, you eliminate this commute completely. If remote work isn’t an option, try to limit your commute by living close to your workplace.
Sell your car – If you live somewhere with decent public transportation, it may be feasible to get rid of your car entirely. This will save you a ton of money over time.
Walk or ride your bike – Even if you need to keep your car, try walking or biking more for short distance errands. Not only will this help you stay fit, but it will reduce how much you spend on gas.
By making these changes, your transportation savings will add up over time.
3. Sell Your Unneeded Belongings
The average American has 300,000 items in their home! Check if there’s anything you could get rid of around your house. Transform this clutter into cash by selling your items online for extra money.
Selling online has never been easier! There are a variety of online marketplaces you can use, including:
- Facebook Marketplace
Once you’ve streamlined your space, you might discover that you can downsize your home and save on your housing expenses.
4. Become a Savvier Shopper
Living a frugal life doesn’t mean you have to give up shopping for good. You just need to learn how to live on a budget and develop a keen eye for great deals.
Avoid paying retail price by following these savvy shopping strategies:
Buy used – Retail prices are highly inflated. If you’ve tried selling your items online, you know this first-hand. Thus, it pays off to buy used instead. Do your shopping at thrift stores or online marketplaces. You can score great deals on like-new clothing, furniture, sporting equipment, and electronics.
Only shop sales – If you want to buy something from a retail store, try to shop the sales. You may have to shop for Summer clothes during the Wintertime, and vice versa, but you will spend way less money. Furthermore, take advantage of coupons and cash back rebates as often as possible.
5. Enjoy Free Activities
Frugality and fun are not mutually exclusive. Making meaningful memories doesn’t need to involve spending money.
Here are some free entertainment ideas:
- Check out books, movies, and magazines from your local library
- Cook a special dinner at home for date night
- Have a picnic in the park
- Invite friends over for a game night or BBQ
- Attend free days at the museum
- Bike or rollerblade around your town
6 Travel During Off-Seasons
Traveling is an enriching experience that many people, frugal or otherwise, like to take part in. Depending on how you plan your vacations, travel costs can vary dramatically.
To enjoy travel on a budget:
- Book flights when they’re at their cheapest
- Avoid taking trips during peak seasons or holidays
- Stay at an Airbnb instead of a costly hotel
- Use your credit card’s travel rewards
Combining these frugal travel tips will ensure you stick to your budget, while still enabling you to make amazing memories abroad.
How Can I Be More Frugal With My Money?
As you can see, a living frugal can enhance your life by reducing your financial burdens. By applying some of these living tips, your savings will add up significantly. Once you’ve improved your financial position, you’ll enjoy more freedom to live a fulfilling life.
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Statista. Americans Lack Savings.
How Much. Consumer Spending In The United States.
LA Times. For many people, gather possessions is just the stuff of life.