Frugality means different things to different people. Many characterize thrifty living as meaning you need to reuse dental floss or something equally intense and ridiculous.
Of course, there are ways to take simple living to an extreme. However, numerous frugal living tips let you enjoy life without sacrificing too much. Ultimately, living a frugal lifestyle comes down to prioritizing what’s most important to you.
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Top Frugal Tips to Live Simply
It’s easy to confuse living cheap with frugality, but they’re two completely different philosophies.
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If you’re determined to learn how to live cheaply, you’re consistently looking for the lowest price on items you purchase.
Frugal living, on the other hand, aligns spending with your priorities. This allows you to focus money on goals such as building savings, paying off debt, investing, or some other financial goal.
You spend on what you deem important without impacting your goals. In effect, you’re spending smarter, not harder.
Here are our favorite simple living tips to help you order your spending.
1. Get Cash Back on Purchases
Let’s face it; we all have to spend money on things we need. Why not get money back on those necessities?
You can use apps like Ibotta to get cash back on groceries. The app also works with over 300 retailers online, allowing you to receive cash back on many of your purchases.
2. Search for Discounts
No one likes searching for discount codes when shopping online. Free browser extensions like Capital One Shopping can save you money on the things you need to buy.
It automatically applies discount codes to your cart on the things you plan to purchase.
Read our review of Capital One Shopping to learn more about how the extension works.
3. Cut Your Regular Bills
One of the top frugal living ideas is to monitor your bills and look for savings regularly. You may be eligible to get your monthly bills reduced.
If you don’t like to negotiate, try a service like Experian BillFixers to do the work for you. The service analyzes all of your bills and negotiates with providers for you.
There are no upfront costs and no hidden fees. If the app can secure discounts, it keeps half of your savings.
4. Consolidate Debt
Debt is daunting and impedes financial independence. If you can, try consolidating your debt so you can pay it off quicker.
SoFi is a terrific platform to consolidate your debt. The lender has no required fees, and you can borrow as little as $5,000 to consolidate debt.
Rates start as low as 8.99 percent, and it takes only a few minutes to receive your quote.
5. Have an Emergency Fund
We can’t predict when bad things will happen. But an emergency fund is an excellent way to protect yourself.
Start saving a portion of every paycheck and put it into an account that you can’t touch easily. I highly recommend Chime as one option.
Chime has no minimum balance requirements on savings accounts. It also gives you up to $500 each year by rounding up purchases, when you pair it with a debit card on your checking account.
6. Have A Budget
Many find budgets restricting, but they actually create freedom by ensuring that your spending aligns with your priorities.
Keep your budget up to date, automatically, by using a service like Tiller. Tiller connects to your bank account and puts all of your information into a Google Sheet to help you analyze your spending habits.
7. Compare Your Insurance
You could potentially save money on your car insurance, just by comparing plans through The Zebra.
The Zebra is a fun little platform that lets you compare insurers to find cheap car insurance companies to help you save money. If it’s the same coverage as your expensive plan, why spend more?
8. Earn Extra Money
Yes, even frugal people have side hustles. You can use your side hustle to save more money, pay off debt, or even to treat yourself without spending your regular income.
DoorDash is my favorite platform to earn extra money. You can deliver meals to people at their homes or places of work.
Earnings vary depending on numerous factors like tips and delivery times. The app even allows you to create your own schedule, and they pay weekly.
9. Get Rid of Cable
In my opinion, the best way to be frugal with money is to cut the cord on cable. There is no sense in spending $200+ per month on cable when there are numerous streaming platforms to get the shows you want for less.
Sling TV is my favorite platform and starts at only $40 per month.
10. Downgrade Cable
If you can’t get rid of it, at least downgrade it, or call the company and ask for a better deal.
11. Cook Once, Eat Twice
Instead of getting takeout because you’re too busy or tired to cook, try batch cooking. After you finish your meal, freeze portions for later so that you have something easy to throw in the oven or microwave on those busy days.
12. Save Your Scraps
You can repurpose things like veggie peels, chicken bones, and even peanut butter on the sides of a jar.
Save your scraps and find ways to reuse them, like making homemade broth or overnight oats in a peanut butter jar.
You can also save most of your scraps and start composting.
13. Start A Garden
If you decide to compost, start a garden. It will cost some money upfront, but you can’t beat homegrown veggies and fruits.
14. Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk is especially helpful if you have a large family or go through items like rice, beans, or toilet paper quickly.
Just keep in mind to look at the cost per unit to make sure you’re getting a better deal.
15. Go Out for Breakfast or Lunch
If you like to go out for meals, don’t go out for dinner. Prices are usually twice as much with little to no difference in food size.
Instead, go out for breakfast or lunch. You can often get the same experience for half the cost.
16. Utilize Happy Hour
Another way to save money is to utilize happy hours. Restaurants frequently discount drinks, appetizers, and more during their slowest times, which means more money in your pocket.
17. Go Meatless
I’m not saying you have to be a vegan or vegetarian. But a terrific way to live on a budget is to skip the meat and have a plant-based meal, at least once a week.
It can be healthy and filling while saving you quite a bit on your grocery bill.
18. Only Buy What’s on Sale
If you genuinely want to save money at the grocery store, plan your menu around what’s on sale.
Sites like My Grocery Deals offer the best deals and sales in your area.
19. Use A Water Filter
The bottled water industry makes around $3 billion every year, according to Statista.
But you can save your money by investing in a water filter. Water is free, so why pay for someone to bottle it?
20. Make Your Own Coffee or Tea
Skip the line at Starbucks and instead make your own coffee and tea. There are tons of recipes that you can find for your favorite drink recreations online.
21. Buy Generic
Usually, there isn’t much of a difference between generic and name brand. Save your money on the name and packaging and get the same quality by buying generic.
22. Have A Pantry or Freezer Challenge
I hate food waste! Anytime I have to throw food away, I feel it’s like throwing money in the trash.
You can utilize apps like SuperCook to clean out your pantry, fridge, and freezer. See how much money you can save by eating what you already have at home.
23. Use A Clothesline or Drying Rack
If the weather is nice, use a clothing line or drying rack instead of your dryer to dry your clothes.
This will save energy and money, especially if you do it often.
24. Use Towels to Clean Up
Don’t waste money on paper towels. Instead, use old clothes, old t-shirts, or even drying towels to clean up waste and spills.
25. Use A Bidet
I know, sounds weird. But many developed countries use bidets, and honestly, they’re more pleasant to use than you might expect.
You can’t beat the clean feeling. Plus, less toilet paper waste and expense is always nice.
26. Become A Minimalist
The more you have, the more you spend. If you can’t find what you have, you’re more likely to pay more money to replace something needlessly.
Instead, keep your home decluttered and tidy. This also helps save money on things you didn’t need anyway.
27. Don’t Wash Your Clothes After Every Wearing
Did you know that you may not need to wash a piece of clothing every time you wear it?
Unless you worked out in it or sweat profusely, you can usually wear a piece of clothing, especially jeans, two to five times before washing.
This also helps keep your clothing in good shape and the proper color for longer.
28. Fix and Mend
Instead of throwing away and replacing, can you fix or mend what breaks? I’ve been able to keep jeans for years just by sewing up tears and rips.
This also works for appliances, toys, and numerous other items.
Furthermore, on items like appliances you can sell them if you are upgrading to offset the expense. Read our guide on the top places to sell old appliances for cash to identify a suitable choice.
29. Walk or Bike
If you live in a big city, consider getting rid of your car. Instead, bike or walk around to get what you need. My family of three does this, and we’ve saved thousands of dollars.
30. Clean and Maintain Your Car
If you need a car, you don’t have to pay a fortune to clean and maintain it; you can do it yourself.
Oil changes, changing wiper blades and fluid, replacing air filters, and changing out a battery are all things the average person can do.
31. Find Fun and Free Things to Do
You don’t have to spend a dime to have fun. There are plenty of things that you can do that are free and fun.
You can also have fun for free at home with a little creativity.
32. Avoid Late Fees
I hate late fees. Companies like to make money on our forgetfulness. Don’t let this happen to you!
If you have a problem remembering to pay your bills, buy a cheap calendar to monitor when they’re due. Or, use your phone to set reminders.
33. Cancel Unused Subscriptions
Don’t subscribe to what doesn’t bring you joy. You don’t have to have Netflix just because everyone else does.
If you want to be frugal, cancel unused subscriptions, and get that money back in your pocket. Again, Trim is a helpful service to assist you in finding those old subscriptions that still cost you money.
34. Utilize Schools
One of my favorite ways to save money is to find lower-priced alternatives to paying for an expensive haircut or massage.
Different training schools let you pay a fraction of the cost of a professional. Cosmetology schools, massage therapy schools, and dental schools are all ways to get the same services you need and want, for less.
And, you get to help someone get some real-life experience. It’s a win-win for everyone.
35. Only Shop at Thrift Stores
Do you have a growing family? If so, you know how expensive it is to keep those children in good clothes without spending a small fortune.
A suitable alternative is to shop only at consignment stores. Many good consignment shops carry quality clothing for substantially less.
It’s also an excellent way to practice thrifty living as those items don’t go to the dump.
36. Unsubscribe from Store Email Lists
Retailers love it when you give them your email address. If you’re like me, receiving a sales email from my favorite store tempts you to spend. They know that.
The best way to kill the temptation is to simply unsubscribe from their list.
37. Use Only Cash
No list of frugal living tips is complete without the suggestion of using only cash. There’s an emotional sensation when we buy something with cash that doesn’t happen when we mindlessly swipe a credit or debit card.
Like many, I don’t like losing that cash. If you want to manage your spending habits more effectively and keep more of your money, consider only using cash.
There are hundreds of ways to live a frugal life. The best part is most of them are not difficult; they merely require a particular mindset.
If you want to save more money, consider using a few of these simple living ideas to manage your finances. You will likely find the payoff is well worth the minimal sacrifice.
What are your favorite ways to save money? Where do you struggle with living frugally? How often do you analyze your spending habits?
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Kim Suazo has been a freelance writer and business owner for over four years. When she's not writing for Frugal Rules, you can find her on other publications like Chime, Discovery, and Due. She also owns her own websites The Entrepremomer and Part-Time Profit, where she teaches overworked moms how to streamline their new businesses so they can scale without a team.